Category Archives: Dominion

Dominion Buys Pipeline Support at Supreme Court

Dominion buys pipeline support at Supreme Court through GOP Attorneys General – that was the headline for an article posted by the Energy and Policy Institute on October 3, 2019, the day before the Supreme Court announced that it would hear the appeal of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Forest Service could not authorize the pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail. The article was reposted on DeSmog Blog on October 5, the day after the announcement.

The article points out that “Dominion Energy has received support in its case from Republican state Attorneys General and the US Department of Justice. Both US Attorney General William Barr and the state Attorneys General have close financial ties to the utility – including through a GOP group that funneled millions to one key proponent.”

Barr was on Dominion’s Board of Directors from 2009 until February 2019 when he resigned and was confirmed as US Attorney General. US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who reports to Barr, asked the SCOTUS to hear the appeal of the 4th Circuit ruling. Worth noting: “Between 2009 and 2018, Barr received $2.3 million from Dominion in cash and stock awards, according to a Forbes report based on SEC filings. Upon his resignation from the Board, he received 2,000 shares of common stock, as outlined in his Ethics Agreement, worth about $150,000 at Dominion’s stock price this past spring. Barr was supposed to divest that stock within three months, according to his Ethics Agreement. Barr has yet to recuse himself publicly from activities relating to the ACP Supreme Court appeal….”

In addition to the support from the US Attorney General, 16 State Attorneys General, backed by a Dominion-funded group, also supported Dominion’s appeal. “West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey led a group of 16 state attorneys general – all Republicans – in a filing this July urging the Supreme Court to take up the ACP appeal. The utility has given $60,725 to a key supporter of Morrisey and other signatories – the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) – since 2014, according to Dominion’s political spending disclosures.” RAGA poured $6.8 million into Morrisey’s 2016 re-election campaign, and RAGA or Dominion may have channeled additional resources to Morrisey through other intermediaries not legally required to disclose all donors or recipients.

Follow the money….

“Heads Must Be Exploding in the Board Rooms”

In an update posted on September 18, 2019, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) discusses low natural gas prices now and going forward. They say, “With the news from IHS Markit that natural gas prices in the United States will drop below $2 MMBtu in 2020 and remain low through at least 2024, if not longer, heads must be exploding in the board rooms of oil and gas producers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The profit picture is now imploding. The ramifications run deep, far and wide. The mantra that more pipelines will rationalize the market has been upended. This view from the oil and gas industry never made sense. As IHS Markit makes clear, new pipeline capacity contributes to an oversupply of natural gas forcing down prices and profits.”

The IEEFA update is based on a new forecast from IKS Markit, a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide. The update notes that:

  • New pipeline capacity contributes to an oversupply of natural gas forcing down prices and profits.
  • Smaller exploration and production companies, already suffering, are likely to continue to fail.
  • The oil and gas equipment and supply sector will worsen.
  • The global market remains oversupplied, with limited profit potential on the export side. Increased exports from the U.S. will deepen the oversupply.

In a September 18 article, OilPrice says, “While gas has become the primary source of electricity production, technological advancements are about to make fossil fuels more expensive and therefore uneconomic compared to renewables. The tipping point could come much sooner than certain utilities and investors are expecting, which could hit current investment plans for gas-fired power plants.”

Read the IHS Markit press release here, read the IEEFA update here, and read the OilPrice article here.

Despite the continuing predictions of the decreasing demand for fossil fuels and the explosive increase in both demand and capacity for renewables, Dominion continues its efforts to build the unnecessary Atlantic Coast Pipeline. On September 25, 2019, Maplight and the Huffington Post discussed “The $109 Million Lobbying Effort To Run A Pipeline Through National Treasures.”

Maplight says, “A trio of utility giants building a natural gas pipeline that would cut across the Appalachian Trail has spent more than $109 million lobbying federal lawmakers and officials since the $7.8 billion project was unveiled five years ago, according to a MapLight analysis. The controversial 600-mile-long project, which is being compared to the Dakota Access Pipeline because of its stiff opposition from Native and local communities, would bisect the fabled trail, as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway and a pair of national forests. Appeals courts have thrown out seven separate permits for the project, with sentiment running so high that one judge wrote an opinion using a quote from The Lorax to blast the U.S. Forest Service for its failure ‘to speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.’ Despite the setbacks, the utilities have continued to press their case, hoping the rulings can be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court or Congress.”

On other words, Dominion is pushing hard to build a pipeline that industry analysts say is well on its way to being both unneeded and outmoded.

Important Action Alert from Wild Virginia

An action alert from David Sligh, Wild Virginia’s Conservation Director:

We’ve just received word that a special deal may soon be attached to a bill in Congress to allow Dominion to change the rules in their favor so they can fast track the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. We need your help today to send a strong message to our elected representatives.  We need them to know to watch for tricks like this from Dominion and to be ready to vote in opposition to any legislation like this.

The time is NOW to contact your senators and representative in Congress today and urge them to oppose any legislation that makes way for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.   Don’t know your senators or representative? No problem!  Find out here.

Note: We don’t currently have a bill number or specific information about the measure that is circulating in Congress but don’t let that deter you from making the contacts. Time could be of the essence and you shouldn’t wait – it is important that our legislators be looking for these attempts whenever they arise and act quickly.

Background:
The proposed route for Dominion’s 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been a mess from the beginning. It carves through family farms, steep mountain ridges, and public water supplies, and it is slated to cross the Appalachian Trail on U.S. Forest Service land, a move that federal judges say is not legal. Rather than reconsider their poorly-planned project, Dominion is asking the U.S. Congress to change laws to make way for its unneeded gas pipeline.

We will oppose Dominion’s efforts and call on you to do the same – TODAY!  Tell your senators and your representative in Congress that you oppose legislation that would change the rules to make way for Dominion’s unneeded and destructive pipeline.

Thank you again for stepping up and taking action to protect the mountain streams, family farms, private property, water supplies, and Appalachian Trail.

Sincerely,

David Sligh 
Wild Virginia
Conservation Director

 

Useful Info Sheets from SELC

On August 28, 2019, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed an opposition brief in the US Supreme Court on August 28, 2019, arguing that the Court should not agree to review the Fourth Circuit opinion as requested by the petitioners, US Forest Service and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The Fourth Circuit decision blocked the ACP from coming across Reid’s Gap. (See SELC Files Opposition Brief)

SELC has created two fine handouts to inform people about Dominion’s actions and the ACP:

Print copies and circulate!

Witnesses Tell SCC Dominion Has Sufficient Pipeline Capacity

From the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance ABRA Update 239, August 1, 2019:

Two witnesses appearing before a July 30 Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) hearing on the proposed fuel factor for Dominion Energy to use in calculating future customer rates testified that the company has sufficient pipeline capacity to meet future energy demands.

Greg Lander, an energy consultant representing Appalachian Voices (an ABRA member), testified that Dominion “has sufficient pipeline capacity to serve its existing generation fleet. Further, because of the frequency, magnitude, and duration of the non-power plant deliveries under its existing pipeline contracts, I conclude that the Company has ample pipeline capacity to serve additional power generation load should that be necessary.” Mr. Lander’s analysis was echoed by Bernadette Johnson, a consultant retained by the SCC staff.

Mr. Lander’s filed testimony is available here. Ms. Johnson’s filed testimony is available here and here.

The SCC is expected to decide about Dominon’s fuel factor proposal in 2-3 weeks.

Dominion Responds to FERC Request on Pipe Coatings

On July 3, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requested that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC and Dominion Transmission, Inc. provide within 20 days toxicological environmental and health information on epoxy coatings associated with pipeline materials used in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. (see FERC Requests Toxicological Info on ACP Coatings)

On July 22, 2019, Dominion filed a response to FERC’s request – a two page covering letter, a two page response, and 315 pages of attachments, most of which are safety data sheets (SDS) from manufacturers.

In their covering letter, Dominion says the SDS information “is based on the products’ hazards before they are reacted and cured on the pipe. The warnings are based on the presence of substances at very low amounts in the powder or liquid prior to application and cure. According to the manufacturers, these substances are expected to be encapsulated in the polymer matrix when the coating is applied and fully cured onto the pipe and would be dispersed throughout the coating and not migrate onto the surface or leach out of the coating.” We note the careful wording: safety data sheets are based on hazards before they are cured on the pipe, and the substances “are expected to be encapsulated” when fully cured.  Nothing about hazards after coatings have been exposed to UV and to weather for 3-4 years.

Continuing, the letter discusses two different 3M coatings, and says, “Although 3M has no conclusive evidence at this time to confirm their exact identity, the degradation products are generated in low quantities, have low water solubility, and are therefore not expected to enter the environment in amounts capable of producing an adverse human health effect.” Again, note the language” “no conclusive evidence at this time to confirm their exact identity,” and “not expected to enter the environment.”

Dominion says they will be doing evaluation of “composition, toxicity, and potential for environmental exposure” of the primary 3M coating, and will submit results by August 23, 2019.