The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been scrapped after years of legal challenges and construction delays.
The projectâ€™s developers, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, announced the pipelineâ€™s cancellation in a joint statement on Sunday, citing â€œincreasing legal uncertaintyâ€ â€”Â less than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court approved a critical permit that West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice celebrated as an â€œexcitingâ€ victory.
â€œThis announcement reflects the increasing legal uncertainty that overhangs large-scale energy and industrial infrastructure development in the United States,â€ Dominion CEO Tom Farrell and Duke CEO Lynn Good said in the statement. â€œUntil these issues are resolved, the ability to satisfy the countryâ€™s energy needs will be significantly challenged.â€
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W, the ranking member of theÂ Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,Â expressed disappointment in the project’s cancellation in a statement, calling it “yet another reminder of why it is critically important we work together to find a responsible balance between the environment and economy.”
The 600-mile natural gas project had faced opposition since its 2014 introduction from environmental advocates, landowners and activists who argued that the pipeline would scar pristine landscapes while also questioning its necessity.
The proposed $8 billion pipeline, which would have crossed under the Appalachian Trail and carried natural gas from West Virginia into North Carolina and Virginia, had been touted by supporters as a boost to economic development.
â€œThis is a victory for all the communities that were in the path of this risky and unnecessary project. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline was wrong from the start,â€ said Greg Buppert, senior attorney for the Virginia-based Southern Environmental Law Center, which represented more than a dozen conservation organizations who stood against the project, including the Sierra Club.
Virginia Democratic DelegateÂ Elizabeth Guzman credited “the voices of everyday people and grassroots organization” for driving the energy companies into submission.
â€œDo not discount the magic of activism,” said Guzman,Â co-founder of theÂ Virginia Green New Deal Coalition, whose mission is to create sustainable jobs while addressing climate change and restoring the state’s economy, according to its website.
In his statement, Manchin contended that project developers took “meaningful steps” to ensure environmental protection and lamented the loss of “good paying construction and manufacturing jobs for hard working West Virginians.”
The pipelineâ€™s demise appeared unlikely last month after the Supreme Court, in a 7-2 vote, sided with the energy companies and reversed a lower court ruling that had thrown out the projectâ€™s permit. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.
Justice thanked the Supreme Court for â€œdoing the right thingâ€ in a celebratory press release.
â€œThis was absolutely the correct decision and itâ€™s exciting beyond belief because it means weâ€™ll be able to bring in thousands of jobs and countless opportunities for our hard-working West Virginians,â€ Justice said. â€œNot to mention, the multiplier effect that the increase in natural gas production will give our entire state is off the charts.â€
A spokeswoman for the project called the Supreme Courtâ€™s decision an â€œaffirmation for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and communities across our region that are depending on it for jobs, economic growth and clean energy” and that they â€œlook forward to resolving the remaining project permits.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
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