Just a week ago, the utility companies behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline had urged federal regulators to fast track their application, citing “contractual obligations.” Their letter claimed that “the state’s actions for water quality certifications and other state requirements are proceeding and align with our anticipated construction schedule.”
Apparently, that was merely wishful thinking.
The NC Department of Environmental Quality has delayed by three months its decision on whether to grant a 401 water quality and buffer permit to the owners of the ACP. In a letter to the ACP, state environmental officials laid out in two pages myriad missing information, some of it very basic: construction drawings, erosion control plans, a calculation of cumulative impacts and stream restoration plans.
DEQ had originally set a deadline of Sept. 19 for the decision.
Southeast Energy News first reported the story this morning.
Given the ACP’s application history, it’s not surprising that vital data has still not been provided. Both the draft and final environmental impact statements, issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, contained large information gaps. In other cases, such as the environmental justice section, the issue was given short shrift, as if it were a box to be merely checked off.
The public has been overwhelmingly opposed to the project for environmental, safety and social justice reasons. Only economic boosters, local governments and the occasional industry front group in North Carolina have spoken for it.
The ACP’s letter to FERC noted that pipeline contractors wanted to begin tree-cutting in November. But in its letter to the ACP, state environmental officials warned that “you have no authorization” under state and federal regulations “for this activity and any work done within waters of the state or protected riparian buffers” would violate state law.