FERC faces court challenge on Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Pipeline construction, like this project in the Northeast, causes a host of problems including erosion and habitat loss. Since Virginia and North Carolina already have adequate access to natural gas supplies, there's no need to build new pipeline infrastructure. 

Today, SELC and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, on behalf of 13 conservation groups, filed suit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and its refusal to look behind Dominion’s inflated claims that the pipeline is needed in Virginia and North Carolina.

FERC ordered the ACP construction stopped because the Fourth Circuit determined that permits were issued without proper scrutiny," said Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. "On the very same day, FERC rejected a rehearing request in which the conservation groups asserted that it also rushed through its decision to permit a pipeline that we don’t need. ”

FERC’s 2-1 decision to reject a rehearing was accompanied by a dissenting opinion from Commission Cheryl LaFleur that directly questioned whether there is sufficient evidence to support the need for two pipelines in our region.

A non-voting commissioner, Richard Glick, also dissented, saying he did not vote “solely to enable those parties challenging the certificate to have their day in court.” He also said, “I share many of the concerns articulated in Commissioner LaFleur’s dissenting opinion and I do not believe that the ACP Project has been shown to be in the public interest.”

It’s clear that, even within FERC, there are questions about the need for this pipeline," said Buppert, "and the unnecessary harm it will cause to the surrounding communities, the environment, and the customers in Virginia and North Carolina that will bear the financial burden.”

Most of the arguments put forth by pipeline developers three years ago when they were first seeking permits have crumbled. The misinformation developers peddled as justification for this pipeline now known to be false includes:

  • ACP is needed for power plants – Not true. Gas-fired power plants in Virginia and North Carolina are already connected to the existing pipeline system and will have few direct connections to the ACP.
  • Savings for residents – Not true. Testimony at the Virginia State Corporation Commission revealed that customers will pay anywhere from $1.6 – $3 billion for the ACP, and could be paying for this pipeline in their monthly bills regardless of whether the gas is used to generate power or not.
  • Savings for businesses – Not true. The fracked gas from the ACP will be more expensive than the gas that is currently available in Virginia through existing infrastructure, which means no savings for businesses.
  • Job creation – Not true. Without cheaper gas as an incentive, the pipeline is not likely to attract new businesses and new jobs to our region.

Contrived Need

Dominion's projections for growth in natural gas demand far exceed predictions made by the regional grid operator, PJM. This exaggeration creates a false narrative around the need for new pipeline. 

The Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed the lawsuit in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Cowpasture River Preservation Association, Friends of Buckingham, Highlanders for Responsible Development, Piedmont Environmental Council, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Shenandoah Valley Network, the Sierra Club, Sound Rivers, Virginia Wilderness Committee, Wild Virginia, and Winyah Rivers Foundation.

To learn more about this destructive pipeline and the people in its path, go to inthepath.org.

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