Monday numbers: A close look at what’s next now that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been canceled

By: - August 9, 2021 6:00 am

Feds submit proposal for restoring hundreds of miles of cleared land

A little more than a year after Duke Energy and Dominion pulled the plug on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, federal regulators have published a proposed restoration plan for the 600-mile route.

Had it been built, the ACP would have routed through West Virginia and Virginia before entering North Carolina in Northampton County. From there, the pipeline would have traveled 160 miles through the eastern part of the state, ending in Robeson County.

Under the proposal, 31 miles of pipe along the entire route would be left in the ground. That includes nearly 10 miles in North Carolina. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission determined that excavating the pipe would harm the environment more than leaving it in place. The pipe would be capped and grouted.

The plan would require ACP to fully restore areas that had been cleared and graded. This includes seed plantings, replacing topsoil and controlling erosion.

ACP had proposed removing trees that had been cut along 83 miles of the route, but FERC disagreed. “We believe leaving the felled trees in place in most circumstances, when compared to the impacts of removing them would offer a significant environmental advantage,” the commission wrote.

ACP had planned to build four metering stations in North Carolina; one, in Northampton County, was partially built. A second, in Smithfield, had been fully built.

Land for the Fayetteville and Pembroke stations had been cleared and graded, but no equipment had been installed.

This inset map shows the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s proposed restoration area in Northampton County. The area includes 1,004 feet of pipeline that will remain in the right-of-the-way. The small town at the bottom of the map is Garysburg.

As part of ACP’s “investment recovery process,” it plans to sell acreage that it owns, as well as equipment and buildings. The Smithfield metering station will be sold, including the land. Materials at the Northampton metering station will be sold or scrapped.

Once ACP, the business entity, is dissolved any remaining land or materials, known as “project assets,” it owned will be eventually distributed among its utility members: Dominion, Duke and Piedmont.

The public comment period on the proposal ends Sept. 13. You can file brief comments electronically using FERC’s eComment feature. To file longer comments that require attachments, use eFiling. You must create an account. For help, call 866-208-3676.

Here are some key numbers from the abandoned project and proposed restoration:


600 miles — length of the ACP route had it been built
31.4 miles — total length of pipeline that had been installed when Dominion and Duke canceled the project
82.7 — miles of pipeline right-of-way where land had been cleared and graded
108.4 — miles of trees that are still lying on the right-of-way where they were cut
25.2 — miles of felled trees that the ACP proposes leaving in place
83.2 — miles of felled trees where ACP proposes chipping, stacking, burning or removing them. FERC recommends leaving the trees in place unless private landowners prefer their removal.
422 — number of wetlands affected by the restoration, equivalent to 173.7 acres
35 — number of waterbodies affected by the restoration

In North Carolina:

9.6 miles — length of pipeline installed in North Carolina, in Northampton, Halifax and Nash counties
178 — acres in Northampton County that would be fully restored
279 — acres in Halifax County
113 — acres in Nash County
205 — acres in Cumberland County
3.32 — acres in Robeson County*
4 — number of metering station tracts that would be restored: Northampton, Smithfield, Fayetteville and Pembroke
4 million — estimated gallons of water required for dust control during restoration, North Carolina. The water will come from municipal sources.

*Some areas have fewer acres of restoration because construction was not as advanced when the project was canceled.

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Lisa Sorg
Lisa Sorg

Assistant Editor and Environmental Reporter Lisa Sorg helps manage newsroom operations while covering the environment, climate change, agriculture and energy.