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Atlantic Coast Pipeline Seeks Eminent Domain in NC

FILE - In a Tuesday June 6, 2017 file photo, hydrologist William K. Jones, walks up a mountain near the route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Bolar, Va. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released its final environmental impact statement.
Steve Helber, File

Duke Energy and Dominion Energy have filed court documents to acquire land via eminent domain for construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  The utilities want to build a natural gas pipeline along the I-95 corridor, connecting to fracking operations in West Virginia. Duke and Dominion are seeking seven chunks of private land in Nash and Cumberland Counties.

Pipeline spokesman Aaron Ruby says the condemnation complaints are a last resort.

“We've been fortunate to reach agreements with about 80 percent of the landowners, and in most of those cases it was after both sides made concessions,” Ruby said.

The utilities filed eminent domain requests after failing to make deals with the remaining landowners along the proposed route, according to Ruby.

“We think it's of paramount importance that we use this tool responsibly, we use it in accordance with the law, and that we only use it as an absolute last resort after we've exhausted every other option, and we've done that,” Ruby said.

Supporters of the pipeline say it would be an economic boost to eastern North Carolina.  Opponents say the construction threatens the environment and disproportionately affects low-income residents and people of color.

Duke and Dominion also need approval from state regulators for air quality permits. They still plan to start construction next year.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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