A federal appeals court has vacated a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross under the Blue Ridge Parkway.
In the ruling issued Monday, the judges wrote the parkway’s right-of-way permit failed to “explain the pipeline’s consistency with the purposes of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the National Park System.”
The court also found that restrictions designed to limit damage to endangered species were too vague.
Also Monday, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality said erosion controls and inspections would remain in place during a work stoppage on the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency ordered that project to stop after the same court vacated permits to cross National Forest land.
In a statement, DEQ Director David Paylor said the only work currently allowed on the MVP route is for site stabilization.
Dominion Energy spokesman Aaron Ruby issued this statement late Monday in response to the court's ruling:
"We will work with the agencies to resolve the Fourth Circuit Court’s concerns and reinstate our permits as soon as possible. We believe the Court’s concerns can be promptly addressed through additional review by the agencies without causing unnecessary delay to the project. In the meantime, we will continue making progress with construction in West Virginia and North Carolina.
The court’s opinion clarifies its May 15 order on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Incidental Take Statement. We have already provided the agency with all of the information necessary to issue a revised Incidental Take Statement that complies with the court’s ruling. We anticipate the agency will do so shortly. The Fish & Wildlife Service’s Biological Opinion, the broader permit authorizing construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, remains in place.
As we have stated previously, the court’s ruling on the Incidental Take Statement impacts only a small portion of the ACP route – roughly 20 miles in West Virginia, 80 miles in Virginia and no areas in North Carolina. We have avoided these areas since the court’s initial ruling on May 15, and we will continue avoiding them until the agency issues a revised Incidental Take Statement.
With respect to the National Park Service’s approval to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway, the court’s opinion confirms the agency’s authority to issue the permit but remands the permit to allow the agency to correct certain errors and omissions in the permit record. We believe the extensive public record and mitigation requirements already in place provide ample support for the agency to promptly reissue the permit.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been the most thoroughly reviewed infrastructure project in the history of our region. Today’s court ruling is further evidence of this unprecedented scrutiny and the high standard that is being applied to the project."