Home Environment & Climate News Ballooning Costs from Lawsuits Lead Companies to Cancel Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Ballooning Costs from Lawsuits Lead Companies to Cancel Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, two of the largest utilities in the United States, announced they are cancelling the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project, which had been in various stages of development for six years.

The ACP would have carried natural gas 600 miles from West Virginia to North Carolina to provide fuel for electric power along the East Coast.

Costly Lawsuits

When it was first proposed in 2014, the two companies estimated the ACP project would cost approximately $4.5 billion from planning through completion, including permitting and construction.

When Dominion and Duke announced they were cancelling the project, the companies said permitting delays and mounting costs resulting from constant legal challenges filed by environmental groups had increased the cost of the project to more than $8 billion.

The companies’ decision to cancel the project came just two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court handed the project a significant victory by ruling a permit issued by the U.S. Forest Service to build the pipeline beneath a portion of the Appalachian Trail was valid.

At the time of that victory, the companies issued a press release saying with the Supreme Court’s ruling in hand, they looked forward to completing the project by 2022.

“For decades, more than 50 other pipelines have safely crossed the trail without disturbing its public use,” said ACP spokesperson Ann Nallo in a statement at the time. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be no different.”

‘Too Much Legal Uncertainty’

But with multiple permits outstanding and further legal actions underway and being threatened to block the project, delays and rising costs threatened the economic viability of the ACP, the companies said.

“Today we announced that we are no longer moving forward with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP),” said the companies’ July 5 statement. “This was a necessary decision given the legal uncertainties facing the project, and we deeply regret that we were unable to complete this project.

“While the need for new infrastructure in our region remains, there is too much legal uncertainty to continue moving forward with this project,” the statement said.

Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (hsburnett@heartland.org) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

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