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Atlantic Coast Gas Pipeline

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This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor and the Center for Media and Democracy.
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Atlantic Coast Gas Pipeline is a proposed natural gas pipeline.[1]

Location

The pipeline would run from Harrison County, West Virginia, to Robeson County, North Carolina.

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Project Details

  • Operator: Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, Southern Company Gas
  • Current capacity: Million cubic feet per day
  • Proposed capacity: 1.5 Billion cubic feet per day
  • Length: 600 miles / 965 km
  • Status: Construction
  • Start Year: 2019

Background

Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC is the developer and planned operator of the pipeline; the company is a joint venture between Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and Southern Company Gas,[2] with Dominion serving as the lead stakeholder.[3] The pipeline is proposed to start in Harrison County, West Virginia, drawing gas from wells in the Utica and Marcellus gas fields, and travel southeast through eastern Virginia and North Carolina to its terminus in Robeson County, North Carolina.[2] A branch is proposed to run east to Chesapeake, Virginia, bringing the total length to about 600 miles.[2] The pipeline is proposed to have a 42-inch diameter for much of its length, with the southern end in North Carolina measuring 36 inches wide.[4] It would have a capacity of about 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas daily.[5]

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline [ACP] originated in September 2013 when the Obama administration granted a request from Dominion Transmission to export gas to Japan and India.[6][7] The proposal was announced on record at West Virginia County Commissioner Meetings on May 27, 2014 in Lewis County, WV by Robert Orndorff, Dominion Transmission Representative [8], on July 1, 2014 in Pocahontas County, WV [9], and on August 7, 2014 in Randolph County by Lauren Ragland and Ed Wade Jr. founders of "West Virginia Wilderness Lovers". [10], and the developers began the application process for regulatory approval the following month.[4] The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project on December 30, 2016, with a final EIS issued on July 21, 2017 after a period of public comment on the draft.[5] Contingent on federal approval, construction is proposed to begin in late 2017[5]—a construction contract was signed in September 2016 in preparation—and gas transport is planned to begin in late 2019.[2] The cost of building the pipeline is estimated at $5.1 billion.[5]

Opposition

Plans for the pipeline led protests from landowners in its path, largely in Virginia.[11] An anti-pipeline group, "All Pain No Gain," raised money to run radio and television advertising in opposition of the pipeline, and dozens of landowners attempted to block surveyors from their property, though the pipeline's developers filed lawsuits against them,[11] and Virginia law permits surveying on private property, as well as the use of eminent domain in construction.[4] Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Southern Environmental Law Center (a Charlottesville, Virginia-based non-profit), and Appalachian Voices, have also expressed opposition.[5] After the issuance of the draft EIS, a Sierra Club official said that the developers had not proven the demand for the gas transported by the pipeline, as well as criticizing the EIS for not addressing the risks of building a pipeline through unstable karst terrain prone to sinkholes and landslides.[5] An official at Dominion Resources, one of the developers, said that the pipeline route had been adjusted 300 times, for a total of 250 miles of rerouting, since its original draft in order to accommodate "environmentally sensitive areas" and other concerns.[5]

Critics note that the proposed route disproportionately impacts Native Americans, including members of the Meherrin, Haliwa-Saponi, Coharie, and Lumbee Tribes of North Carolina.[12] Data from the EIS show that Native Americans make up over 13% of the population living in census tracts located within one mile the proposed route through North Carolina while constituting only 1.2% of the state's population.[12] Although the EIS contained an environmental justice analysis as required by federal Executive Order 12898, the analysis failed to identify disproportionate impacts, leading an academic researcher to highlight links between the flawed analysis and the failure of regulators and developers to adequately consult tribal governments.[12] The same researcher noted similarities between tribal consultation issues surrounding both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline.[12] Individual tribal governments and North Carolina's Commission of Indian Affairs have raised formal concerns to federal regulators about lack of government consultation on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.[13][14][15][16] The National Congress of American Indians has also issued a formal resolution calling for permitting activities to cease until regulators engage in meaningful consultation with the Haliwa-Saponi and other tribes living along the proposed route.[17] Overall, approximately 30,000 Native Americans live in census tracts located within one mile of the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.[12]

In December of 2018, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Cowpasture v U.S. Forest Service case vacated a permit that allowed the pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail on National Forest land. The court determined the Forest Service lacks authority to grant pipeline rights-of-way across the trail on federal land. In May of 2019, the U.S. Solicitor General asked the Supreme Court to extend the time the government has to file a petition in an appeal of a circuit court decision preventing Dominion Energy Inc from building the Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline across the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Solicitor General Noel Francisco is seeking a one-month extension until June 25 of 2019. Without the extension, the time expires on May 28. Some analysts think Dominion could cancel the pipeline if the Supreme Court does not hear the case because the project's costs have ballooned due to legal and regulatory delays. Dominion said it welcomed news that the Solicitor General would join the case, Dominion's Chief Executive Thomas Farrell said this would increase the chances the court will hear the case. Farrell said Dominion hopes to overcome other legal challenges that will allow the company to resume construction of the $7.0 billion to $7.5 billion pipeline in the third quarter and complete it by early 2021. Dominion suspended construction in early December after the Fourth Circuit stayed a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit that authorized building the pipe in areas inhabited by threatened or endangered species. Analysts at Height Capital Markets in Washington, DC, said they expect the Supreme Court to grant the extension but do not expect the court to take up the case. The court will likely make a decision in the fourth quarter.[18]

Conflicts of Interest

On December 7, 2017, the state of Virginia’s Water Control Board convened for the first of three key meetings to decide the fate of a number of contentious pipeline projects, including the Atlantic Gas Pipeline. According to DeSmog Blog, the newest member of Virginia’s Water Control Board has past links to Dominion:[19] “Board member Timothy Hayes, appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe this past August, is a retired lobbyist and attorney who previously represented the energy company. Hayes retired in 2012 from the Richmond-based firm Hunton & Williams, which has been representing Dominion’s subsidiary Virginia Electric & Power Co. for several years. Hayes personally represented the company in a 2020 air pollution case, along with former colleagues who have represented it as recently as October this year . . . Both the offices of Governor McAuliffe and the Secretary of the Commonwealth, who are responsible for hiring state board members, did not provide comment on why someone with past ties to Dominion was appointed to the Water Control Board before the pending pipeline vote. A spokesperson for the DEQ said: “Mr. Hayes has confirmed that he has no conflict of interest and is able to participate in State Water Control Board decisions.” In April 2017, DeSmog also revealed that “a third-party contractor reviewing the Atlantic Coast pipeline on behalf of FERC is tied to Dominion’s main environmental contractor on the project. The third-party contractor, Merjent, had listed Natural Resource Group LLC, the firm working for Dominion, on its website’s client list. After the revelation, Merjent inexplicably removed Natural Resource Group’s name from its online list.”[20]

Articles and resources

References

  1. Atlantic Coast Gas Pipeline, Wikipedia, accessed September 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Atlantic Coast Pipeline hires main construction contractor. Oil and Gas Journal (September 22, 2016). Retrieved on February 7, 2017.
  3. McAuliffe doubles down on pipeline support, hints at economic prospects. Richmond Times-Dispatch (December 15, 2016). Retrieved on February 7, 2017.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Appalachia gathers dissent to gas pipeline bound for eastern N.C.. McClatchy DC (November 11, 2014). Retrieved on February 7, 2017.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Long-awaited draft environmental statement on Dominion's Atlantic Coast Pipeline released. Richmond Times-Dispatch (December 30, 2017). Retrieved on February 7, 2017.
  6. http://pch.stparchive.com/page_image.php?paper=PCH&year=2014&month=6&day=5&page=1&mode=F&base=PCH06052014P01&title=The%20Pocahontas%20Times
  7. http://pch.stparchive.com/page_image.php?paper=PCH&year=2014&month=6&day=5&page=8&mode=F&base=PCH06052014P08&title=The%20Pocahontas%20Times
  8. http://press-exp.blogspot.com/2014/08/dominion-at-lewis-cty-commissioners.html
  9. http://pch.stparchive.com/page_image.php?paper=PCH&year=2014&month=7&day=3&page=1&mode=F&base=PCH07032014P01&title=The%20Pocahontas%20Times
  10. http://press-rcc.blogspot.com/2014/08/randolph-county-commission.html
  11. 11.0 11.1 Battle heats up over controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline. McClatchy DC (June 15, 2015). Retrieved on February 7, 2017.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Emanuel, Ryan E. (2017-07-21). "Flawed environmental justice analyses" (in en). Science 357 (6348): 260–260. doi:10.1126/science.aao2684. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 28729502. 
  13. Letter from Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (March 29, 2017).
  14. Letter from Coharie Tribe to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (March 29, 2017).
  15. Letter from Haliwa-Saponi Tribe to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (April 4, 2017).
  16. Letter from North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (April 6, 2017).
  17. National Congress of American Indians Resolution, "Support for the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe to Protect its Lands, Waters, Sacred Places and Ancestors" (June 15, 2017).
  18. {https://news.yahoo.com/u-asks-supreme-court-more-181146136.html U.S. asks Supreme Court for more time on Atlantic Coast natgas pipe appeal} Yahoo News, accessed May 2019
  19. On Eve of Key Atlantic Coast Pipeline Decision, Here’s a Review of Dominion’s Ties to Decision-makers, DeSmog, Dec. 5, 2017
  20. Firm Hired by FERC to Review Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline Linked to Project’s Main Environmental Contractor DeSmog, Apr. 2, 2017

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External resources

External articles

Wikipedia also has an article on Atlantic Coast Gas Pipeline (Atlantic Pipeline). This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License].'