The following is statement by Atlantic Coast Pipeline spokesperson Aaron Ruby regarding the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s stay of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement:
We respectfully but strongly disagree with the court’s decision. We believe this stay is not only unwarranted, but overly broad. We are filing a motion for emergency clarification on the scope of the court’s decision. We do not believe there is any basis for the court to stay the entire Biological Opinion, which authorizes all 600 miles of the project. The issues in this case involve a much narrower scope of the project covered under the Incidental Take Statement – only four species and roughly 100 miles in West Virginia and Virginia. We will have more clarity on the scope of the court’s stay and its impact on the project when the court responds to our motion.
We believe the Fish & Wildlife Service thoroughly addressed the issues raised by the court and the petitioners in this case when it re-authorized the project’s Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement in September. In developing this project over the last four years, we have taken extraordinary care to protect the sensitive species at issue in this case. We will vigorously defend the agency’s re-authorizations and the measures we’ve taken to protect the species in oral arguments before the court early next year.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is vitally important to the economic and environmental future of our region. Public utilities are depending on this infrastructure to generate cleaner electricity and provide more affordable, reliable energy to consumers and businesses. Delaying the project will only force consumers and businesses to pay higher energy costs and slow down the transition to cleaner energy. Consumers are already paying higher energy costs than they should and major industries are having their natural gas service shut off during the winter months. We cannot solve these challenges without new infrastructure.