At every stage of the project we've taken tremendous care to protect the environment and minimize impacts on landowners.
Our commitment to environmental protection begins with the exhaustive process of selecting an environmentally responsible route, but extends through every phase of the project - from the first days of construction through the final days of restoration.
Avoiding Environmental Resources
Working together with landowners and communities, we spent more than two years developing the safest and most environmentally responsible route for the pipeline.
We carefully studied more than 6,000 miles of potential routes before choosing the best 600-mile route with the least impact. After consulting with landowners and performing extensive field surveys, we’ve made more than 300 route adjustments to avoid environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands, wildlife habitats, drinking water sources and sensitive geologic features. In hundreds of cases we’ve worked with individual landowners to choose a better route with fewer impacts on their property.
Data collected from archaeological/cultural resources, sensitive species and habitats as well as wetland and waterbody resources were used to avoid and minimize impacts on sensitive resources. Construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will follow best management practices which include protecting native species, preserving wetland and water resources, controlling erosion and minimizing emissions.
For more details on the planned environmental initiatives, select a title from the graphic below. Fact sheets and plans are also available in Informational Resources.
Restoring the Land
Natural gas pipelines are a normal part of everyday life for most Americans, just like many other kinds of transportation and utility infrastructure. Even though most Americans live, work and travel alongside underground pipelines every day, they go virtually unnoticed.
During construction, the area needed to build the pipeline will be 110 to 125-feet wide. Once construction is complete, however, the permanent right of way needed to operate the pipeline will narrow to 50 feet. The pipeline will be buried underground with 3 to 5 feet of cover, which is well above the typical depth of groundwater aquifers. In agricultural areas, the pipe will be buried with 4 feet of cover to accommodate most types of farming equipment.
As soon as construction is complete, we restore the land as close as possible to its original condition so landowners can continue using it as they always have. Farmers, for example, can continue growing crops and pasturing livestock on the right of way. In fact, most of the right of way will be covered by pasture, croplands and woodland meadows, where the right of way will easily blend into the surrounding landscape.
Protecting the Water
We recognize how vitally important clean water is to all of us and our environment, which is why we’ve taken concrete steps to protect water sources along the route of the pipeline. We've conducted extensive studies of every water source along the proposed route - from streams and wetlands to private wells and underground springs. That’s allowed us to adjust the route where necessary to protect sensitive resources, and also to develop site-specific water protection plans.
For example, we’ve adjusted the route on numerous occasions to avoid public drinking water sources, private wells and natural springs. We’ve also adopted water body crossing methods specifically designed to avoid impacting sensitive aquatic species, such as mussels, etc. The pipeline will be buried underground with 3 to 5 feet of cover, which is well above the typical depth of groundwater aquifers.
Protecting Sensitive Geology
For many decades, pipelines have been safely built and operated through karst terrain, including more than 450 miles in Virginia. In fact, 40 percent of the land mass east of the Mississippi is characterized by karst geology, and thousands of miles of pipelines have operated safely through those areas for many years. The key is carefully surveying the route to avoid features like sinkholes and caves, and then using best-in-class construction and engineering techniques designed specifically to protect karst geology. With the help of leading karst experts, we’ve conducted extensive geological surveys along the route and made numerous adjustments to avoid sensitive karst features like sinking rivers, natural springs and caves. We’ve also developed robust plans to protect karst geology during construction. For detailed maps of potential karst areas, visit our Informational Resources page.
Preserving Our Natural, Cultural and Historical Resources