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Atlantic Coast Pipeline wins qualified VA go-ahead

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A divided Virginia regulatory panel has given a qualified go-ahead to building a controversial natural gas pipeline across the state, but made its approval contingent on further review of the project’s water-quality impacts.

The State Water Control Board’s 4–3 vote on Tuesday, coming at the end of a tense two-day public meeting in Richmond, prompted opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to claim a partial victory, though officials seemed at a loss to explain what the decision means.

Before granting the project a key approval, some of the board’s seven members questioned whether they had enough information to certify that water quality would not be harmed by construction of the 600-mile pipeline across wild, mountainous terrain and the state’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Therefore, the board conditioned approval on completion of several environmental impact studies.  

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About Energy

Energy production has had a profound influence on the Chesapeake and its tributaries since European settlement. Settlers built thousands of dams across streams and rivers to provide power for mills and industry. More modern dams create hydroelectric power, but dramatically affect river ecosystems and close them to fish migration.

Combustion of fossil fuels is a major source of pollution to the Chesapeake, and activities such as drilling in the Marcellus Shale can affect stream health and permanently alter terrestrial habitats.

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