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VA Conservation Agency Details More Conditions For Atlantic Coast Pipeline

A Virginia conservation agency is proposing a set of conditions for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) as the project looks to cross several easements under the agency’s watch.

In a filing to FERC posted to the project docket, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF), an entity formed under state law in 1966, requested that several requirements be included in the final environmental impact statement (EIS) and possible certificate order for ACP as conditions for VOF to grant ACP's applications to cross 10 conservation easements [CP15-554].

The VOF’s conditions represent the latest snag in ACP’s efforts to secure regulatory approval to build through sensitive terrain along the Virginia/West Virginia border.

After the U.S. Forest Service last year rejected ACP's plans to cross the Monongahela and George Washington national forests, the pipeline developed a substantial reroute through the area. The adjusted route requires ACP to convert portions of 10 VOF conservation easements in Highland, Bath, Augusta and Nelson counties, VA, in order to build the pipeline, according to VOF.

At a Feb. 9 meeting, VOF's board of trustees voted to defer action on ACP's applications.

The conditions VOF provided to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission include, among other things, the transfer of a roughly 1,000-acre farm property nearby to offset the lost conservation land, an offer ACP made as part of its applications in order satisfy requirements under Virginia law.

VOF is also proposing that ACP provide financial compensation "to serve as a Stewardship Fund to support VOF with the operation and management of the substitute properties and partially offset VOF's unreimbursed costs associated with the ACP."

"The VOF has consistently taken the position that construction, maintenance and operation of the interstate gas transmission line is inconsistent with the open space protections afforded by the subject easements," VOF told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The group added that it considers the potential impact of the pipeline on the conservation lands to be "very significant."

ACP received its draft EIS in December. FERC is accepting comments on the document through April 6.

The 600-mile, 1.5 Bcf/d ACP is a joint venture of Dominion Resources, Duke Energy and Southern Company Gas. The pipeline is 96% subscribed and would transport Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas to satisfy heating and electric generation demand in the Southeast. ACP is targeting a 2019 in-service date.

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