FERC rejects requests to reconsider its approval of the ACP, opening the door for a judicial challenge to its permit

FERC rejects requests to reconsider its approval of the ACP, opening the door for a judicial challenge to its permit

WASHINGTON, DC— Today, the Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates on behalf of a group of 13 conservation organizations filed suit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and, in the groups' view, its wrongful 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. 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,” said Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Greg Buppert.

FERC’s 2-1 decision to reject a rehearing was accompanied by a dissenting opinion from Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur that directly questioned whether there is sufficient evidence to support the need for two pipelines in our region. A non-voting commissioner also dissented, saying he did not vote “solely to enable those parties challenging the Certificate to have their day in court.” Commissioner Richard Glick 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 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,” said Buppert.

Most of the arguments put forth by ACP developers three years ago have crumbled. The misinformation ACP developers used as justification for this pipeline that we know are false includes:

  • ACP is needed for power plants - 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 - Testimony at the Virginia State Corporation Commission has revealed that customers will pay anywhere from $1.6 – $3B 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 - 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.

“From the day this dirty, dangerous pipeline was proposed, communities, experts, and the builders themselves have known that it had nothing to do with need and everything to do with greed. At a time when clean, renewable energy is affordable and abundant, the only reason to lock us into decades of dependence on climate-disrupting fracked gas is that polluting corporations are making billions of dollars off it. It’s a shame that we have to go to court to force FERC to do its job, but we are committed to using every available avenue to stop the ACP and all the other coal, oil, and gas projects that threaten our climate and communities,” said Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign Senior Campaign Representative Joan Walker.

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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For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With more than 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org