RICHMOND, Va. – The developers of the now-canceled Atlantic Coast Pipeline have laid out plans for how they want to go about unwinding the work that was done for the multistate natural gas project and restoring disturbed land.
In a filing with federal regulators made public Tuesday, the pipeline company proposed an approximately two-year timeline for efforts across West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, where progress on the project ranged from uninitiated to essentially complete.
The plan outlines where the company wants to clean up felled trees and where it plans to leave them behind, and it proposes abandoning the approximately 30 miles (50 kilometers) of pipe that was installed in place.
“We spent the last several months working really closely with landowners and agencies to develop the most responsible approach for closing out the project,” said Aaron Ruby, an employee of lead developer Dominion Energy who has served as a spokesman for the joint project with Duke Energy. “And ultimately our primary goal is to complete the project as efficiently as possible, and with minimal environmental disturbance.”
Ruby also confirmed for the first time that the company does not intend to voluntarily release the easement agreements it secured on landowners' properties.
In most cases, the legal agreements were obtained through negotiations with landowners, who were paid and who the company has previously said will keep their compensation. But in other cases, in which sometimes vociferously opposed landowners fought the project, the easements were obtained through eminent domain proceedings.
Asked if there are any plans to sell the easement agreements to a third party such as another pipeline or infrastructure project, Ruby said, “We have no plans to do so at this time.”
Ruby also said the company has no plans to voluntarily compensate landowners who are still in court fighting over the legal fees and other costs they incurred related to the project. On Dec. 18, a federal judge in North Carolina awarded one group of defendant landowners just over $20,000 in fees and costs.