New study questions economic benefit claims of Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Dominion Resources and its partners are proposing a 550-mile interestate pipeline through North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia based on questionable economic calculations, according to a new study. (© iStock)

The claimed economic benefits of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) are overstated, lack sufficient supporting data, and fail to account for environmental and societal costs, according to a new analysis by Synapse Energy Economics.

The Synapse study examines two economic benefit reports released by Dominion Resources, the principal shareholder in the ACP project, and exposes the problems with their economic claims. The pipeline is proposed to carry natural gas from Clarksburg, West Virginia through 13 Virginia counties and 8 eastern North Carolina counties before terminating in Lumberton, NC.

Among Synapse’s principal findings were:

  • The reports lack the “transparency and verifiable data necessary for independent review” and “do not provide the useful, objective tools necessary to inform a public decision-making process meant to ensure the public good.”
  • “The conclusion that all energy savings to businesses from the ACP will be used to create new jobs is not supported by evidence.” Further, “based on the flaws that were identifiable in the report, it is likely that the results overestimate the benefits of the pipeline.”  
  • One study “provides detailed tax revenue benefits for three states, but fails to provide any underlying data or assumptions for these tax revenue calculations.”

The review by Synapse also highlights several societal and environmental costs of the ACP not addressed in either report. Examples include:

  • “Very large, high pressure natural gas transmission pipelines like the one proposed by Dominion pose substantial public safety risks to nearby residents...Despite the passage of the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act in 2002, there have been more than 3,000 significant accidents, causing more than 150 fatalities, hundreds of injuries, and billions of dollars in property damage, including four major incidents in North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia in the last few years.”
  • “The ACP project could have detrimental effects on property values in communities where the pipeline will be located...Reduced property values would lead to lower assessed real estate values and, therefore, lower tax revenues.”
  • Pipeline construction “could lead to water quality impacts, may damage productive farmland and forest land, can have detrimental impacts on wildlife through habitat loss and fragmentation,” and “could affect the natural beauty and recreational value of areas like the Blue Ridge Mountains, Monongahela National Forest, and the George Washington National Forest.”

Click here for full text of the Synapse report.

Click here for the press release from SELC and Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance on the Synapse Report

Learn more about SELC’s role with the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance and the proposed pipeline here.

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