The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) started its journey in 2014 when it was registered as an LLC formed by four different energy companies spanning three states. The project is for a 600-mile natural gas pipeline to cross West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, and is run by Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and AGL Resources. Almost six years later and the pipeline is still waiting to be built.
It wasn’t until September 2015 that the ACP officially filed an application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for authorization to build a pipeline, but it wouldn’t be until 2017 that things would really start to ramp up. As the ACP began applying for legislative approval, Virginia continually denied it’s permit requests, finding evidence of alleged unethical actions resulting in the pipeline crossing protected lands.
The revocation of the permit to cross the Appalachian Trail has halted construction for the foreseeable future, and the appeal of the decision has reached the supreme court. The lower court’s ruling is currently being defended by the Sierra Club and the Southern Environmental Law Center, but the Supreme Court ruling is anything but certain.
The ACP has been under fire since its conception. Its risks are largely environmental, from the dangers of oil spills in protected lands to damaging existing conditions in low-income neighborhoods near the proposed pipeline.
The Sierra Club and the Southern Environmental Law Center are mainly focused on the impacts on the environment as a whole, citing the plateaued demand for natural gas and a fear of the pipeline is the first step towards large scale exports of natural gas to Europe.
The social-environmental risks of the pipeline get discussed, but they don’t have the environmental lobbying power of the Appalachian Trail. When high-polluting plants get built, they don’t get built-in nice suburban neighborhoods. There are too much wealth and power there to let that happen, so instead, they get moved to lower-income neighborhoods. Air, water, soil, and other environmental pollution increases, lowering life expectancies and real estate values. The residents of these communities, who already didn’t have the power to fight the construction of these plants, find themselves with even less political say.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is an issue that will undoubtedly remain relevant in the states it’s planning on crossing, as well as the rest of the nation with environmental and social concerns.