Pipeline decision upsets foes


Staff Writer

Friday, September 21, 2018

Construction of an interstate natural gas pipeline through Nash County can resume, according to federal regulators who temporarily halted work for further review.

The decision has made energy companies happy while upsetting environmentalists and a small but vocal group of local property owners.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline spokesman Aaron Ruby said builders are ready to get back to work on the public infrastructure project. He commended the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service for promptly addressing issues raised by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Stop Work Order.

"The agencies have reaffirmed that the project does not threaten any federally protected species and is consistent with the public use of the Blue Ridge Parkway," Ruby said.

Nash Stop the Pipeline joined other groups in filing legal challenges against the pipeline, winning temporary construction stoppages along the way.

Those groups are fighting the pipeline on several fronts: In court with lawsuits, on the street with marches and organizing a group to monitor construction.

Nash County landowner Marvin Winstead is suing pipeline builders for wrong use of eminent domain. He also organizes anti-pipeline protests.

Winstead said there's no guaranteed way to shut down the pipeline so they're trying as many methods as they can.

The ultimate showdown may come in federal court where pipeline opponents are trying to show the pipeline isn't needed to meet North Carolina demand.

Ruby contends public utilities in North Carolina are depending on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to meet growing energy needs of consumers and businesses.

"The project remains on track for completion by the end of next year, which will allow public utilities to meet growing demand for cleaner electricity, residential home heating and power for local businesses," Ruby said.