Cancellation of Atlantic Coast Pipeline buoys opponents of another controversial project

WDBJ7's Joe Dashiell reports
Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 9:09 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to a packed room at the State Capitol six years ago.

But the opposition was immediate. And the legal challenges continued.

Sunday, the two companies said ongoing delays and increasing costs threatened the economic viability of the project. And they announced the cancellation of the ACP.

“Seeing the outpouring of excitement, and relief is a great word, of folks along that route,” said Russell Chisholm, “to wake up today and not have to deal with that nightmare any more, is pretty powerful.”

Chisholm is co-chair of the POWHR Coalition, an organization formed to fight the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

He said the news about the ACP was more than a morale booster, and other environmental advocates agree.

Elly Benson is a senior attorney with the Sierra Club.

“You know they both were seen as inevitable, and now we’ve seen that that is not the case,” Benson told reporters during a teleconference Monday afternoon. “You know Mountain Valley Pipeline has lost all of these same permits that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has lost.”

A spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline said the two projects are very different, with MVP roughly 92 percent complete, and its capacity fully subscribed.

Natalie Cox said the MVP team remains committed to bringing the project into service in early 2021.

Opponents dispute MVP’s estimate of the completed work, and Chisholm said their opposition will continue.

“It just goes to show we’ve got to keep showing up,” Chisholm said, “got to keep fighting for each other and ultimately we do believe that we will win.”

Following is the complete statement from Mountain Valley Pipeline:

“We recognize that the decision by the companies leading development of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to cancel that project is disappointing for the workers, families, businesses and communities that stood to benefit from its construction and operation. From the beginning, ACP and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) have been very different projects, as evidenced by the fact that total project work for MVP is roughly 92% complete. MVP’s transportation capacity has been fully subscribed since the onset of the project and MVP will play a critical role in meeting the growing demand for a reliable, affordable, clean-burning source of domestic energy in the mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States. The MVP project team remains committed to bringing this essential natural gas infrastructure project into service in early 2021.”

Following are statements from the co-chairs of the POWHR Coalition:

Russell Chisholm, POWHR co-chair

“Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines have been doomed from the start, yet recklessly and carelessly proceeded to trample people, sacred places, and human rights to serve their own financial gain. Like MVP, Dominion’s disaster has been propped up by hollow and baseless assurances to investors and regulators alike. Only four months ago Dominion argued before the US Supreme Court they should be permitted to burrow their pipeline under the historic and iconic Appalachian Trail. Dominion’s abandonment of this project serves as a reminder to all who are working for environmental justice: stick together, keep fighting, keep showing up for each other. Today we celebrate with the community of Union Hill and pipeline fighters everywhere.”

Roberta Bondurant, POWHR co-chair

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission capitulated to Dominion and ACP over the objections of communities, dragging landowners through the wringer of eminent domain abuse and an arduous certification process—only to see ACP defeated by the very same challenges still facing MVP. ‘Build first, fix problems later’ will always fail the public when our very real—now proven—concerns for our water and other natural assets are ignored in the name of private profit. Nelson Mandela said, ‘It always seems impossible until it is done.’ Applause and congratulations to our friends along the now abandoned ACP. We celebrate with you.”

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