Dominion has announced that it plans to pursue an alternative route for the ACP in response to Forest Service concerns about harm to protected species and habitats in the Cheat Mountain area of West Virginia and the Shenandoah Mountain area of Virginia. The change in plans addresses concerns about endemic salamanders, the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, and the red spruce ecosystem restoration area. Dominion spokesmen have stated they believe the alternate route will meet Forest Service requirements and provide a viable path forward for the project.

Dominion fails to recognize, however, that the real issue is construction of a major pipeline through the greatest concentration of remaining wild lands, pristine streams, and intact ecosystems in the central Appalachian region.

Although the newly proposed route would reduce impacts to certain species that are emblematic of this wild landscape, Dominion’s alternate route still involves significant forest fragmentation and fails to avoid environmental harm associated with construction across steep mountains and complex karst valleys. Moreover, Dominion is now proposing to build the pipeline along a path that was initially rejected for being too challenging and hazardous.

The proposed ACP is unprecedented with respect to pipeline size and the level of disturbance that will be required. There is no acceptable route for the ACP through the central Appalachian region.

Statement of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance on the newly announced route change for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline:  February 12, 2016

The new alternative route for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, announced this morning by Dominion Transmission, avoids Cheat and Shenandoah Mountains but compounds the ecological harm that would ensue. By directing the pipeline further south in Pocahontas County, WV, into northern Bath County, VA and then north through the Deerfield Valley in Augusta County, the route would traverse some of the most concentrated karst topography in the Allegheny region. A pipeline through this area would significantly increase the likelihood of catastrophic erosion and sediment pollution of several significant waterways. Furthermore, the new route opens up to potential devastation a whole new set of cultural and natural resources. The many newly affected landowners and local officials must be carefully consulted before the project should be allowed to continue with the FERC process.

Once again, Dominion has proposed a route without thinking through or understanding the environmental and other consequences of its decision.

Contact: Lewis Freeman, Chair/Executive Director, Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, 540-468-2769 or 703-298-8107 (c)

Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Press Statement, 02/12/16
Southern Environmental Law Center, Statement, 02/12/16
Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Statement, 02/12/16
Augusta County Alliance, Statement, 02/12/16
ACP alters route through national forests, Charleston Gazette, 02/12/16
Dominion outlines new national forest route for pipeline, AP, 02/12/16
Even more to dislike with new route, Daily Progress, 02/12/16