Dominion and Duke Energy abandon Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Residents near a proposed compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline planned for Union Hill, Virginia have long been united in opposition to the project (© Friends of Nelson)

Updated July 6:

When Dominion and Duke Energy announced the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in September 2014, the public knew right from the beginning that it was wrong. National forests, the Appalachian Trail, steep landslide-prone mountains, and vulnerable communities were at risk from what looked like—and was, in fact—a lucrative sweetheart deal for Dominion and Duke shareholders.

SELC attorneys joined in the founding of the Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance, a coalition that grew to more than 50 organizations opposed to the project. And while Dominion and Duke sold the public the myth that the project was inevitable, they woefully underestimated the dedication of the coalitition.

SELC eventually represented a smaller group of conservation organizations in court cases challenging pipeline permits, coordinating with the larger coalition along the way. Those groups are: Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, Cowpasture River Preservation Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of Buckingham, Friends of Nelson, Highlanders for Responsible Development, Jackson River Preservation Association, Piedmont Environmental Council, Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc., Shenandoah Riverkeeper, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Sierra Club, Sound Rivers, Inc., Virginia Wilderness Committee, and Winyah Rivers Foundation.

It may have taken six years of relentless work, strategy, and litigation—carrying SELC’s pipeline team and clients through countless agency and community meetings, legal briefings and filings, and even all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States—but with its official cancellation, the truth about this project has finally caught up with it. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline was never needed and never wanted.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline was an anvil that would have stymied investment in renewable energy for decades, harmed vulnerable communities, and crushed mountainsides. But now this risky and unnecessary project is on the scrap heap where it belongs, and the decks are cleared.”

—Senior Attorney Greg Buppert

This is a victory for all communities and natural areas in the path of the pipeline—countless farms, rugged national forests, thousands of rivers and streams, and historic African-American and Native American communities. It also has reverberations for all Virginians and North Carolinians who are looking forward to an economy that is based on clean energy, not the burden of paying for an $8 billion pipeline that would shackle the region to fossil fuels for decades.

“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline was an anvil that would have stymied investment in renewable energy for decades, harmed vulnerable communities, and crushed mountainsides,” says Greg Buppert, a senior attorney who has lead SELC’s pipeline team over the course of the fight. “But now this risky and unnecessary project is on the scrap heap where it belongs, and the decks are cleared.”

The pipeline was originally slated to be in operation by 2018 but at the time of cancellation still lacked multiple permits and faced ballooning costs. This Herculean effort is one of very few instances in which citizen groups have successfully stopped a gas pipeline. It was possible only because of the strength and determination of SELC’s clients, like Friends of Buckingham which fought for the rights of the African-American Union Hill community to a healthy environment.

“I am so thankful, first of all, to the Lord for being with us in these trials we were going through with ACP and Dominion,” says Ruby Laury, local landowner and Friends of Buckingham councilmember. “I was so elated when I first heard the news from one of my fellow activists. I am also thankful for everyone who stood by and supported the Union Hill community. We could not have done it without all of you.”


As previously reported:

Today, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy announced they are cancelling the heavily opposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline project where costs had ballooned to $8 billion dollars and a number of needed permits remained missing following legal defeats.

“This is a victory for all the communities that were in the path of this risky and unnecessary project. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline was ill-conceived from the start. After years of opposition, legal defeats, and threats to the environment, SELC is relieved to see Duke and Dominion make the right decision to walk away from it,” said Senior Attorney Greg Buppert, who leads SELC’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline team. “This is a great day for the people of Union Hill, for public lands, for landowners in the path, and for all North Carolinians and Virginians, who deserve a clean energy future and are no longer on the hook to pay for this $8 billion pipeline.”

For more than six years SELC has represented a dedicated group of conservation organizations opposed to the pipeline, including: Alliance of the Shenandoah Valley, Cowpasture River Preservation Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Friend of Buckingham, Friends of Nelson, Jackson River Preservation Association, Highlanders for Responsible Development, Piedmont Environmental Council, Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc., Shenandoah Riverkeeper, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Sierra Club, Sound Rivers, Inc., Virginia Wilderness Committee, and Winyah Rivers Foundation.

“Today's outcome would not be possible without their energy and commitment, as well as many others throughout Virginia and North Carolina who have fought for this day,” said Buppert.

This cancellation is breaking news so we will provide updates as we learn more. For more background on the pipeline, visit stoptheacp.org.

More News

The dirty truth about biogas production and how to take action in NC

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is taking public comments on a draft air quality permit for the first project that relies...

Harvest of horseshoe crabs for blood challenged at SC wildlife refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is failing to follow the law and its obligation to protect one of South Carolina’s most pristine coastal sanct...

Court approves agreement for 99% reduction of Chemours’ chemical water pollution

A state court just approved an agreement detailing the next steps under a consent order SELC negotiated to stop Chemours from discharging 99 perc...

Endangered Nashville crayfish at risk of losing protections

Thirty-four years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service classified the Nashville crayfish as endangered. But now, the agency wants to remove th...

New Director of Regulatory Policy carries decades of expertise

The Southern Environmental Law Center is pleased to welcome its new Director of Regulatory Policy, Brenda Mallory, an esteemed Columbia Law Schoo...

COVID-19 impacts reinforce North Carolina residents’ love for public lands

A recent survey of North Carolina residents found that concerns about COVID-19 are leading to even more interest in and appreciation of in-state...

More Stories