Atlantic Coast Pipeline confronts its expiration date

Pipeline should lose its federal certification

Washington, DC— Today the Southern Environmental Law Center, joined by partners at Appalachian Mountain Advocates, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the law firm Johns & Counsel, opposed  Dominion Energy and Duke Energy’s request for two additional years to build the risky and unnecessary Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The filing, made with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on behalf of multiple conservation groups and landowners, implores the Commission to deny an extension for a pipeline that does not fit the changing energy landscape of Virginia or North Carolina.

“Since FERC approved it in 2017, a litany of new reasons have emerged to show that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is obsolete,” said Mark Sabath, Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “One major reason is the landmark Virginia Clean Economy Act. This new energy legislation forces Dominion to abandon its ill-advised plans to build new gas power plants and to close its existing plants. Now that both Virginia and North Carolina have committed to renewable energy and a carbon-free future, FERC’s original approval of the ACP has not just grown stale, but has fully decayed.”

The ACP, one of the most expensive gas pipelines in the country, is now years behind schedule and less than six percent complete because of its developers’ refusal to acknowledge the risks of the unreasonable route they chose. Over the last four years, Atlantic Coast Pipeline ignored expert agency recommendations, declined to provide important information to agencies, and refused to acknowledge the historic African-American community of Union Hill in its efforts to push its pipeline forward. That approach has backfired.

“The fact that we had to go to federal court to prove that we, a majority Black community, even existed and that our air quality should be protected speaks volumes to why this pipeline doesn’t make any sense,” said Friends of Buckingham member John Laury.

In January 2020, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the permit for a pipeline compressor station in Union Hill, Virginia, for failing to meet environmental justice standards—just one of the eight required permits the ACP is missing.  And just this week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ended FERC’s unfair tolling practice, which had allowed pipeline construction to proceed before the Commission’s review was complete. With eight missing permits, multiple incomplete agency reviews, and a final route that is still unknown almost six years into the process, Dominion and Duke must not be allowed to build the ACP.

“FERC should firmly reject Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s request for more time to ‘fix’ a project that would inevitably fragment valuable forest lands, pollute streams, and threaten vulnerable communities from the mountains to the Chesapeake Bay. With evidence clearly establishing the lack of demand for energy generated from fossil fuels like natural gas, the proposed pipeline project is a road to nowhere for Virginia and the broader region,” said CBF Virginia Executive Director Peggy Sanner.  

Today’s filing was submitted on behalf of the following parties: Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Inc., Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Cowpasture River Preservation Association, Friends of Buckingham, Friends of Nelson, Highlanders for Responsible Development, Piedmont Environmental Council, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Sierra Club, Sound Rivers, Inc., Virginia Wilderness Committee, Wild Virginia, Inc., Winyah Rivers Foundation, Richard Averitt, Richard G. Averitt III, and Rockfish Valley Investments, LLC.