LUMBERTON — Trees will begin falling this week in Robeson and Cumberland counties to make room for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a Dominion Energy spokesman said Monday.
The work along the pipeline’s proposed route is a result of receiving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval on Jan. 19 to begin felling trees and clearing vegetation in upland areas. Upland areas exclude wetlands, bodies of water and other areas that require additional federal approval.
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality approved in December the erosion and sediment control permit for the southern portion of the route, which includes Robeson, Cumberland and Sampson counties, said Aaron Ruby, Dominion’s Media Relations manager. The agency approved the state’s water quality certification for the project on Friday.
“Having received all necessary approvals, we will begin limited tree felling and vegetation clearing in Robeson and Cumberland counties this week,” Ruby said. “Work will begin in the northern portion of the route once we receive our erosion and sediment control permit for those counties.”
The route’s northern portion includes Northampton, Halifax, Nash, Wilson and Johnston counties.
Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas are partners in a project to build a $5 billion, 600-mile natural gas pipeline that would start in West Virginia and end near Pembroke.
“This pre-construction work will be done on foot, using hand-held equipment,” Ruby said. “We will only be working where we’ve reached easement agreements with landowners, who will receive advance notice before we begin work on their properties.”
Tree felling will continue through the end of March, Ruby said. Per Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requirements, all trees will remain along the right of way until the remaining federal approval to clear trees and begin other construction work is received.
“Once we receive those approvals, we’ll take the final step of requesting from FERC a Notice to Proceed with full construction, which we expect by early spring,” Ruby said.
Also on Friday, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection approved the state’s erosion and sediment control permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Ruby said.
“This is a very significant milestone for the project and one of only a few remaining approvals needed to begin construction,” Ruby said. “This brings West Virginia one step closer to the thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity the project will bring to communities across the state.”
Tree felling and vegetation clearing has begun in West Virginia and will continue through the end of March, he said.