North Carolina recently rejected the ACP’s sedimentation control plans and has not issued ACP approvals. Virginia’s DEQ has issued a conditional permit – based on acceptance of additional information submitted (or resubmitted) by the ACP. But on January 19, 2018, the The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an approval for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC to proceed with tree felling for its pipeline project. ACP had requested FERC’s permission to do so.
FERC’s January 19 letter states in part:
As described in your request, Atlantic’s and DETI’s activities approved include felling of trees in upland areas via non-mechanized methods. I clarify here that non-mechanized clearing is defined as the use of equipment that can be operated and carried by hand, by an individual; and that use of wheeled, tracked, or other similar types of ground-disturbing equipment is not authorized for clearing-related activity. Activities may only occur as described in Atlantic’s “NTP and Skip Tracking Table” in its January 18, 2018 supplement on lands where easements have been obtained, surveys have been completed, and where no additional state or local permits are required for the activity. As indicated in your request, contractors may only cross wetlands and waterbodies on foot. Trees and vegetation may be felled at or above ground level, and must use methods that will not rut soils or damage root systems, and be felled in a way that avoids obstruction of flow, rutting, and sedimentation of wetlands and waterbodies. Felled trees and woody and other vegetation debris shall be left in place until further authorization for any earth-disturbing activities is granted by the FERC.
This approval does not authorize tree-felling within waterbodies and wetlands. Atlantic and DETI shall maintain a 50-foot buffer between waterbody and wetland boundaries and the extent of upland tree-cutting activities. Improvement or modification of approved access roads is not authorized as part of this limited notice to proceed. This approval does not authorize use of U.S. Forest Service access roads until Atlantic obtains the applicable road use permit(s).