Update on ACP progress from Aaron Ruby

Residents of the Allegheny Highlands learned well over a month ago of the Federal Regulatory Commission’s approval for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Since then the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and the George Washington National Forest have also given their green lights. In Virginia, the State Water Control Board will be meeting to make its decision on the 11th and 12th of December.

Allegheny Mountain Radio spoke with Aaron Ruby, Dominion Energy’s media specialist, to hear more about those approval steps, and what could come after that.

“Because we are going to be tunneling underneath the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s the US Forest Service and National Park Service who oversee those resources, and so we need approval from those agencies as well.”

He continued,

“So we are heading down the homestretch. We are on track to begin construction by the end of the year, you know and this has been the culmination of a three, more than three-year thorough and exhaustive environmental review process.

And in a lot of really tangible meaningful ways, the input that has been provided by the public and also by agencies has had a significant impact on the project.”

Mr. Ruby asserted,

“This by far has been the most thorough and exhaustive environmental review that has ever been done, for a project like this, both at the state and the federal level. And it’s been done with a higher level of transparency than certainly any project that I’ve worked on, or any project that really any of us on this project have seen.”

I asked Mr. Ruby to begin helping us picture what the construction process might look like. It’s been clear for a while it will not progress from West to East or East to West. I had first learned about spreads a year ago at a Dominion Employment Fair in Fishersville.

“And those spreads, depending on the terrain can be anywhere from thirty to seventy or eighty miles long. In your more mountainous terrain, you’re going to have shorter spreads because of the terrain, so you’re going to have smaller crews, shorter spreads, more specialized types of equipment that are deigned to handle that type of terrain.   Each spread is distinct. It has its own crew, its own leaders, its own kind of construction schedule and plan. Most of the construction in Pocahontas and Bath, is going to take place in late 2018 through 2019. Once we get to the end of the process each of those individual sections gets tied in together, and then you have one six hundred mile pipeline.”

Primary focus from the end of this year through the end of March 2018 will be tree felling with the majority of that being in the National Forests. Aaron went on to explain, that the felling takes place before the focus will change to clearing, and site preparation.

“In many respects, pipeline construction is very similar to an assembly line. It’s a very mechanized, and kind of routinized process, just like an assembly line would be.”

“Step A, B, and C.”   “That’s correct.”

In a follow-up story to this one, we’ll hear from a few Virginians who plan to resist the ACP construction for as long as possible. They gathered with people from across the Mid-Atlantic region to document impacts they see, at the People’s Tribunal for Human Rights in the end of October.


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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