Risky and Unnecessary Natural Gas Pipelines Threaten Our Region

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Breaking: FERC approves contested pipeline permits More »

Late Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued its permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline projects. Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur offered a dissenting opinion.

The pipeline is slated to carry natural gas from West Virginia, across the Blue Ridge Mountains and through Virginia, into North Carolina. SELC plans to challenge the decision, having long maintained that FERC's review process is flawed and does not consider important factors like developers' inflated projections for natural gas. In Commissioner LaFleur’s dissent she cited that it is within FERC's purview to look beyond the agreements put forth by the utilities involved in this project to establish proof of need for the pipeline.

State agencies are set to weigh in on permits involving water quality and other environmental impacts under their jurisdiction in the coming months.

"While FERC's anticipated rubber-stamp of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline follows a long trend of this agency's failure to carry out its responsibilities and properly assess projects, Commissioner LaFleur's unexpected dissent shows that, even within FERC, this pipeline is seen as harmful and unnecessary,” said SELC Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. “SELC plans to challenge the majority's decision to brush under the rug compelling evidence that this environmentally destructive pipeline is not needed to meet the energy demands of our region. The utilities involved in the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline claim utility customers will save money, when in fact this pipeline will drive up ratepayers' bills—and cause harm to national forests, and to rivers and streams, while threatening to commit our states to fossil fuels for decades to come. But today's decision is not the end. It's now up to North Carolina and Virginia state leaders to actually take a look at the real, serious, and unnecessary risks to water quality and other resources, and put the brakes on this wasteful project."

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Rivers, streams and forests of the central Appalachian Mountains are in the crosshairs of proposed interstate gas pipeline projects. One of these projects, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, would cut through one of the most intact conservation landscapes in the Southeast in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, including sections of the George Washington, and Monongahela national forests, to move natural gas from the well-fields to Mid-Atlantic and Southeast customers.

Dominion Energy, Duke Energy and their partners are rushing forward with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline even though it lacks strong market support. This unnecessary pipeline will not only harm the mountains, forests and waterways in it’s path – it will also disrupt the lives of the people living and working along its 600 mile long route and lock a new generation into decades more of fossil fuel consumption.

SELC is advocating for a thorough and transparent assessment of need for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In the three years since this project was proposed its justification has continued to erode. New analysis shows that demand for gas-fired electricity generation is not growing in our region. But utilities in the region continue to inflate the need for electricity.

Question of Demand

There is notable difference between Dominion’s inflated demand projection and that of the region’s grid operator, PJM Interconnection. By 2027, that difference equals almost 2 gas-fired power plants.

SELC is a founding member of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, a coalition of 43 organizations from across Virginia and West Virginia with grave concerns about the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. SELC has partnered with citizens who are acutely concerned about the risks to their agricultural and rural communities, including damage to scenic landscapes and the risk of pollution.

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