RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- UPDATE
Federal regulators are not immediately stopping work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, even though a federal appeals court invalidated a key permit for the project.
Environmental groups suing over the permit say Tuesday's court order means construction or any associated activity on the multistate pipeline must stop.
Instead, an official with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a letter Wednesday directing the pipeline to simply file documentation within five days explaining how it will avoid harming threatened or endangered species. The letter notes that developers informed the commission they will not proceed with construction in areas where such sensitive wildlife might be affected.
D.J. Gerken is an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. He says the commission staff appears to be "skipping lightly" over the requirement that a valid permit be in place.
Gerken says it's too soon to comment on next steps.
A spokeswoman for the lead developer of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline says a federal court order vacating a key permit does not mean work on the multistate project has to stop.
Jen Kostyniuk is director of communications for Dominion Energy. She said in an email Tuesday night that "we will continue to move forward with construction as scheduled."
That position is at odds with attorneys for the environmental groups that sued over the permit, who say the order means all construction must cease.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a brief order earlier Tuesday that said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had not provided specific limits for the allowable impact on threatened and endangered species in what's called an "incidental take statement." The order did not directly address construction or other work.
Kostyniuk says that the company is committed to working with the agency to address the concerns raised by the court's order.
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5/16/2018 11:20:13 AM (GMT -4:00)