(CNSNews.com) – Building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will have a “less than significant environmental impact,” a final regulatory assessment released Friday concludes. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s report will play a major role in the Commission’s decision this coming Fall to allow construction of the infrastructure project President Donald Trump promised to deliver.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s final environmental impact statement examines the 600-mile pipeline project proposed by Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Dominion Energy and Atlantic and Piedmont Natural Gas to carry natural gas through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.
The analysis found that any adverse environmental impacts on water resources, forests and some endangered species in the pipeline’s path could be reduced to less-than-significant levels with compliance to federal standards and implementation of protective measures.
Dominion Energy’s Vice President for Engineering and Construction Leslie Hartz praised the “favorable” report in a statement promising to minimize the pipeline’s impact:
“While some impacts on the environment and landowners are unavoidable with any infrastructure project, the report demonstrates that we’ve taken all necessary steps to minimize those impact and balance them with the urgent public need for the project.”
Pipeline supporters - including union leaders, lawmakers and economic development officials - have stated that the project would provide access to cheap, abundant natural gas, which is cleaner than coal.
The leading companies promised that the pipeline will create 17,000 new jobs and almost $3 billion in economic activity across three states.
Nelson County residents and environmental groups opposed to the pipeline say that it would infringe on property rights of landowners, damage pristine areas and requires the region to commit to fossil fuel.
Despite opposition, a poll conducted in late May by the Democratic-leaning firm Consumer Energy Alliance based in Maryland shows that over half of registered voters in the three states support construction of the pipeline.
- Virginia: 54%
- West Virginia: 60%
- North Carolina: 52%
“While a small minority of opponents has received disproportionate attention, the vast majority of people in the region want to see this pipeline built. Their voices deserve to be heard,” said Dominion Spokesman Arron Ruby in a statement.
Dominion said during a teleconference in April that it had already completed 65 percent of steel pipe and more than 98 percent of land surveys while awaiting the green light from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.