Author Archives: Ellen Bouton

Court Denies Request to Reinstate NWP 12

On May 28, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request by the Army Corps of Engineers, Transcanada Keystone Pipeline, and other pipeline companies to reinstate Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP12). This means NWP 12 will remain invalid while the Ninth Circuit considers whether the Montana district court correctly ruled that the Corps violated the Endangered Species Act.

The District Court’s April 15 ruling came in a case challenging the NWP12 permit for the Keystone project and was extended to affect permits for other new oil and natural gas pipelines. The ruling impacts the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, neither of which currently have valid NWP12 permits. At this point, the Corps cannot authorize either the MVP or the ACP to use NWP12 unless and until the Ninth Circuit reverses the Montana district court’s determination that the Corps violated the Endangered Species Act.

Six Years and Counting!

From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update 278, May 28, 2020:

It was six years ago this week that Dominion Energy began contacting local officials in Virginia and West Virginia to advise them of the company’s plans to build a natural gas pipeline through their communities. Initially called the Southeast Reliability Project, the pipeline was to cost $4 billion and be operational by end of 2018. In September, the project was re-named the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Duke Energy was named as a partner. Also in September 2014, the organization of ABRA was announced.

In its briefings of county boards that summer, Dominion representatives stated:

  • The project would be the “energy equivalent of broadband infrastructure,” providing a “key driver in a community’s ability to attract economic development.”
  • It would promote price stability and enhance economic opportunity.
  • Substantial economic benefits including a substantial number of well-paying construction jobs and additional tax base in communities along the route” would be provided.
  • Dominion looks forward to working with affected landowners and communities “to ensure that we can optimize the balance of environmental stewardship and economic opportunity that is created” by the project.

As of May 2020:

  • The project, approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on October 13, 2017, is lacking 8 key permits, primarily as the result of lawsuits brought by ABRA members and allied organizations. The missing permits are those from the Forest Service, Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Air Pollution Control Board and needed permits from four Army Corps of Engineers Districts.
  • Construction on the project has remained suspended since December 2018, 17-months ago.
  • The estimated cost of the ACP is now $8 billion, twice the original estimate.
  • The ACP, if built, is not expected to be operational until 2022, 3-years later than planned.

The final chapter of this story has yet to be written. ABRA members and supporters can take satisfaction in the fact that they have had a major part in influencing the story so far.

Averitt Makes Case Against FERC


Richard Averitt making the case that the current FERC approach is unfair and destructive and must be changed. Click here for the video, made for Artivism’s SUN SiNG concert series.

Related news stories from the past few days:

Wild VA Film Festival – Online


Join Wild Virginia for music, environmental films, door prizes, and speakers. ALL ONLINE!! Launching on World Environment Day, the festival will be available to you for 48 hours. The first 100 people to sign up will be entered into a drawing for some special prizes and if you find the code word during the festival you will be eligible for another prize!

Sign up here!

Once you sign up, Wild Virginia will send you a password to watch the show.

The Future of LNG Exports Increasingly Looks Shaky

From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #277, May 22, 2020:

A recently released analysis of the future financial prospects for liquified natural gas (LNG) strongly suggests that markets are imploding. The LNG issue becomes relevant for those concerned about efforts to build new, unneeded natural gas pipelines because of excessive natural gas supplies and reduced domestic demand. The report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) notes:

  • High prices in prior years had spurred a torrent of new LNG projects around the globe. But that optimism sowed the seeds of the fuel’s current troubles, as massive new supplies of LNG, much of it coming from the U.S., flooded global markets even as demand growth remained muted. The resulting oversupply fueled a global price slump: even before COVID-19 decimated global energy demand, LNG prices were already plummeting to a ten-year low.
  • The LNG industry entered today’s crisis on shaky footing. And now that the economic slowdown is in full swing, all previous LNG supply and demand projections have been rendered moot, and all crystal balls remain cloudy. In that context, delay is a smart decision.

For the complete IEEFA report, click here.

Appeals Court Urged to Keep Freeze on Army Corps’ NWP 12 for Pipelines

From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #277, May 22, 2020:

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has been urged to uphold a Federal District Court in Montana’s ruling prohibiting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP12) program from issuing new permits for oil and natural gas pipelines. The District Court’s April 15 ruling came in a case challenging the NWP12 permit for the Keystone project and was extended to affect permits for other new oil and natural gas pipelines. The ruling impacts the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, neither of which currently have valid NWP12 permits.

In a May 20, 2020 brief filed with the Court, the Northern Plains Resource Council, a Montana-based conservation group, argued that Army Corps had failed to evaluate the cumulative impact on endangered species of all projects under the NWP12 and that the agency should have completed a programmatic review under the Endangered Species Act before reauthorizing the program for a five-year term beginning in 2017. The case is before the Ninth Circuit on appeal by the Army Corps and industry groups that are asking the Appeals Court to overturn the District Court’s freeze of the NWP12 program until the case is decided the issues. For a copy of the brief, click here.