Risky and Unnecessary Natural Gas Pipelines Threaten Our Region

Our region’s rivers, streams, and forests are in the crosshairs of a massive, highly controversial proposed interstate natural gas pipeline. Designed to move natural gas from the Marcellus Shale to the mid-Atlantic and Southeast, the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would fragment some of the most intact, forested landscapes in the Southeast—including the George Washington National Forest. Cutting across steep slopes and through rivers, streams, and wetlands, the pipeline would put numerous bodies of water at risk of increased sedimentation and harm to sensitive species like brook trout. Not only would the project harm our region’s environment and communities, but the bottom line is that it is not necessary to meet the region’s demand for natural gas.

Dominion Energy and Duke Energy are rushing forward with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline even though it lacks strong market support, and they plan to pass the cost of this pipeline on to their customers. This unnecessary pipeline will not only harm the mountains, forests and waterways in its 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 working on several fronts to challenge the construction of this pipeline. At the federal level SELC is challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on its decision to permit this project. A central argument against the pipeline is the growing evidence that the project is not necessary. In the three years since the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was proposed its justification as a fuel source for gas-fired power plants has continued to erode. New analysis shows that demand for gas-fired electricity generation is not growing in our region and is not expect to grow significantly for the foreseeable future.

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.

The proposed project has received approval from various federal and state regulatory agencies. SELC and its partners have sued five of those agencies in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit: the Federal Energy Regulatory Commis­sion, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the Virginia Department of Envi­ronmental Quality.

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.