Atlantic Coast pipeline cancellation surprises West Virginia officials | News, Sports, Jobs

CHARLESTON — The companies behind the $8 billion Atlantic Coast pipeline project announced the project’s cancellation on Sunday, taking state leaders by surprise.

According to a statement from Dominion Energy and Duke Energy on Sunday afternoon, the proposed pipeline to move natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia to North Carolina has been canceled due to additional regulatory hurdles and conditions. uncertain market.

“A series of legal challenges to the project’s federal and state permits resulted in significant project cost increases and schedule delays,” reads the joint statement. “These lawsuits and rulings have sought to dramatically rewrite decades of legal authorizations and precedents, including as implemented by presidential administrations of both political parties.”

Last month, the US Supreme Court – in a 7-2 decision – overturned a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the US Forest Service had no authority to issue an easement right-of-way for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. plan to cross under part of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.

The pipeline would carry natural gas from Harrison County and four other West Virginia counties 600 miles through Virginia to North Carolina. The project, launched in 2014, has a price tag of $8 billion, an increase from the original price of $5 billion. In Dominion and Duke’s joint statement, they cite other federal court cases — including a Montana case that overturned federal permitting authorities for water and wetland crossings — that could also cause significant delays.

Thomas F. Farrell II, Chairman, President and CEO of Dominion Energy; and Lynn J. Good, President, President and CEO of Duke Energy, released a statement.

“We regret that we cannot complete the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” Farrell and Good said. “This announcement reflects the growing legal uncertainty surrounding the development of large-scale energy and industrial infrastructure in the United States. Until these problems are resolved, the ability to meet the country’s energy needs will be significantly tested.

Shale Crescent USA, a natural gas production advocacy group, expressed disappointment with the decision to scrap the Atlantic Coast pipeline project. Greg Kozera, spokesman for Shale Crescent, said the decision would be devastating for pipeline construction jobs.

“Unfortunately, when jobs are most needed, pipeline builders, their families and the businesses that support them will not return to work,” he added. said Kozera. “Before the antis celebrate too much, I suggest they visit a pipeline worker and his family to see the real damage done to real people. A few low-wage solar panel installer jobs won’t replace the pipeline and the manufacturing jobs that the pipeline would have brought.

The announcement took heads of state by surprise. State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey led an 18-state group last December in filing a friend of the court brief supporting the Atlantic Coast pipeline project.

“I am deeply disappointed with this decision to cancel construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” said Morrisy. “The concept of a district court judge crippling the construction of pipelines across our country is very disconcerting. My office will give this matter even greater consideration and continue our all-out fight for jobs in West Virginia. We should and must not. not give up fights like these.

The state’s congressional delegation weighed in on Sunday’s announcement. U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., called the cancellation a blow to the state’s energy sector and jobs.

“I am disappointed to learn that plans to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have been cancelled,” Manchin said in a statement. “Today’s announcement reminds us once again why it is extremely important that we work together to find a responsible balance between the environment and the economy. We must take action to modernize our nation’s energy policy by passing the bipartisan US Energy Innovation Act.

“The news that construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been canceled is terrible and will cost WV thousands of construction jobs,” Capito posted on Twitter. “Our country has experienced phenomenal growth in energy production over the past few years, which represents a huge opportunity for the economy of WV…WV is rich in energy, and we should facilitate the utilization of the energy resources produced right here at home to meet demand across the country.”

1st District Rep. David McKinley, RW.Va., echoed Manchin and Capito’s comments. Harrison County – the starting point of the project – is in the 1st Congressional District.

“Disappointed by the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline”, McKinley said in a statement late Sunday. “The pipeline would have created thousands of jobs for West Virginians and allowed us to transport energy sources safely and reliably. Activists on the ground have created challenges at every step of the process and caused the destruction of much of these much-needed jobs and tax revenues. West Virginia is energy rich and we should facilitate the production of energy sources in the country. »

Also announced Sunday, Dominion Energy is selling its natural gas transmission and storage assets to Berkshire Hathaway Energy in a $10 billion deal. Berkshire would also assume $6 billion of Dominion’s debt. Both companies expect the deal to be finalized by the end of 2020 once the deal overcomes regulatory hurdles.

The office of 2nd District Representative Alex Mooney, RW.Va. – whose district includes four of the counties where the pipeline would have passed, did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Governor Jim Justice said the governor will address the CPA cancellation today during his coronavirus briefing. A Sierra Club request for comment was not returned.

Steven Allen Adams can be contacted at [email protected]

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