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6 Jul, 2020 02:30

‘Victory for environmental justice’: Activists rejoice after $8bn Atlantic Coast Pipeline NIXED amid long-running legal battle

‘Victory for environmental justice’: Activists rejoice after $8bn Atlantic Coast Pipeline NIXED amid long-running legal battle

The two energy companies behind the controversial 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline slated to run from West Virginia to North Carolina, said they are scrapping the project after it was on hold for years due to legal challenges.

In a joint statement on Sunday, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy announced they are pulling the plug on the project, which was first announced in 2014 and has faced fierce opposition from landowners and environmental activists, who claimed that the 600-mile (970km) pipeline would cause irreparable damage to the land and wildlife.

The developers, who argued that the pipeline would be a better option for the environment, since it was set to replace coal-fired power plants with “environmentally superior, lower cost natural gas-fired generation,” have been embroiled in a long-running legal war with those who did not want to settle for second best.

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Activists pointed out that the laying of the pipeline would involve mass removal of trees and damage to mountain slopes in its path, potentially increasing risks of landslides.

In addition, opponents of the development cast doubt on the notion that there is sufficient demand for the gas which the pipeline was set to transport. 

The developers said the last straw forcing them to abandon the project was the recent decision of a district court in Montana, “overturning long-standing federal permit authority for waterbody and wetland crossings.” The move was backed by an appellate court ruling in late May, “indicating an appeal is not likely to be successful.”

The companies said they believe the Montana court decision is bound to serve as a precedent, prompting more legal woes for the developers.

This new information and litigation risk, among other continuing execution risks, make the project too uncertain to justify investing more shareholder capital.

Constant legal wrangling almost doubled the cost of the mega-project from the original estimate of $4.5 billion to $5 billion, to $8 billion. It was already three and a half years behind schedule when it was ultimately cancelled on Sunday.

The announcement of the project’s demise sparked celebration among its opponents.

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“If anyone still had questions about whether or not the era of fracked gas was over, this should answer them,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said.

Today is a historic victory for clean water, the climate, public health, and our communities.

In a joint statement with Reverend William Barber II, former Vice President Al Gore, who has also been an outspoken opponent of the pipeline, denounced the now-defunct project as the embodiment of “the injustice of race, the injustice of ecological devastation, the injustice of poverty.”

“Today we see a victory for environmental justice,” he said.

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