FERC takes next step to advance unwanted, unneeded Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Among the many concerns about the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline is the plan for the pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail, a more than 2,100-mile National Scenic Trail that runs from Georgia to Maine. (© iStock)

SELC, along with a coalition of dozens of concerned groups, is condemning the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s draft review of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, issued today. In claiming that the project’s numerous adverse environmental impacts can be mitigated, FERC’s findings fail to take into account the lack of need for this pipeline, the irreparable damage to our natural terrain, and the future impact on our economy.

"The current route carves through the mountains in an area the U.S. Forest Service calls, 'the wildland core of the central Appalachians', for a pipeline that will lock generations of Virginians into dependence on natural gas,” said Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. “We already have the gas needed to bridge us from dirty to clean energy—existing infrastructure can meet our demands for natural gas for at least the next fifteen years.”

At least one independent study has shown that there is more than enough energy capacity in the form of natural gas to meet the maximum demands of Virginia and both the Carolinas through 2030. Instead a subsidiary of Dominion Power is proposing a more than 550-mile natural gas pipeline running through Virginia from West Virginia to North Carolina that would cut through private property and important habitats, as well as across the Appalachian Trail.

The reality is that the “demand” for this gas is coming directly from Dominion. Not only is Dominion making money through its affiliates building the pipeline, but it’s also Dominion affiliates that would be buying the gas delivered from the pipeline. This is a win-win for Dominion and a lose-lose for our region.

This $5 billion pipeline project has garnered strong opposition over the last two years from farmers, businesses, landowners, and communities along the proposed path of the pipeline, and rightfully so. A pipeline of this magnitude would have a lifespan of decades that would trap generations into relying on dirty energy at a time when we could be investing in and embracing clean energy.

Companies across the country including giants like Apple, Google, GM, and Walmart are locking in to reaching 100% renewable energy.

“In order for our region to compete in attracting businesses committed to clean energy we are going to have to keep up with the times,” Buppert said. “Now is the time for investing in clean energy, not in building pipelines that will soon be obsolete."

Now that FERC has issued its findings in a draft Environmental Impact Statement, the public has until April 6 to weigh in on the agency’s review. SELC and its partners will submit their own comments following a more in-depth analysis of the documents

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