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.
Environmental groups and the lead developer of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are at odds over what happens now that a federal appeals court has vacated a key permit for the multistate project.
The key developer and the environmental groups that sued disagree over whether work can continue on the natural gas pipeline.
Environmental groups say construction and any associated activity must stop, now that the permit dealing with threatened and endangered species has been invalidated.
But a Dominion Energy spokeswoman says the project "will move forward with construction as scheduled."
A spokeswoman for the federal commission with the lead in pipeline oversight declined to give an immediate comment on the issue.
The approximately $6.5 billion, 600-mile pipeline is designed to start in West Virginia and cross Virginia and North Carolina.
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