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State Regulators Give Final Approval to Atlantic Coast Pipeline

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State regulators gave their final approval to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project Friday.

The Department of Environmental Quality signed off on a plan to control erosion, sediment and stormwater. It’s the final step by state regulators before construction can begin.

The project must also still get a final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  And there are still several lawsuits pending.

A spokesperson for the developers calls Friday's approval "a major step forward for the project and brings our region one step closer to a growing economy, a cleaner environment and greater energy security."

Here is the complete announcement from Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality:

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has approved the Erosion and Sediment Control, Stormwater Management, and Karst Protection plans for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). These detailed protection plans specify engineering designs that will protect water quality during and after pipeline construction along the 300-mile project that stretches from Highland County to Greensville County.

With the approval of these protection plans, Virginia’s upland Section 401 Clean Water Act Certification becomes effective. The ACP project now has authorization from the Commonwealth of Virginia to begin construction. Final approval to begin construction is subject to approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, which regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil.

The ACP project is being developed by Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas. Dominion Energy will be responsible for constructing and operating the pipeline.

“Protecting Virginia’s environmental resources is one of our greatest priorities,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler. “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s comprehensive review allows us to remain confident that these final construction plans will protect our natural resources. After more than a year of detailed analysis, all aspects of these plans have been carefully reviewed, modified and intensified before being approved by DEQ. We understand the pipeline projects have raised concerns. We remain dedicated to holding them to the highest environmental standards possible pursuant to state authorities.”

The basis for the design specification of the protection plans is contained in Virginia’s erosion and sediment control and stormwater management regulations. DEQ has sent its report to the State Water Control Board (Board) detailing the plans, which are required by regulation to protect waters in the Commonwealth of Virginia. DEQ also enlisted an independent review by EEE, an environmental and engineering services consulting firm based in Blacksburg and Richmond. Last December, the Board conditionally approved the certification based on completion of the plans.

“DEQ’s erosion sediment and stormwater regulations, and our extensive 401 certification gives the agency several enforcement tools to protect water quality and ensure compliance with Virginia’s rigorous requirements,” said DEQ Director David Paylor. “Our engineers and staff spent 15 months reviewing ACP’s site plans to further ensure water quality protections were accurately incorporated.”

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