- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Dominion Resources Inc. said Monday it has come up with alternative segments for portions of a 550-mile proposed natural gas pipeline in two Virginia counties where many local landowners have been fighting the project.

The company said the alternative segments of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Augusta County and Nelson County will potentially have “the least impact to environmental, historic and cultural resources” compared to initial plans.

But pipeline opponents said the proposed alternatives amount to “tiny” changes that don’t allay any of their concerns with the proposal.

Dominion said details of the proposed alternative routes would be made public when the company files a report with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission later this month, but identified four areas in the two counties where it’s considering alternative segments.

“ACP has been listening to landowners, federal and state agencies and surveying to find the route with the least impact. While we have not surveyed them yet, we have determined there are several alternate segments that may have less of an impact than the initially proposed route,” said Leslie Hartz, vice president of Pipeline Construction for Dominion Transmission Inc.

That company is the Dominion subsidiary responsible for overseeing the pipeline’s construction.

Dominion and its partners are proposing the pipeline run from West Virginia, through Virginia and into North Carolina. It would deliver natural gas from West Virginia and other states to the Southeast. Proponents of the pipeline, including Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, said it will be a boost for Virginia’s economy.

But opponents, a mix of environmentalists and potentially affected landowners, are putting up strong resistance. They say the proposal could decrease property values and disrupt historic and environmentally sensitive locations.

Rick Cornelius, a member of the anti-pipeline group “All Pain, No Gain,” said Monday’s announcement did not address any of his group’s concerns, such as locating the pipeline in existing right-of-ways instead of private property.

“Many of the very same environmental issues are still in play even though this is supposedly a new route,” he said.

On Friday, protesters at the Dominion Riverrock outdoor festival in Richmond held up brightly lit letters spelling “Dominion: No Pipeline” on a bridge overlooking the event.

___

Associated Press writer Steve McMillan contributed to this report.

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