AUGUSTA COUNTY, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- The route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline is changing again after a recent decision by the U.S. Forest Service.
In January, the USFS rejected the route through the George Washington and Monongahela national forests in Virginia and West Virginia.
In a release Friday, a new route was detailed that would avoid sensitive areas and critical habitat in the national forests, adding about 30 miles to the total length of the pipeline.
However, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC does say the total mileage through the national forests would be cut by more than one-third, down from almost 29 miles to 18.5 miles.
According to the release, the new route would avoid Cheat Mountain and Shenandoah Mountain, as requested by the USFS.
It will impact about 249 new landowners in both Virginia and West Virginia in the counties of Augusta, Bath, Highland, Randolph and Pocahontas.
Dominion Virginia Power, Duke Energy and other energy partners are now in the process of contacting those landowners to request permission to survey their properties.
A preliminary analysis of the new route is expected to be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission next week.
In a release, the company stated, "Finding a viable route through the national forests is an important milestone for the project would allow [FERC] to continue its environmental review."
There will be a series of public information open houses held along the route in March.
Greg Buppert, Senior Attorney at Southern Environmental Law Center, released the following statement about the new proposed route change:
"Dominion has proposed a knee-jerk and ill-conceived adjustment to its favored route rather than a solution that truly attempts to minimize the harm to this region. To prevent unnecessary impacts to our communities and environment, we must understand whether the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is truly needed to meet the regional demand for natural gas in light of the changes to existing pipelines that are already poised to bring more gas into Virginia.
The new route also raises fundamental questions of fairness. FERC must put the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on hold until the citizens of Bath County and other communities along the route have the same opportunities to understand the project, evaluate its impacts, and make their voices heard."