Dominion now says it would run the ACP underground to avoid the habitat of the rare Cow Knob salamander. In the route proposed in Dominion’s September 2015 FERC filing, about 5.5 miles of the 564-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline would have run across land inhabited by the salamander in the George Washington National Forest in Augusta and Highland counties in Virginia. The salamander’s habitat is protected by a 1994 multi-agency federal pact for the specific “conservation area” they were known to inhabit. The agreement also extended protections for any salamanders later found outside that original area – in places that eventually included a proposed path for the pipeline.
Dominion’s post-filing route changes show how premature their late September 2015 filing was. Perhaps they rushed to maintain the appearance of being on schedule? Perhaps they thought no one would notice them cutting through federally protected areas and threatening protected species? It is highly unlikely Dominion has any actual data yet on the costs and feasibility of this newly announced drilling plan. When will the details of that plan be available? Perhaps December 2016, months after Dominion’s hoped-for approval from FERC? (That’s when they say they’ll have a contingency plan for drilling under the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway.) Does Dominion simply assume FERC will give them a permit before they have to file any contingency plans?
Your letters to FERC could demand submission of full plans for various drilling schemes before FERC considers Dominion’s (currently incomplete) application.
Read the full article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch here. NB: The article as it appeared online in the Daily Progress is abridged, although the full article appears in the Daily Progress print edition. The full article includes additional information and comments on the drilling proposal and a brief listing of other route changes proposed by Dominion: “Dominion said other pipeline route shifts would move the project away from the habitat of another rare creature, the Cheat Mountain salamander in West Virginia; move the line away from a wetland project and a proposed historic district in Nelson and Buckingham counties in Virginia but slightly closer to the Yogaville community; and move the line slightly north in southeastern Virginia to avoid the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.”