Proposed Pipeline Route Through National Forests Rejected

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The energy companies behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline say they'll work with the U.S. Forest Service to find another route for the energy project through national forests in Virginia and West Virginia.

The statement was issued Thursday in response to a Forest Service decision to reject the proposed route for the 550-mile pipeline through the George Washington and Monongahela national forests. The Forest Service cited threats to the endangered Cow Knob salamander and a red spruce forest in West Virginia.

While the pipeline builders said they are confident they can find an acceptable route, critics welcomed the decision.

The Southern Environmental Law Center said it was apparent from the start the initial proposal was "severely destructive."

Dominion Virginia Power, Duke Energy and other energy partners have proposed building the $5 billion pipeline.

The National Forest Service has told the builders of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline it must find alternatives to the proposed route.

The pipeline would deliver so-called fracked national gas from West Virginia to Virginia and North Carolina.

In response to the decision, Dominion Virginia Power released the following statement:

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, will continue to work with the U.S. Forest Service to find a route for the interstate natural gas pipeline that is needed to bring reliable supplies of energy to Virginia and North Carolina. Today’s letter is part of the permitting process as we work cooperatively to find the best route with the least impact. We appreciate the USFS's examination of this option and remain confident we will find an acceptable route.

In its response today to the ACP’s Nov. 12, 2015, special use request, the USFS said it had determined that a proposed route does not meet minimum requirements of initial screening criteria for threatened species in the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia and the George Washington National Forest in Virginia. The USFS asked for alternatives to be developed. The ACP believes that its routing specialists, in consultation with USFS officials, will find an acceptable route.

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