Dominion Energy ditches its Atlantic Coast Pipeline, climate activists celebrate

Virginia

“We’re really seeing the end of the fossil fuel industry.”

(WDVM) — After six years of protests against it, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy have scratched the construction of their Atlantic Coast Pipeline. 

Dominion Energy says the cancelation comes after increased costs and delays, despite the Supreme Court’s support for the project last month. The U.S. Court of Appeals, however, ruled that the project did not consider the pipeline’s effect on streams and wetlands, and denied its authority to use Nationwide Permit 12, which would allow them to construct the pipeline through such waterways. Since Dominion and Duke would have to appeal this ruling in court, the estimated project cost increased by millions of dollars. 

The Chesapeake Climate Network has been fighting the pipeline since the beginning. Dominion Energy said the pipeline would employ thousands of Virginians and West Virginians, but the Chesapeake Climate Network’s Virginia Director Harrison Wallace says those jobs were unsustainable. Many of the protesters also claimed the project was environmentally racist: the pipeline (and harmful fossil fuel infrastructure) was slated to run through rural and suburban Black and Latinx communities. 

In Buckingham County, for example, Wallace says a 54,000 horsepower compressor station was set to be placed on a former plantation, a couple miles away from descendants of freed slaves. “Symbolism and just outright racism were within that decision,” Wallace said. 

“On a large scale it affects everyone because of our climate but on a small scale it probably affects someone your neighbor knows very directly,” Wallace said. “We’re really seeing the end of the fossil fuel industry.”

Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe was an outspoken supporter of the project. “In Virginia we’re seeing a bipartisan wave of people who are refusing to take money from fossil fuel companies, actively suing them for the damage they’ve done to our climate, and now we’re seeing regulators just not allowing them to just bulldoze over communities to build things we don’t need,” said Wallace.  

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