The U.S. fossil fuel industry just received another big blow. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will not be completed. The owners of Dominion Energy and Duke Energy – the companies in charge of building it – announced on Sunday that the project was cancelled due to growing delays and uncertainty. The pipeline was going to transport fracked natural gas through 600 miles from West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina.
The companies stated that the many legal challenges for the project nearly doubled the projected costs, from $4.5 -$5 billion back when it was first announced in 2014 to $8 billion, according to recent estimates.
— Duke Energy (@DukeEnergy) July 5, 2020
Support from environmental groups
Environmental and community groups who had opposed this project for a long time on the environment, conservation, and racial justice grounds welcomed this news.
“If anyone still had questions about whether or not the era of fracked gas was over, this should answer them,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement.
“Today is a historic victory for clean water, the climate, public health, and our communities. Duke and Dominion did not decide to cancel the Atlantic Coast Pipeline—the people and frontline organizations that led this fight for years forced them into walking away. Today’s victory reinforces that united communities are more powerful than the polluting corporations that put profits over our health and future.”
ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE CANCELLED
🗣️ @EnvMary, VCN Executive Director
“Today’s announcement shows that Virginia is at the end of the fossil fuel era and well on its way to powering our homes and businesses with 100% clean energy. (1/4)https://t.co/1YDmTb6BvA
— Virginia Conservation Network (@VCNVAorg) July 5, 2020
One victory is not enough
The utilities’ announcement comes just three weeks after the pipeline obtained a significant legal victory. The Supreme Court ruled that it could go through the Appalachian Trail. At that time, environmental groups clarified that the project still needed 8 more permits.
Early this year, a federal court vacated a permit to build a natural gas compressor in Union Hill, a historic black community in Virginia. The decision came after community members successfully argued that it would disproportionately harm the health of the mainly African American citizens who lived nearby.
Friends of Buckingham, a community group that has been instrumental in the campaign against the compressor, tweeted on Sunday: “Many hands, hearts n minds are singing it out.” “We, the People, have overcome today!”
Courts have also tossed permits over the pipeline’s plans to cut a visible scar through the forest as it crosses beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway, its crossing of more than 1,500 streams and rivers in West Virginia and its impact on endangered species like the Indiana bat and Madison cave isopod, Sierra Magazine pointed out in 2019.
— SELC (Environmental Law) (@selc_org) July 5, 2020
The fight continues
The legal scenario described by Duke and Dominion in their statements reflects the growing vulnerability of all fossil fuel pipeline projects.
“We regret that we will be unable to complete the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” Dominion and Duke Energy chairs, presidents, and chief executive officers Thomas F. Farrell, II and Lynn J. Good said in Sunday’s statement. “For almost six years we have worked diligently and invested billions of dollars to complete the project and deliver the much-needed infrastructure to our customers and communities.
“This announcement reflects the increasing legal uncertainty that overhangs large-scale energy and industrial infrastructure development in the United States. Until these issues are resolved, the ability to satisfy the country’s energy needs will be significantly challenged,” they added.
However, ACP opponents insist that installations such as this are not really necessary to satisfy the country’s energy needs.
“The costly and unneeded Atlantic Coast Pipeline would have threatened waterways and communities across its 600-mile path,” Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Gillian Giannetti said.
— Gillian Giannetti (@GillianEnergy) July 6, 2020
But there is seemingly still money in fossil fuels. Also on Sunday, Dominion Energy announced that it was selling its natural gas transmission and storage assets to Berkshire Hathaway Energy for an estimated $10 billion, E&E News reported.
For more information, check Energía16