Environmentalists Sue FERC to Stop the ACP

Aug 17, 2018

There's a new effort to block construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline -- environmental groups suing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approving the project.  FERC recently ordered Dominion to stop work on the ACP and this new legal action could put a permanent end to the pipeline.

Pipeline opponents were back in court Thursday, this time suing FERC for its conclusion -- that the ACP is needed.

To build a pipeline from West Virginia, through Virginia to North Carolina, Dominion must take private property through a legal process called eminent domain – and in order for the government to approve that process, it must first certify that there’s a public need for the project.  At the Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Greg Buppert says the federal agency that was supposed to do that made a mistake when it concluded a new pipeline was needed. 

“Signals from the market don’t support a new Interstate natural gas pipeline," he said. "Frankly it’s the most costly way to bring gas to Virginia. Ratepayers will be on the hook over the next 25 years for $1.5 to $3 billion in costs.”

Dominion disputes that claim, saying new supplies of cheap natural gas will actually mean lower rates for customers, and it points to purchase agreements it has with its own electric company as proof of demand.  Buppert is not convinced. “These are agreements between Dominion affiliates that don’t reflect what’s going on in the market.  FERC refused to look behind those contracts, and we think that’s a problem.”   

And in their lawsuit, environmentalists argue there better ways to get fracked gas to market.

“The Transco pipeline, which is the major pipeline passing through Virginia and North Carolina, has a pipeline artery with capacity and enough pipeline in the ground to meet demand in the Southeast,” Buppert explained.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has already issued a stop work order, canceling permits issued by the federal government to allow drilling under the Blue Ridge Parkway and construction that will   harm endangered species.

The SELC will also be at a state hearing of the Water Control Board Tuesday in support of its claim that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline cannot be built without harming Virginia’s rivers and streams.

In an email, a Dominion spokesperson said the end use of the gas is well established and an “urgent public necessity.” She also noted that FERC has twice upheld its decision that the project was in the public need.

A note of transparency: The SELC is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.