BREAKING: Duke, Dominion cancel $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline

In 2016, protesters in Robeson County demonstrated against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline because it would have crossed tribal lands and disproportionately burdened communities of color. (Photo: Lisa Sorg)

This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.

Duke Energy and Dominion Energy announced Sunday that they are cancelling the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile natural gas project that has been in the works for six years.

The utilities cited “ongoing delays and increasing cost uncertainty which threaten the economic viability of the project.”

The project would have started at a fracked gas operation in West Virginia and routed through Virginia before traversing 160 miles in eastern North Carolina, including many communities of color, tribal lands and low-income neighborhoods.

Relentless legal challenges increased the project cost 100%, from $4 billion to $8 billion.

The announcement was unexpected because the utilities had just won a key decision before the US Supreme Court. In a 7-2 ruling, the court ruled the pipeline could burrow beneath part of the Appalachian Trail.

Nonetheless, “recent developments have created an unacceptable layer of uncertainty and anticipated delays for ACP.”

Specifically, the utilities said the decision of the US District Court for the District of Montana to overturn a long-standing federal permit authority for waterbody and wetland crossings, followed by a Ninth Circuit ruling on May 28 indicating an appeal is not likely to be successful, “are new and serious challenges.”

The utilities had recently asked FERC — the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — for an extension, to 2022, to finish the project. Originally, Duke and Dominion had projected the pipeline would be operating in 2019.

In North Carolina, communities along the route, as well as environmental advocates, organized to consistently fight the pipeline, with rallies, letter-writing campaigns and litigation.

Thomas F. Farrell, II, Dominion Energy chairman, president, and chief executive officer, and Lynn J. Good, Duke Energy chair, president, and chief executive officer, issued a joint statement, that reads in part:

“We regret that we will be unable to complete the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. For almost six years we have worked diligently and invested billions of dollars to complete the project and deliver the much-needed infrastructure to our customers and communities.

Throughout we have engaged extensively with and incorporated feedback from local communities, labor and industrial leaders, government and permitting agencies, environmental interests and social justice organizations.

We express sincere appreciation for the tireless efforts and important contributions made by all who were involved in this essential project. This announcement reflects the increasing legal uncertainty that overhangs large-scale energy and industrial infrastructure development in the United States. Until these issues are resolved, the ability to satisfy the country’s energy needs will be significantly challenged.”

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