The companies looking to build the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline have abandoned the $8 billion project, a stunning reversal that got this reaction out of a senior attorney for the Southern Environment Law Center: "Wow! Wow!" Dominion Energy and Duke Energy partnered on the 600-mile-long, 42-inch-wide natural gas pipeline that was to travel through Virginia, including crossing the Appalachian Trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains and two national forests, to connect West Virginia gas shale fields with markets in Virginia and North Carolina. Environmental groups including the SELC were none too happy with the plan, which has been the subject of legal battles for years (including one courtroom scene that involved a Dr. Seuss quote). The energy companies announced Sunday that after six years, the project was dead.
The pipeline was more than $3 billion over budget and more than three years behind schedule, and a nationwide federal water quality permit that the pipeline needed in order to cross the hundreds of bodies of water in its path was recently thrown out in federal court. The SELC and other activist groups had also gotten an appeals court to throw out other necessary federal and state permits, leading to what the Richmond Times-Dispatch refers to as a "regulatory dead end" for the project. USA Today notes that less than a month ago, the Supreme Court had handed the pipeline a big win, but there were many hurdles still to be crossed. The announcement of the project's abandonment "reflects the increasing legal uncertainty that overhangs large-scale energy and industrial infrastructure development in the United States," a statement from Dominion and Duke reads. "Until these issues are resolved, the ability to satisfy the country’s energy needs will be significantly challenged." (Read more gas pipelines stories.)