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National Park Service grants construction permit to Atlantic Coast gas pipeline

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National Park Service grants construction permit to Atlantic Coast gas pipeline

The U.S. National Park Service approved two permits for the Dominion Energy Inc.-led Atlantic Coast gas pipeline, which would bring up to 1.5 MMDth/d of Appalachian supplies to mid-Atlantic and Southern markets.

The agency, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, granted construction and right-of-way permits for the portion of the pipeline routed through the Blue Ridge Parkway in Augusta and Nelson counties in Virginia. The National Park Service concluded that the project's activities will be "consistent with the use of these lands for parkway purposes," agency staff said in the Dec. 14 right-of-way permit. Project developers applied for the permits April 1, 2015.

"The agency approval was reached after more than three years of careful study and meaningful engagement with the public and other agencies," Dominion spokesman Aaron Ruby said in a statement. "In consultation with the agency, we adopted the most protective method for the parkway that will completely avoid surface impacts and preserve public view sheds."

Dominion plans to begin tree-felling activities in early 2018 and mainline construction by April 2018. It will use horizontal directional drilling to install the pipeline through a tunnel 800 feet below the parkway. "This ensures that construction and operation of the pipeline will have no impact on the public use or enjoyment of the parkway," Ruby said.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline recently received an amended water quality certificate from the Virginia Water Control Board. The project still requires a federal water quality certification from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a Clean Water Act Section 401 permit from North Carolina.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the pipeline in an Oct. 13 certificate order and included mitigation measures designed to reduce the project's impacts to acceptable levels.

The 42-inch-diameter pipeline, a joint project of Dominion, Southern Gas Co., Duke Energy Corp. and Piedmont Natural Gas Co. Inc., would run approximately 600 miles from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina. (FERC docket CP15-554)