On July 5, 2020, after six years of dedicated and powerful opposition, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy announced the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline! This is an amazing victory. It was achieved by working with numerous state and local groups, including Friends of Buckingham, Friends of Nelson, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Appalachian Voices, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, the SAVE Coalition, the Sierra Club, and many, many more — not to mention thousands of volunteers and community advocates who achieved such an amazing victory.
But construction for the Mountain Valley Pipeline continues, and we are committed to fighting it. Keep reading for more on MVP and stay tuned for updates!
Dominion Energy and its allies in the gas industry want to build up two huge new fracked-gas pipelines through the Blue Ridge and Appalachian regions of Virginia and West Virginia. As many as 19 new gas pipelines are proposed in the Appalachian basin. From fueling toxic fracking, to removing 38 miles of mountain ridgetops, to destroying people’s land, to leaking heat-trapping methane, these pipelines would harm our communities and our climate every step of the way.
CCAN is committed to working alongside Virginians on the front lines of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to stop the spread of fracked-gas pipelines. We are also legally intervening in the permit process to hold decision-makers allowing new pipelines in Virginia accountable.
From the mountains to the coast, Virginians and our regional allies are building a diverse and powerful movement:
- In July 2016, over 600 people marched to former governor Terry McAuliffe’s mansion in Richmond, calling on him to put people over new pipelines in Virginia — to stop cheerleading these projects and help our communities stop them.
- We delivered thousands of petitions to former governor Terry McAuliffe and current governor Ralph Northam. We gave hundreds of comments to pipeline regulators at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which reviews federal pipeline permit applications.
- In September, hundreds of Virginians protested at each of the seven DEQ offices in Virginia for two days straight, calling on the agency to reject the water permits.
- In December 2017, 700 people converged in Richmond for the “Water is Life” rally to call on Virginia leaders to protect our water by rejecting these pipelines.
- Thousands of people have turned out to air board and water board hearings to oppose permits for the dangerous projects. A petition of more than 6,000 signatures was delivered opposing the Air Board’s permit for a pipeline compressor station in Buckingham County.
Hundreds of people camped out by Miracle Ridge in Bath County, VA to lay witness to the destruction that the ACP would have on natural heritage should the pipeline be constructed. Ona, a 300-plus-year-old sugar maple, would be cut down to make way for the ACP.
Over 1,000 Virginians joined Dr Reverend William Barber and former Vice President Al Gore in denouncing environmental racism and injustice in Union Hill, the site of Dominion’s only compressor station for the ACP in Virginia.
Click here to learn more about how to take action resisting the Virginia pipelines with CCAN Action Fund.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline
At more than 600 miles long and almost four feet in diameter, Dominion’s proposed $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline would be the first pipeline of its size to cross the central Appalachian region, and one of the largest interstate natural gas pipelines in the country. The project would gut the heart of the largest remaining wild landscape in the eastern US to carry gas from West Virginia to North Carolina. This pipeline would also bring a massive, toxic compressor station to Union Hill, a historic African-American community in Buckingham County.
Furthermore, the pipeline would require between 10 to 60 feet of mountain ridgetops to be “reduced” along 38 miles of the proposed pipeline route in West Virginia and Virginia. With such a massive removal of rock and dirt, a question arises about where this “overburden” should be disposed of. And this is not a problem with a simple solution, as this is no small amount of material. The overburden from building on just two miles of ridgeline would fill a football field nearly 80 feet deep.
In the fall of 2014, when Governor McAuliffe stood with Dominion CEO Thomas Farrell III in support of the project, CCAN spoke out in opposition, immediately urging the governor to withdraw his support.
We are working with dozens of grassroots groups in Virginia, West Virginia, and across the region to stop this pipeline, including The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA), Friends of Nelson County, Friends of Buckingham County, Augusta County Alliance, Wild Virginia, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and others. These groups have been working for several years to educate residents about the proposed project. They have been organizing landowners and concerned citizens to hold politicians and regulators at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission accountable.
On September 18, 2015, Dominion filed for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permit needed to start construction of the pipeline. Dominion had hoped to receive a certificate for construction by 2016 and have the pipeline in service by 2018. But it has faced significant delays. As of June 2020, construction in Virginia has still not begun. The pipeline is still missing eight key permits.
In October 2015, the US Forest Service raised concerns about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s impact on the endangered Cow Knob Salamander. A few weeks later, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission expressed concerns about the environmental impact of the route as proposed, and required the Pipeline project to submit an alternate, more southern route. Dominion & Atlantic Coast Pipeline responded in February 2016 by rerouting the pipeline, adding an additional 30 miles of route and bringing dozens of new homeowners in Bath and Nelson Counties into the fight. Two months later, the company submitted a 7,000+ page filing in response to environmental concerns raised about the project, claiming to have “resolved the important environmental issues that have been raised.”
In November 2018, two members of the Air Pollution Control Board raised concerns about environmental injustice and racism ahead of a vote the ACP’s compressor station in Union Hill. One week later, Ralph Northam dismissed these members of the board ahead of the vote in what was widely seen as an unethical use of power to ensure that the pipeline received its permit. In January, the Air Board — down to just 4 voting members — voted to approve the permit.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline
EQT and NextEra’s proposed 300-mile, $6 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline would require three new compressor stations facilities that keep the gas pressurized as it travels, subjecting communities to air pollution, groundwater contamination, unsafe noise levels, lowered property values and onsite accidents. Additionally, the timeline keeps being extended, which goes to show that the pipeline isn’t truly needed, and only increases the cost. The builders claim that 92% of the pipeline is completed, but in reality, it’s only 51% completed, with much work to be done in the most dangerous, but also most beautiful and pristine terrain. This is the most expensive pipeline ever on a cost-per-mile basis.
Currently, eight out of the ten major banks are invested in this pipeline. Con Edison Transmission, a major investor in the pipeline, has capped its backing of the project at 10% of the total cost, reason being that it does not see much of a future in natural gas ventures. We must put pressure on investors and shareholders of these companies to encourage them to pull their funding, because clearly they know this pipeline is not a great investment.
Former Governor McAuliffe quietly indicated his support for this project, calling it part of Virginia’s “world-class energy infrastructure.”
A growing coalition of grassroots groups are working to oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline, including the regional coalition Preserve Our Water, Heritage, and Rights (POWHR). CCAN has been supporting opponents of the pipeline in organizing music festivals and rallies to bring attention to the issue and raise the funds to keep fighting this dirty and dangerous project, and worked with groups to bring landowners, farmers and others living along the route of this pipeline to open houses and scoping meetings.
FERC released its flawed Environmental Impact Statement for the MVP in June of 2017, which was roundly criticized by citizens, advocacy groups, and government agencies alike. This happened after tens of thousands of U.S. citizens submitted comments demanding that FERC do a thorough, accurate and unbiased review of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, and ultimately reject the project. Almost every relevant federal government agency also expressed deep concerns and criticisms of the draft review, including the Department of Interior, National Parks Service, and Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality — and both the Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency questioned whether the project is even necessary. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality also denied a pipeline extension, called Southgate, which would have been 75 additional miles of pipeline, costing $500 million.
CCAN is continuing to build grassroots opposition and a robust legal case. Since construction began along the MVP in 2018, everyday citizens have participated in bold and courageous actions to raise awareness of the injustice of the MVP. Chief among these have been a number of tree sits, where property owners and allies have literally refused to leave trees along the MVP’s path to slow the encroachment onto private lands. They have been ordered down from their trees, though, and as of late 2020, face $500/day penalties for their activism.
While public comment is now closed, there is good news on the legal front. There was a stay granted regarding water crossings, meaning that the pipeline can no longer cross over hundreds of different streams throughout Virginia. There was also a temporary stay granted for a biological opinion (BiOp) surrounding the project, but there is still hope regarding a permanent stay.
In December 2018, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that he was bringing a suit against the MVP for over 300 egregious water quality violations that had been documented by everyday citizens. As a result, the Virginia State Water Control Board voted to consider revoking the water quality permit for the MVP. Meanwhile, the MVP continues to construct as fast as possible with more violations being documented on a near-daily basis.
The Header Injustice Project
Southern Company subsidiary Virginia Natural Gas is proposing what it’s calling the “Header Improvement Project.” But we’re calling it the “Header Injustice Project”: The proposal is for three new gas pipelines, totaling 24 miles, and three new or expanded gas compressor stations from Northern Virginia, through the middle of the state, and to the shore in Hampton Roads. VNG wants this network of fracked gas infrastructure to be up & running by the end of 2022. Learn more here.
Virginia Needs Wind and Solar Solutions – Not Dirty and Dangerous Pipelines
Contrary to industry claims, Virginia doesn’t need these pipelines. In fact, much of the gas is likely to flow through Virginia rather than power the state. Virginia can build a better economy by investing in solar and wind power and creating more clean energy, permanent jobs and a stable climate without jeopardizing our homes, health and heritage for new pipelines.
For the over $5 billion that Dominion is proposing to spend on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a Chesapeake Climate Action Network Analysis found that we could:
- Install enough solar panels to power nearly 400,000 Virginia homes.1
- Reduce carbon emissions at a rate equal to taking 600,0002 cars off the road.
- Installing and maintaining this solar industry would create 2,500 temporary construction jobs and support 216 permanent jobs annually,3 plus additional jobs due to lower energy prices over time, and improved health outcomes of workers across the state. By comparison, the Dominion commissioned Chmura analytical economy report predicted that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would support 1462 short term jobs and 118 jobs annually.4
Since we released our analysis, Dominion has upped its cost estimate to $8 billion.
The Stakes for Our Communities and Our Climate Are High
Climate: Building new pipelines would incentivize more fracking across Virginia and surrounding areas, and more fracking means more emissions of methane, a powerful heat-trapping gas. The pipelines would also trigger direct emissions of carbon dioxide from compressor station engines and diesel fuel equipment, and leak methane emissions. According to growing scientific data, fracked gas could disrupt the climate on par with coal, when factoring in the full cycle of emissions from extraction to piping to and burning. With rising seas already flooding Virginia’s coastal communities, this is a risk we can’t afford to take.
Public Safety: A pipeline “blowout” near Appomattox, Virginia in 2008 created a fireball reported to be ¼ mile high, injured five residents (including three who suffered second and third degree burns), destroyed two houses and damaged 95 more.5
Property Values: The Forensic Appraisal Group LTD found that the negative impact of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on property values could be “up to 30% or more” and that the presence of a 42 inch, high pressure natural gas pipeline could lead to insurance and mortgage issues.6
Water Quality: Run-off and sedimentation during construction, as well as chemical additives used to keep rights of way clear can impact local surface waters, and chemicals could potentially leak into groundwater.
Iconic Mountains and Forests: The current proposed routes for these projects take them through some of the most beautiful land in Virginia, including the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Monongahela National Forest, the Appalachian Trail and the George Washington National Forest, permanently scarring landscapes and destroying critical habitat.
Winning at the courts?
Since the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline were approved, we’ve been fighting these pipelines at every opportunity we can. In decision after decision, courts have been rightfully throwing out key permits that were forced through without taking stock of the scope of destruction. As a result, the pipeline companies have delayed their construction and increased costs. ACP costs have increased from $5 to $8 billion. MVP costs have increased from $3 billion to $6 billion. Fracked-gas pipelines are looking more unviable in Virginia every day. Read more here.
Join the Movement: No New Pipelines!
The good news is that we are NOT powerless to stop new pipelines in Virginia. Dominion and the other companies behind these projects need permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and state regulators before they can move forward.. A groundswell of resistance to these projects is spreading across Virginia and the region.
We won’t stand by as Dominion and their allies destroy our neighbors’ dreams and dig us into a deeper hole on climate change.
We need our leaders to stop these dangerous new pipelines and instead stand with us to bring clean energy solutions to Virginia.
Pledge to Resist the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. Click here to pledge to serious, dignified, peaceful civil disobedience that could get you arrested, or pledge support to those who do, to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline for fracked gas.
Want to get more involved? Contact Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director at email@example.com.
- “Protestors March Against Fracked-Gas Pipelines,” Community Idea Stations, 5/17/19
- “Environmental groups attack federal approval of Mountain Valley Pipeline,” Roanoke Times, 1/28/19
- “Amid protests, state board approves compressor permit for Dominon’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” WTVR, 1/8/19
- “ACP will disproportionately affect minority population,” Richmond Times Dispatch, 12/31/18
- “Pipelines repeatedly cited by state regulators for environmental issues,” Charleston Gazette-Mail, 11/8/18
- “4th Circuit orders temporary halt to Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” Charleston Gazette-Mail, 11/7/18
- “More Mountain Valley gas line permits suspended,” Argus Media, 10/23/18
- “A threatened mountain forest in Bath County becomes classroom camp in pipeline fight.” Richmond Times Dispatch, 7/1/18
- “10 Reasons to Stop Mtn. Valley & Atlantic Coast Pipelines,” NRDC blog, 10/23/17
- “Federal court remands Mountain Valley Pipeline water quality permit to West Virginia agency,” Utility Dive, 10/18/17
- “US regulators OK Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley pipelines,” Washington Post, 10/13/17
- “Nineteen protesters issued summonses after anti-pipeline demonstration outside Virginia DEQ main office,” Richmond Times Dispatch, 9/14/17
- “Pipeline foes gather near DEQ’s regional office in Roanoke for prayers, protest,” Roanoke Times, 9/13/17
- “State, feds call for improved pipeline environmental impact statement,” Roanoke Times, 12/23/16
- “Tens of thousands demand an accurate review of Mountain Valley pipeline,” CCAN blog, 12/22/16
- “23 citizens were arrested at Gov. McAuliffe’s mansion – here’s why,” CCAN blog, 10/7/16
- “600 Virginians ‘March on the Mansion’ to Tell Gov. McAuliffe: Put People Over Polluters on Pipelines, Coal Ash, and Climate Action,” CCAN blog, 7/23/16.
- “CCAN Joins Challenge to WB XPress Fracked Gas Pipeline Project,” CCAN blog, 2/4/16.
- “Mountain Valley Pipeline’s economic benefits study flawed, opponents say,” The Roanoke Times. 10/6/15.
- Click here to read a factsheet about the permits the ACP still lacks. June 2020
- CCAN Factsheet: No New Pipelines. February 2019
- Drilling Towards Disaster: Why U.S. Oil and Gas Expansion Is Incompatible with Climate Limits. January 2019
- Art of the Self-Deal: How Regulatory Failure Lets Gas Pipeline Companies Fabricate Need and Fleece Ratepayers. September 2017
- Fact Sheet: Atlantic Coast Pipeline Would Trigger Extensive Ridgetop Removal. April 2017
- Fact Sheet: Virginia Governor Had the Opportunity to Protect Virginia Water Resources From Fracked-Gas Pipelines. October 2016
- Poll: Virginia Voters Oppose Governor McAuliffe on Fracked-Gas Pipelines. September 2016
- Infographic: Clean Energy vs. The Mountain Valley Pipeline. November 2015
- Clean Energy vs. Dominion’s Pipeline: What do we get for $5 billion?CCAN Blog and Infographic. October 2015
1. U.S. Energy Information Administration. “2013 Average Monthly Bill- Residential.” 2014, <http://www.eia.gov/electricity/sales_revenue_price/pdf/table5_a.pdf> Based on capital costs assumptions, and a median 20.3% capacity factor, we assume a solar output of 5,631,220 megawatt-hours. The average monthly electricity usage in Virginia is 1,156 kilowatt-hours
2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “GHG Equivalencies Calculator – Calculations and References.” N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www2.epa.gov/energy/ghg-equivalencies-calculator-calculations-and-references#vehicles>
3. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “About JEDI Photovoltaics Model.” N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2015. <http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/jedi/about_jedi_pv.html>. Calculated using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Jobs and Economic Development Indicator (JEDI) “Scenario_PV_Model_rel._PVS3.24.14”
4.The Economic Impact of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Chmura Economics and Analytics for Dominion Resources, 2014.
5. “What a Pipeline Breach Looks Like.” The Cost of the Pipeline. N.p. 18 Aug 2015. Web. 2 Oct 2015. <http://thecostofthepipeline.com/2015/08/18/what-a-pipeline-breach-looks-like/>.
6. Stanton, Elizabeth W., et al. Atlantic Coast Pipeline Benefits Review: Chmura and ICF Economic Benefits Reports. Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. for Southern Environmental Law Center, 2015.