FERC has approved Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC and Dominion Energy Transmission, Inc.’s request to commence limited pre- construction upland tree felling in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina associated with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Supply Header Project.
According to FERC’s Dave Swearingen, the activities approved include tree felling via non-mechanized methods in upland areas where easements have been obtained, surveys have been completed, and no additional state or local permits are required. Swearingen also said the following conditions must be met:
- Inspect the construction right-of-way for stick nests prior to conducting tree felling activities between now and March 31, in accordance with the companies’ Timber Removal Plan. If any active raptor nests are found, the companies must implement a 100-foot no-activity buffer until the nest is no longer active.
- Notify appropriate agencies, including the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, of any tree felling activities prior to initiation.
- Obtain appropriate buffers zone determinations and authorizations from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality prior to any tree felling within protected riparian buffers in the Neuse and Tar/Pamlico Basins.
- Contractors may only cross wetlands and waterbodies on foot.
- Trees and vegetation must be felled at or above ground level.
- The methods used can’t rut soils or damage root systems.
- Trees have to 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 must be left in place until further authorization for any earth-disturbing activities is granted by FERC.
Swearingen also stated that tree felling within waterbodies and wetlands is not authorized, and the companies must maintain a 50-foot buffer between waterbody and wetland boundaries.
The 600-mile underground Atlantic Coast Pipeline will originate in West Virginia, travel through Virginia, and then continue south into eastern North Carolina, ending in Robeson County. The project also includes a lateral extending to Chesapeake, Virginia, and two additional laterals that will connect to two Dominion Energy electric generating facilities in Brunswick County, North Carolina and Greenville County, Virginia.
The Supply Header Project includes 37.5 miles of natural gas pipeline and the modification of existing compression facilities in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Both projects are expected to be placed in service towards the end of 2019.