Yesterday, the controversial 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project was scrapped. The pipeline would have transported natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia ending in North Carolina. Executives at Duke Energy (North Carolina) and Dominion Energy (Virginia) cut their loses on the project, $3.4 billion, indicating the heightened regulatory and judicial uncertainty involving pipeline infrastructure projects.
The ACP would have had a harmful effect on dozens of native trout streams and quality habitats. The proposed path of the ACP crossed 40 native brook trout streams and posed to impact many more. “The project would have crossed steep mountainous terrain, fragmented valuable forests, polluted streams and rivers, and threatened vulnerable communities along a 600-mile path,” said the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Virginia Executive Director Peggy Sanner.
Keith Curley, TU’s Vice President for Eastern Conservation, had this to say: “Given that ACP developers never put forward a construction plan that would protect the hundreds of sensitive wild trout streams in the pipeline’s path, we welcome the news that this project has been scrapped. We thank our many partners who worked so hard on this effort.”
While Duke and Dominion walking away from the project is a win for environmentalists and native Appalachian species, future infrastructure development in the region is still unclear. The same day Dominion announced its departure from the project, the company announced the sale of all its other pipelines and storage assets to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. If you know anything about Warren Buffet, you understand he rarely gets large investments wrong.
The Southern Environmental Law Center, in a press release, wrote: “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.”
In other pipeline news, however, the US District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline to temporarily shutdown to give the US Army Corps of Engineers time to adequately correct environmental reviews–which were allegedly not up to par.
More than anything, these two pipeline developments highlight that the Executive Branch can not efficiently fast-track major energy infrastructure projects. Axios’ Amy Harder viewed the ACP’s demise in this fashion, “it also underscores hurdles facing big pipelines and other projects, despite White House efforts to speed up approvals and scale back environmental reviews.
For more on the ACP, see this Washington Post article.