In the News

January 2020

1-27-20 Virginia Mercury. As schools look to solar, existing state law shuts down further development. “Since 2013, Virginia has run a pilot program allowing customers to use a financing mechanism known as the power purchase agreement, or PPA, with non-utility solar developers. Under a PPA, a developer installs solar panels on customers’ property and then sells the electricity back to them, usually for less than the utility would. ‘PPAs are in a lot of ways a great equalizer,’ said Rob Corradi, public affairs adviser for Sun Tribe Solar, one of Virginia’s most active developers in the PPA market and the company behind Middlesex’s solar. They ‘allow school systems and governments that don’t have access to a lot of capital to be able to access solar at a low cost.’ In Virginia, however, the pilot program came with a major string attached: a 50-megawatt cap on projects in the territory of Dominion Energy, the state’s largest electric utility. Once the State Corporation Commission was notified the program had reached that scale, the process would grind to a halt. Unless they were already in the pipeline, no more projects could be developed.”

1-26-20 Charleston Gazette-Mail. Recovery plan proposed for endangered bumble bee involved in pipeline litigation. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a draft of a $13.4 million recovery plan designed to secure a stable population of an imperiled bumblebee species that played a key role in a federal appeals court decision that brought construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to a halt 13 months ago. …. The draft recovery plan for the rusty patched bumblebee includes improving the quality and quantity of habitat near established colonies, improving connectivity between colonies and reintroducing the bumblebees to now-unoccupied sites within the insect’s former range. In order for the population to recover enough to be removed from Endangered Species Act protection by 2059, 159 populations — just over 10 percent of the pre-decline number of populations — would have to be maintained in five conservation zones.

1-23-20 New York Times. ‘Environmental Justice Is Not Merely a Box to Be Checked’ “While Union Hill may represent the remarkable history of resilience from our country’s unjust beginnings, it also reveals the country’s continuing imbalance of power and the decisions about whose histories we choose to honor. …. In a win for our client Friends of Buckingham, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit this month threw out the permit for the compressor station, finding that the state failed to adequately consider the potential health effects on Union Hill’s African-American community. As the court noted, ‘Environmental justice is not merely a box to be checked.'”

1-22-20 New York Times. Trump Removes Pollution Controls on Streams and Wetlands. “The Trump administration on Thursday finalized a rule to strip away environmental protections for streams, wetlands and groundwater, handing a victory to farmers, fossil fuel producers and real estate developers who said Obama-era rules had shackled them with onerous and unnecessary burdens.”

1-22-20  Press Release: Prominent Park Advocates and Leaders Take Battle Over Atlantic Coast Pipeline to the Supreme Court. “Today, the National Parks Conservation Association joined the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks and prominent park advocates Jon Jarvis, former director of the National Park Service, and Pam Underhill, former Superintendent of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, in filing a joint amicus brief supporting conservation respondents in U.S. Forest Service, et al. v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et al. All amici curiae listed above are represented by counsel from Eubanks & Associates, LLC.”

1-22-20 Blue Virginia. In Brief Before U.S. Supreme Court, AG Mark Herring Highlights Deficiencies of Federal Pipeline Permit. “Attorney General Mark R. Herring today filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending Virginia’s natural resources from damage caused by shoddy and insufficient federal permitting processes. Attorney General Herring’s brief highlights a near complete failure of the U.S. Forest Service to meet its obligations under federal law and regulations, explaining that ‘for Virginia’s natural resources to be adequately protected, federal agencies charged with administering federal lands within its borders must fulfill their statutory obligations. The Forest Service did not do so here, to the detriment of Virginians and others who enjoy the natural treasures in the pipeline’s path.'”

1-22-20 NRDC. A Walk in the Woods: Pipelines and the Appalachian Trail. “You may know the Appalachian Trail from Bill Bryson’s book A Walk in the Woods and the movie NRDC Trustee Robert Redford made about it. Or you may have walked pieces of it. About 3 million people hike at least some part of the Trail every year—snapping photos, writing blogs, and making memories. A unit of the National Park System, the Appalachian Trail crosses federal, state and private land as it winds its way over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine. Nearly fifty years ago, Congress amended the Mineral Leasing Act to shield federal Park System lands from fossil fuel development. Despite this, in an unprecedented move, the developers of the beleaguered Atlantic Coast Pipeline want to cut through the Appalachian Trail on federal land. Today, the Natural Resources Defense Council filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court explaining why this gas pipeline’s proposed route is unlawful.”

1-21-20 Rolling Stone. America’s Radioactive Secret. “Oil-and-gas wells produce nearly a trillion gallons of toxic waste a year. An investigation shows how it could be making workers sick and contaminating communities across America. …. Oil fields across the country — from the Bakken in North Dakota to the Permian in Texas — have been found to produce brine that is highly radioactive. ‘All oil-field workers,’ says Fairlie, ‘are radiation workers.’ But they don’t necessarily know it. …. In an investigation involving hundreds of interviews with scientists, environmentalists, regulators, and workers, Rolling Stone found a sweeping arc of contamination — oil-and-gas waste spilled, spread, and dumped across America, posing under-studied risks to the environment, the public, and especially the industry’s own employees. There is little public awareness of this enormous waste stream, the disposal of which could present dangers at every step — from being transported along America’s highways in unmarked trucks; handled by workers who are often misinformed and underprotected; leaked into waterways; and stored in dumps that are not equipped to contain the toxicity. Brine has even been used in commercial products sold at hardware stores and is spread on local roads as a de-icer. ‘Essentially what you are doing is taking an underground radioactive reservoir and bringing it to the surface where it can interact with people and the environment,’ says Marco Kaltofen, a nuclear-forensics scientist at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. ‘Us bringing this stuff to the surface is like letting out the devil,’ says Fairlie. ‘It is just madness.'”

1-19-20 Yahoo Finance. America Is Awash With Natural Gas and It’s About to Get Worse. “Prices briefly dipped below $2 per million British thermal unit on Friday for the first time since 2016. At that level, U.S. producers simply don’t make money. It’s forcing a wave of multibillion-dollar writedowns, layoffs and spending cuts. Still, the industry is powerless to stop a wave of additional gas hitting the market as a byproduct of rising shale oil output in places like the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico. Even exports of liquefied natural gas provide little relief, as the international market is also oversupplied. ‘The industry is a victim of its own success,’ said Devin McDermott, an analyst at Morgan Stanley. ‘You don’t just have oversupply in the U.S. — you have oversupply in Europe, oversupply in Asia, and really oversupply across the globe.’ Gas prices have been in the doldrums for a while. The Henry Hub benchmark, named after a key Louisiana pipeline facility, has dropped for three years straight. This winter is proving to be unusually warm and inventory levels are above their seasonal average. Futures prices show traders aren’t expecting gas prices to rise above $2.60 even in the coldest months, when demand typically peaks.”

1-17-20 National Law Review. D.C. Circuit En Banc Review of FERC Tolling Orders Could Have Profound Implications for Infrastructure Projects Requiring FERC Approval. “On March 20, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (DC Circuit), sitting en banc, will hear arguments challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) use of ‘tolling orders.’ Because FERC routinely uses tolling orders across all areas of its responsibility, the Court’s actions could have profound, and potentially extremely negative, implications for any FERC-regulated industry. In particular, a decision forcing FERC to curtail its use of tolling orders could create new legal risks and barriers for natural gas and oil pipelines, electric transmission lines, and other energy infrastructure requiring FERC approval.”

1-17-20 WV News. Environmental group calls for formal stop to already halted ACP construction. “Environmental advocates are again calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to formally stop construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. Dominion voluntarily halted all major construction activities on the pipeline in December 2018 following a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that denied a permit issued by the Forest Service allowing the pipeline’s route to go through two national forests and under the Appalachian Trail. However, the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represents a coalition of environmental groups, has sent a letter to FERC asking for an order that would prevent the resumption of construction in light of a separate ruling from the Fourth Circuit on Jan. 7. …. Citing the court’s decision, [SELC’s Greg] Buppert wrote that allowing construction to continue would ‘violate the condition of the Commission’s certificate of public convenience and necessity’ that requires the ACP to obtain all applicable authorizations required under federal law before commencing construction. ‘The Commission cannot merely rely on Atlantic’s temporary work stoppage to address this issue,’ he wrote. ‘It should issue a stop-work order.'”

1-16-20 Blue Virginia. Clean Virginia Chronicles the “Dominion Scam”: $2 Billion in Overcharges by Dominion Energy in the Past Decade. “As Dominion Energy lobbyists were hard at work this week in Virginia’s General Assembly, advocacy organization Clean Virginia released a groundbreaking new report detailing how the monopoly overcharged its Virginia customers by at least $2.3 billion in the past decade. ‘The Dominion Scam: How a Utility Monopoly Overcharged Virginians $2 Billion (And Got Away with It)‘ describes how Virginia’s dominant utility monopoly worked with allies in the General Assembly to pass a series of utility-friendly laws that allowed the company to overcharge Virginians by hundreds of millions of dollars each year beyond its authorized profit level.”

1-15-20 Energy News Network. In Virginia, anti-pipeline activists feel ‘justice was served’ with court ruling. “What retiree Ella Rose describes as her “most wonderful birthday present ever” was belated by four-plus weeks. But it was so worth the wait. A federal appeals court decision Jan. 7 to toss out a state permit for construction of a natural gas pipeline compressor station roughly one-third of a mile from her home was announced exactly one month after the activist’s 76th birthday. ‘I am so happy and elated and surprised,’ she said, recalling the phone call she received last week from Chad Oba, co-founder and president of the Friends of Buckingham. ‘We were screaming in each other’s ears and I was the happiest person in the world. I’m still over the moon and I can’t come down.’ …. The momentous decision by a three-judge panel from the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is potentially a huge setback for Dominion Energy’s pipeline and a gargantuan gain for environmental justice in a state where that topic is only recently being broached.”

1-14-20 Blue Virginia. Both this session’s big energy omnibus bills could be better. “Climate and energy activists have been pinning their hopes on the 2020 legislative session to produce a framework for transitioning our economy to 100 percent carbon-free energy. After years of talking big but delivering little in the way of carbon reductions and clean energy, the General Assembly is under pressure to finally deliver. Much of the initial focus and discussion so far has been on two very different omnibus bills, the Clean Economy Act and the Green New Deal Act. …. [L]et’s take a look at the two omnibus bills that have energized so many activists. Both have their strong points; both would benefit from strengthening amendments.”

1-14-20 U.S. Gas Giant Downgraded To Junk Status. “The largest natural gas driller in the United States just announced a massive write-down for its assets, offering more evidence that the shale sector faces fundamental problems with profitability. In a regulatory filing on Monday, Pittsburgh-based EQT took a $1.8 billion impairment for the fourth quarter, as the natural gas market continues to sour. EQT said that the write down comes as a result of the ‘changes to our development strategy and renewed focus on a refined core operating footprint,’ which is a jargon-y way of saying that some of its assets are now worth much less. [EQT is the principal in the Mountain Valley Pipeline]

1-14-19 New York Times. BlackRock C.E.O. Larry Fink: Climate Crisis Will Reshape Finance. “Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of BlackRock, announced Tuesday that his firm would make investment decisions with environmental sustainability as a core goal. BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager with nearly $7 trillion in investments, and this move will fundamentally shift its investing policy — and could reshape how corporate America does business and put pressure on other large money managers to follow suit. Mr. Fink’s annual letter to the chief executives of the world’s largest companies is closely watched, and in the 2020 edition he said BlackRock would begin to exit certain investments that ‘present a high sustainability-related risk,’ such as those in coal producers. His intent is to encourage every company, not just energy firms, to rethink their carbon footprints.”

1-13-19 Bloomberg Environment. Time to Overturn Precedent on FERC Orders, Landowners Tell Court. “Federal judges should seize an opportunity to reverse a ‘fundamentally flawed’ precedent that keeps pipeline opponents out of court until it’s too late to halt a project, lawyers for landowners and environmentalists said in new court filings. ‘The United States Constitution and federal common law guarantee property owners a meaningful opportunity to be heard in opposition to a faulty public use determination before their property can be permanently taken,’ the Jan. 10 brief says, referring to a stretch of the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline in Pennsylvania. …. If landowners, environmentalists, or others want to challenge a FERC permit, they must first file a petition with the commission and wait for it to be resolved before pursuing a lawsuit. The Natural Gas Act gives FERC 30 days to take action on a challenge, but the agency routinely issues ‘tolling orders,’ which indefinitely extend the deadline for resolving the petition. FERC litigants have long criticized tolling orders as unfair and unconstitutional. Challengers often can’t get to court to challenge a project before construction has begun—or sometimes finished.”

1-13-20 Virginia Mercury. General Assembly will decide whether to build environmental justice into Virginia law. “Two years after Virginia established its first formal advisory body on environmental justice, legislators will weigh several bills proposing to weave the principle into the daily workings of state governance. ‘Environmental justice isn’t just theoretical. It actually happens all the time,’ said Del. Mark Keam, D-Fairfax, who has put forward one bill making an advisory council on the issue permanent and directing all state agencies to develop policies to promote consideration of environmental justice in their regular operations. Case in point to the delegate: the State Air Pollution Control Board’s January 2019 issuance of a permit to build a controversial natural gas compressor station in the historic freedmen’s community of Union Hill in Buckingham County. That decision was struck down by a federal court Tuesday partly on environmental justice grounds. ‘Clearly with the 4th Circuit decision we now know the state has to do a better job with environmental justice,’ said Keam.”

1-9-20 Virginia Mercury. DEQ’s failure on compressor station review is another sign new leadership is needed. “The air board is made up of citizens appointed by the governor who work without pay to promote transparency via public debates and votes and to broaden the base of regulatory decision making. Those board members rely on DEQ’s staff and leaders to provide them with both a wide range of regulatory alternatives and also with insightful, complete analyses. Clearly, DEQ failed the board on both counts. I wish I could say I was surprised. In 2008, when I was on the air board, two fellow board members suggested that the 1987 board statement on site suitability should be revised, to clarify the board’s powers with respect to site suitability. The board members’ ideas were rebuffed by senior officials in the administration of then-Gov. Tim Kaine, including DEQ managers. …. The air board must assert its right to have the full picture on best technologies. Since the 4th Circuit has now decided that the board’s legal obligation includes formally assessing the environmental justice implications of its decisions, the board must revise and take public comment on its 33-year-old site suitability policy, before making any other permit decisions. And finally: It is long past time for new management at DEQ. The dedicated staff at DEQ deserve to be led by someone who will take them to high ground and help them hold it.”

1-9-20 Washington Post. White House wants to change environmental rules to speed up highway projects, pipelines and more. “The White House is moving to exempt projects without significant federal funding from environmental reviews that have been required for 50 years, a major shift that would make it easier to build mines, expand airports and lay pipelines, among other things, according to three people familiar with the proposal. The individuals spoke on the condition of anonymity because President Trump is expected to unveil the plan Thursday morning. The proposed changes would narrow the scope of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires federal agencies to assess the impact of a major project before a spade of dirt is turned and to include the public in the process.”

1-7-20 Washington Post. Federal court revokes gas project permit in win for historic African American community in Va. “A panel of federal judges has thrown out the permit for a natural gas pumping station in the historic African American community of Union Hill in Buckingham County, saying state regulators failed to consider whether the facility would disproportionately affect a vulnerable population. The ruling is another setback for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a controversial 600-mile, $7.5 billion project being led by Dominion Energy. Issued Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, the decision faulted Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Board for an action that it said was ‘arbitrary, capricious, and unsupported by substantial evidence in the record.'”

1-7-20 New York Times. Court Tosses Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipeline Station. “A permit needed to build a natural gas compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Virginia was thrown out Tuesday by a federal court that found the state failed to adequately consider the potential health effects on a historic African American community. The unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is a victory for opponents of a proposal to build the station in Union Hill, an unincorporated community that was founded by freed slaves after the Civil War.”

1-7-20 Richmond Times-Dispatch. 4th Circuit vacates state air permit for Buckingham pipeline compressor station. “A federal appeals court dealt another blow to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Tuesday with a ruling that vacates a state air pollution control permit for a natural gas compressor station in Buckingham County for failing to consider the disproportionate health effects on the surrounding, predominantly African American Union Hill community. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the State Air Pollution Control Board had ‘failed to grapple with the likelihood that those living closest to the compression station…will be affected more than those living in other parts of the county.’ The 47-page decision, written by Judge Stephanie Thacker, also vacated the permit and returned it to the air board to explain why it had failed to consider requiring electric-powered turbines to eliminate most of the pollution emitted by four natural gas-fired turbines at the for the 58,162-horsepower compressor station.”

1-6-20 Heartland Institute. North Carolina Governor Accused of ‘Pay-for-Permit’ Scheme. “North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper improperly used his office to secure $57.8 million for a fund under his control in return for granting construction permits along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), a report requested by the state legislature concludes. Although Cooper did not personally benefit from the fund, the scheme had the appearance of a ‘pay-to-play’ or ‘pay-for-permit’ arrangement in which the Cooper administration approved a permit for the pipeline in 2018, the report states.”

1-5-20 Daily Progress. Legal details could have big effect on pipeline’s fate. “This winter the U.S. Supreme Court will examine legal questions connected to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, thrusting the pipeline project into the national spotlight and intensifying the accompanying debate. The focus of the court’s inquiry — the Appalachian Trail — provides a fascinating counterpoint to the proposed pipeline. The trail and the pipeline are both long and winding paths, but one of them is a wooded trail envisioned as a tool for harmonizing humans’ relationship with nature, whereas the other is a metallic tube that embodies our mastery of it.”

1-3-20 Roanoke Times. Latest lawsuit against Mountain Valley Pipeline contests the taking of private land. “Work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline might be stalled for the winter, but that has not stopped the legal challenges against the embattled project. In the latest attack, brought Thursday, three couples who had their land taken for the natural gas pipeline are contesting the seizures, arguing that as a private company, Mountain Valley should not have been allowed to use the laws of eminent domain. …. Because Congress improperly delegated legislative power to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which in turn gave a private company the authority to invoke eminent domain, all pipeline approvals that led to land being taken under the process should be invalidated, the lawsuit claims.”

1-3-20 Post and Courier [SC]. SC utility regulators reverse course in case between Dominion and solar developers. “South Carolina utility regulators have reversed course in a case involving Dominion Energy and solar developers, bowing to public pressure and potentially opening the door to more competition in the energy market. The S.C. Public Service Commission announced Friday it had reconsidered an earlier ruling that decided how much Dominion, an investor-owned utility, must pay solar developers who want to supply power to the grid in South Carolina. The commission’s earlier decision was widely criticized by environmental organizations and lawmakers who passed legislation last year to expand solar power in the state.”

1-3-20 S&P Global. Analysis: Low prices, investor pressure drive slowdown in Appalachian gas production. “Appalachian gas production last month registered its first monthly decline since May as producers in the dynamic US Northeast shale basin responded to low prices and growing pressure from the investment community. In December, output across the Marcellus and Utica averaged 33.1 Bcf/d, having declined nearly 380 MMcf/d compared to the prior-month average, S&P Global Platts Analytics data shows. Last month’s slowdown comes amid sustained low gas prices in the region. In the fourth quarter, cash prices at the Appalachian benchmark Dominion South averaged just $1.78/MMBtu, marking a two-year low and testing producers’ margins for profit. …. Low gas prices aren’t the only challenge producers are facing, though. In 2019, some of Appalachia’s biggest drillers saw company stock prices tumble as a skeptical investment community increasingly turns its back on the dry gas industry.”

1-3-20 Washington Post. White House update of key environmental law would exclude climate change. “The Trump administration will instruct federal agencies to no longer take climate change into account when measuring the impact of major infrastructure projects, according to two senior administration officials — a sweeping overhaul of one of the nation’s most consequential environmental laws. The proposed changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act are aimed at speeding approvals for pipelines, oil and gas leases, highway construction and other kinds of development. The law, which was last updated in 1978, has proved one of the most potent stumbling blocks to President Trump’s push to accelerate oil, gas and coal extraction across the country. Under NEPA, agencies are required to analyze the extent to which proposed federal actions affect everything from endangered species to water quality to greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change.”

1-3-20 Inside Climate News. 2020: A Year of Pipeline Court Fights, with One Lawsuit Headed to the Supreme Court. “After years of mounting opposition to the increasing build-out of oil and gas infrastructure, 2020 is shaping up to be the year that pipeline opponents get their day in court. One case headed to the U.S. Supreme Court takes a closer look at whether parts of the Appalachian Trail are off-limits to fossil fuel infrastructure and may determine the fate of two multi-billion-dollar pipelines. …. Meanwhile, a question of potentially greater significance looms: Can pipeline companies continue to justify taking private land as the public benefits of fossil fuel pipelines are increasingly questioned and the risks they pose to the environment and climate increase?”

1-2-20 Roanoke Times. Letter: Colossal blunder. “Much to their chagrin, the companies who perpetuated this disaster [the MVP] are now discovering that MVP is a colossal financial blunder. The market for methane gas is collapsing due to overproduction. Fracking enterprises are going bankrupt left and right. The stock prices for the companies behind MVP have crashed. Multiple other pipeline projects either beat MVP to market or are stalled. Intense growth in renewable energy is eliminating demand for gas.”

December 2019

12-31-19 Solar Builder. Renewable energy could top natural gas in new capacity added in U.S. in 2019. “According to a review by the SUN DAY Campaign of data recently released by both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) for the first ten months of 2019, the mix of renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) is on track to place first in the race for new U.S. electrical generating capacity added in 2019. FERC’s latest monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” report (with data through October 31, 2019) reveals that natural gas holds a diminishing lead for 2019 with 49.67% of all new generating capacity compared to 48.45% for the mix of renewables (i.e., wind – 28.55%, solar – 18.59%, hydropower – 0.83%, biomass – 0.41%, geothermal – 0.06%). The balance of new capacity added includes nuclear power (0.99%), oil (0.49%), coal (0.39%), and “other” (0.01%).”

12-30-19 S&P Global. Market, investor pressures to weigh on Appalachian natural gas production growth next year. “Growing pressure on Appalachian producers from low prices, midstream constraints and a hawkish investor community could be enough in 2020 to finally pause a decade-long rise in the basin’s natural gas production. …. Over the past nine months, gas prices at Appalachia’s primary supply hub, Dominion South, have averaged less than $2/MMBtu, testing wellhead breakeven values, even for the most efficient, low-cost producers. …. Among the remaining projects with scheduled completion dates in 2020, 2021 or 2022 — including Atlantic Coast Pipeline (1.5 Bcf/d), PennEast Pipeline (1.1 Bcf/d), Northern Access (500 MMcf/d) and Constitution Pipeline (650 MMcf/d) — stalled permits and legal battles over permit validity are stopping pipeline construction from proceeding or in some cases even starting.”

12-30-19 Virginia Mercury. Natural gas development is speeding up in Virginia. Legislators will have to square that with state climate goals. “This September, Gov. Ralph Northam took the stage at the inaugural Virginia Clean Energy Summit to announce he was committing the state to a carbon-free grid by 2050. …. But as the governor received a standing ovation, elsewhere in the commonwealth work was underway to massively expand infrastructure supporting a very different — and decidedly not carbon-free — type of energy: natural gas. The past year has seen a flow of investments in natural gas in Virginia, from ongoing work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline and continued efforts to construct the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to plans by state utilities and private investors to build up to 12 new natural gas plants. Now, as the General Assembly prepares to convene this January under new Democratic leadership, lawmakers are struggling to chart a course for Virginia’s energy policy in a state split between carbon-free goals and intensive natural gas investment.”

12-29-19 Wake Weekly [NC]. Pipeline property owners in waiting game: Supreme Court to weigh in on Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “A stay stopping the project actions issued by U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle in the Eastern District of North Carolina has expired. The stay affects property owners in Wilson, Nash, Halifax and Northampton counties. …. Boyle lifted the stay on Oct. 28 and has directed the cases to proceed. Collectively, the 14 property owners filed a motion to reconsider on Dec.10. ‘We have submitted a second request for that in view of the fact that the Appalachian Trail crossing case is going to the Supreme Court,’ Winstead said. ‘Those arguments will be heard in late February. In fact, our side of the Appalachian Trail arguments will be presented on Feb. 24. We get to go last in that case. And then the court will consider and render its written decision sometime in May or June.’ If the court rules in opposition to the ACP crossing the Appalachian Trail, the developer would be forced to consider a reroute in order for the project to go forward.”

12-27-19 Daily Progress. Opinion/Letter: Stop the pipelines; repurpose those resources. “When former Vice President Al Gore came to Buckingham County Middle School in February, he showed one slide that has stuck with me: Emissions from the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines would nearly double the current emissions from all of Virginia’s existing power plants and fossil fuel infrastructure. Also according to the clean-energy group Oil Change International, the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines would severely increase greenhouse emissions in Virginia. …. I encourage other citizens in Virginia, regardless of party affiliation, to speak the truth to those in power about this contribution to the climate emergency and to stop the building of the compressor station and the ACP and MVP pipelines. Why not use those resources to build renewable energy infrastructure instead?”

12-27-19 Blue Virginia. Why Does the Misnamed Virginia Clean Economy Act Propose Slow Walking the Transition Away from Electricity Generated by Fracked Gas? “Last week, a group of legislators and environmental organizations held a press conference in Richmond to push a bill they are calling the ‘Virginia Clean Economy Act’ (VCEA). The bill itself, which to date has not been released publicly, was developed in part by an industry trade association called Advanced Energy Economy (AEE). As others have noted, VCEA’s renewable energy goals are far more timid than, for example, the Green New Deal Act, HB 77, introduced by Delegate Sam Rasoul on December 6. Adam Siegel, a long time energy professional, has called VCEA ‘business as usual’ and noted that it relies on 2018 data from Dominion Energy that already has been rejected as unreliable by the State Corporation Commission.”

12-26-19 Staunton News Leader. The ACP as parasitic worm. “Burrowing beneath the skin of the earth all across America, new oil and gas pipelines are erupting in a rash of environmental destruction. More than 20,000 miles of new pipelines were built between 1998 and 2008, and tens of thousands more are under construction or proposed. Extreme energy extraction through hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas and oil demands extreme infrastructure support. Leaving soil-bleeding scars as they excavate ever forward, these pipelines are subsidized by taxpayer dollars but designed for corporate profits. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would be one of the most destructive if it is allowed.”

12-25-19 Nelson County Times. Nelson planning commission recommends approval of extended-stay campsite. “On Dec. 18, the Nelson County Planning Commission voted 3-2 to recommend approval of a special use permit application from Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland to allow 47 wet RV sites — meaning they have a water and sewer hookup — and 10 future cabins to be extended-stay campgrounds. Travelers would be able to stay for up to 180 days. The Nelson County Board of Supervisors will hear the request at its January meeting.”

12-25-19 Washington Post. Fairfax solar plan could spur change to Va. law meant to shield Dominion Energy from competitors. “Fairfax County is moving to buy energy from contractors who would install solar panels on more than 100 county buildings, part of a growing environmental effort that aims to remove protections against competition given to the powerful Dominion Energy company. …. That goal runs counter to Dominion-friendly state restrictions that limit how much solar energy can be created through such “power purchase agreements.” The restrictions, part of a 2013 pilot program, mandate that the amount of energy generated through those agreements be kept below 50 megawatts throughout Dominion’s service area…. With more local governments and Virginia school districts pursuing solar agreements, the state cap is almost reached, renewable energy advocates say. They predict the Fairfax effort will spur attempts by the new Democratic majority in the General Assembly to eliminate the restrictions.”

12-23-19 The American Prospect. Through Snow and Rain, Tree Sitters Continue to Fight a Gas Pipeline. “The protests, intended to slow down the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Virginia and West Virginia, are now in their second year. …. Though construction has ceased for the time being, the pipeline company continues maintenance and erosion control at the construction site across from the Yellow Finch blockade, where protesters remain to prevent trees from being cleared. Environmental groups continue to fight in court to delay the pipeline, with the ultimate goal of preventing its completion.”

12-23-19 E&E News. 8 energy battles to watch in 2020. “The start of the new decade will be a milestone year for litigation on energy issues. Federal courts will kick off 2020 with arguments and hearings in cases that could more clearly define federal authority over the oil, gas and electricity sectors and agencies’ duty to consider environmental harms from energy use and development. The battles are scattered across district and appellate benches, and at least one case has made its way to the Supreme Court.” [Three of the eight cases to watch are pipeline cases: Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Penn East, and Atlantic Sunrise.]

12-23-19 Washington Post. What Trump was talking about in his baffling rant about wind energy. “The line about fumes was clunky and attracted attention. But, rest assured, it will either be streamlined and refined or cut from the rotation entirely in Trump’s future speeches. What’s important to Trump isn’t the accuracy of what he’s saying, after all. What’s important is the extent to which his base appreciates it.”

12-22-19 Blue Virginia. Rev. Robert Dilday – Recently Ordained Episcopal Priest in Richmond and Leader in Virginia Environmental, Anti-Pipeline Movements – Dies Suddenly. “Rest in peace, Rev. Robert Dilday, an Episcopal priest at St. Stephen’s in Richmond, who passed away suddenly last night. …. Dilday, who was ordained just a week ago, was also a “faith-based journalist,” “climate justice advocate” and co-director, along with Rev. E. Weston Mathews of Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains – of the Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice, whose goal is ‘to be faithful stewards of creation by supporting resistance to its degradation and exploitation.'”

12-21-19 Arkansas Times. Money talks, Republican attorneys general such as Leslie Rutledge listen. “Why in the world does Attorney General Leslie Rutledge get involved in cases such as opposition to a pipeline crossing in Virginia that will defile the Appalachian Trail? Answer: Money. And lots of it from corporate interests. A giant energy company wants to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, including the trail crossing. Giant energy companies pour big sums into the Republican Attorneys General Association (which Rutledge once headed). It is essentially a PAC to elect Republicans. The attorneys general seem to return the favors of contributors by intervening around the country in cases of interest to the benefactors, such as the company with the pipeline project.”

12-20-19 Bloomberg. Going 100% Green Will Pay For Itself in Seven Years, Study Finds. “A Stanford University professor whose research helped underpin the U.S. Democrats’ Green New Deal says phasing out fossil fuels and running the entire world on clean energy would pay for itself in under seven years. It would cost $73 trillion to revamp power grids, transportation, manufacturing and other systems to run on wind, solar and hydro power, including enough storage capacity to keep the lights on overnight, Mark Jacobson said in a study published Friday in the journal One Earth. But that would be offset by annual savings of almost $11 trillion, the report found.”

12-20-19 Bacon’s Rebellion. Dominion Plans Four New Gas Units. “Despite its recent advertising campaign rebranding itself as a ‘green’ utility, Dominion Energy is planning to build four natural gas ‘peaking units’ costing $600 million at its Chesterfield County generating station. The utility filed for a permit for the State Air Pollution Control Board, according to the Chesterfield Observer. The gas plants would generate 1,000 megawatts of power to electrify 250,000 homes. One phase of the project would be completed in 2023 with another going online the following year.”

12-19-19 Electrek. 3 reasons why the US natural gas boom is fizzling out. “Natural gas prices plummeted at the end of November due to a glut of supply. It’s also looking as though a warmer December is going to keep demand down. And finally, the fossil fuel is being increasingly banned in US cities and towns for environmental and safety reasons.”

12-19-19 Blue Virginia. Video: “Virginia Clean Economy Act” Unveiled. Is It Adequate to the Challenges and Opportunities We Face? “See [this link] for video of the unveiling a bit earlier today, by Sen. Jennifer McClellan (patron in the Senate), Del. Rip Sullivan (patron in the House) and Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (chief co-patron in the House) [UPDATE: Del. Alfonso Lopez (chief co-patron in the House) couldn’t make it this morning, but he played a role in developing this legislation the past few months] and – as the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) calls it, ‘a broad and diverse coalition of advocacy groups and business voices to unveil the Virginia Clean Economy Act, a bill that will take historic steps to give Virginia a 100% carbon-free electricity grid and eliminate emissions by Virginia’s utilities by 2050.’ Also, see [this link] for a two-page summary of the Virginia Clean Economy Act”

12-16-19 Reuters. Dominion still sees U.S. Atlantic Coast natgas pipe online in 2022 despite Morgan Stanley’s doubts. “Dominion Energy Inc (D.N) said on Monday it was confident it will complete the proposed $7.3-$7.8 billion Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina by early 2022, in response to a prediction by investment bank Morgan Stanley that a court decision would likely scuttle the project. …. Dominion made its comments after Morgan Stanley said in a report that ‘Atlantic Coast will likely not be completed given the Fourth Circuit’s likely (in the bank’s view) rejection, for the third time, of a newly issued Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement that we expect to come by the first quarter of 2020.'”

12-15-19 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Virginia needs a more transparent regulatory system for fossil fuel investments. “With Democrats’ sweep of the General Assembly, Virginians might think the state was poised to embrace a clean energy policy — and prioritize public health, and clean air and water — over fossil fuel energy investment. Unfortunately, Virginia seems hell-bent on fast-tracking a massive expansion of fossil gas infrastructure. It’s been widely reported that Democratic governors Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam have supported two controversial pipeline projects — the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — despite a growing outcry from residents about their staggering environmental impact. Less well known are two more massive gas projects quietly being shepherded through Virginia’s regulatory system.”

12-15-19 Times West Virginian. State leaders continue to betray future generations. “West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey is leading an effort with 17 other state attornies general to push the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline forward, despite legal rulings that have held construction up for about a year now. The 18-state alliance filing a ‘friend of the court’ brief to argue that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was inaccurate in ruling that the U.S. Forest Service lacked authority to grant the Atlantic Coast Pipeline rights-of-way through forestland beneath federal trails. Morrissey said in a press release the state has lost revenue and economic growth due to the development of the ACP being stalled out. …. With all due respect to Mr. Morrissey, we think his efforts are misplaced. …. Instead of putting all this effort into industries that ultimately harm the citizens of West Virginia, we should be focusing on education, economic diversity and programs to help and retrain the workers whose livelihoods were destroyed when the coal industry went through massive layoffs.”

12-12-19 WOSU. Study: Natural Gas Led To Economic Benefits And Premature Deaths In Region. “A new study by Carnegie Mellon University finds that in the Pennsylvania-Ohio-West Virginia region, the economic boost from shale gas drilling has been less than the cost of premature deaths caused by pollution from the industry. The study, published last month in the journal Nature Sustainability, found that between 2004-2016, shale development created a regional economic boost of $21 billion. That’s compared with $23 billion in the costs related to the 1,200-4,600 premature deaths linked to air pollution from the industry.”

12-12-19 Natural Gas Intel. Feds Extend MVP’s Reopened Endangered Species Review by 60 Days. “FERC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have extended an ongoing Endangered Species Act review of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) by 60 days due to missing information, a regulatory filing this week shows. Earlier this year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asked the USFWS to reopen its review of the 2 Bcf/d, 300-mile Appalachia-to-Southeast pipeline due to new concerns over the project’s potential impacts to several protected species. That request triggered a 90-day consultation period that was set to expire this week, but the agencies opted to extend the consultation period to Feb. 10 as USFWS looks to address ‘identified data gaps’ and complete its review.”

12-12-19 Washington Post. Bipartisan bill in Va. chips away at Dominion’s excess profits. “Two state lawmakers unveiled a bipartisan effort on Thursday to reclaim the state’s authority to set electric rates, a sign that the incoming Democratic-controlled legislature may take on Virginia’s biggest utility, Dominion Energy. Dels. Lee Ware (R-Powhatan) and Jerrauld C. ‘Jay’ Jones (D-Norfolk) said their proposal is a ‘common sense’ effort to restore protections for consumers. Called the Fair Energy Bills Act, the measure would reinstate the authority of the State Corporation Commission to review electricity base rates and set profit levels for Dominion. Much of that authority was stripped away in 2015 when the General Assembly agreed to freeze base rates and prevent the commission from ordering the utilities to return excess profits to ratepayers.”

12-12-19 Roanoke Times. Judge approves $2.15 million settlement of lawsuit against Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Mountain Valley Pipeline will pay $2.15 million for the environmental damage it has caused so far in building a natural gas pipeline through Southwest Virginia, while facing additional penalties for any new violations that may occur. Those were the conditions of a settlement, approved this week, of a lawsuit brought against the company by state regulators. …. The consent decree signed by Henrico County Circuit Judge Richard Wallerstein on Wednesday calls for court-ordered compliance and supervision of future construction, providing more stringent oversight of Mountain Valley than what would be provided under normal DEQ enforcement.”

12-11-19 New York Times. Natural Gas Boom Fizzles as a U.S. Glut Sinks Profits. “A decade ago, natural gas was heralded as the fuel of the future. …. The boom has given way to a bust. A glut of cheap natural gas is wreaking havoc on the energy industry, and companies are shutting down drilling rigs, filing for bankruptcy protection and slashing the value of shale fields they had acquired in recent years. …. Nowhere are the declining fortunes of natural gas more in evidence than in Appalachia, where the Marcellus field centered in central and western Pennsylvania was once viewed as the most promising in North America. With gas prices slashed nearly in half from a year ago, the number of drilling rigs operating in Pennsylvania has dropped to 24, from 47, over the last 12 months. EQT, one of the premier producers in the Marcellus, recently cut nearly a quarter of its work force, eliminating 196 positions.”

12-11-19 Virginian-Pilot. Virginia Natural Gas received draft agenda item on Atlantic Coast Pipeline before it was public, emails show. “Before an influential planning commission was set to publicly debate throwing its support behind the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the group’s executive director went back and forth with an employee of one of the pipeline’s chief proponents, according to emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Robert Crum, the director, eventually provided Virginia Natural Gas a draft agenda item that requested the commission endorse the project. Upon learning of the emails, opponents of the contentious infrastructure project that would bring natural gas from West Virginia to Chesapeake were critical of the ‘best friend’ access proponents of the pipeline seemed to be getting. They argued that it has happened all along the pipeline’s path.”

12-9-19 Augusta Free Press. Rasoul’s Green New Deal Act addresses climate emergency. “Roanoke Democrat Sam Rasoul announced Monday that he is introducing legislation to address the climate change emergency. Del. Rasoul’s bill, the Green New Deal Act, HB 77, is part of a suite of bills developed by Green New Deal Virginia, a broad coalition of more than 60 grassroots organizations co-founded in 2018 by Rasoul and Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William County.”

12-9-19 Energy and Policy Institute. Report details utilities’ use of charitable giving to influence politics. “In a first-of-its-kind analysis, the Energy and Policy Institute has examined the charitable contributions of 10 leading investor-owned electric utilities in the U.S. We found that all of these major utilities use their charitable giving to manipulate politics, policies and regulation in ways designed to increase shareholder profits, often at the expense of low-income communities whose communities are more likely to bear the brunt of climate impacts and suffer higher levels of air pollution.”

12-9-19 WVNews. WV AG Morrisey-led coalition files brief urging U.S. Supreme Court to reverse pipeline shutdown. “A group of U.S. attorneys general, led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, filed a brief Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that shut down construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The 18-member coalition filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the high court. In the brief, the coalition argues that an appellate court ruling shutting down the pipeline was inaccurate. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the U.S. Forest Service lacked the authority to grant the Atlantic Coast Pipeline rights of way through forestland beneath federal trails, specifically the Appalachian Trail.”  NB:  16 of the 18 states who filed neither touch the Appalachian Trail nor do they have the ACP going through them. THREE out of FOUR states who do decline to support the brief, VA, PA and NC.

12-6-19 Facing South. Big Energy front group launches push for troubled Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “A lobbying group formed by oil and gas industry insiders to push for increased fossil fuel production has turned its focus from promoting offshore drilling in the Atlantic to championing Dominion Energy’s and Duke Energy’s controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). It’s doing so under the guise of being a pro-consumer group concerned about energy justice, even while its members include major gas production companies as well as Dominion Energy. Last week, the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) had a letter to the editor published in The News & Observer of Raleigh making the case for the proposed pipeline…. The letter comes on the heels of two reports the CEA recently released in North Carolina — one purporting to show that burning more natural gas saves consumers money and another claiming that it’s good for the environment. The former was based on calculations developed by Orion Strategies, a West Virginia-based public relations firm that serves the energy industry. A version of the CEA’s environmental report that was released in Pennsylvania, one of the nation’s top gas-producing states, has come under fire from public health advocates as misleading.”

12-6-19 SELC. Proposed federal energy rollbacks threaten renewable energy growth. “This week, SELC filed comments on behalf of eighteen organizations across the Southeast opposing proposed rollbacks to clean energy policies at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. One of FERC’s duties is to implement the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act. Enacted in 1978 to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and encourage renewable energy generation, the law enables competition by requiring monopoly utilities to purchase power from certain independent power producers. In many states, PURPA is the only legal tool available to support the development of independent power producers that promote energy independence, reduce reliance on fossil fuel generation, and provide low-cost renewable energy to ratepayers. ‘The agency’s latest proposals will make it easier for utilities to avoid their federal obligations by increasing uncertainty and impairing financing for renewable energy projects, and by reducing the requirement to purchase clean renewable energy,’ says Senior Attorney Lauren Bowen, leader of SELC’s Solar Power Initiative.”

12-5-19 Bloomberg. D.C. Circuit to Review FERC Practice Called ‘Kafkaesque’ “The D.C. Circuit will take a closer look at a federal energy agency’s review practice that has long frustrated natural gas pipeline challengers and was recently derided by one judge as a ‘Kafkaesque regime.’ The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Dec. 5 agreed to rehear a case involving the Transcontinental Pipeline’s Atlantic Sunrise project, which cuts through Pennsylvania and connects to a broader East Coast network of natural gas infrastructure. …. At issue in the rehearing is FERC’s use of “tolling orders” to respond to administrative challenges to pipeline approvals. Under the Natural Gas Act, FERC has 30 days to respond to challenges. It uses tolling orders to extend that deadline. Challengers generally can’t go to court to oppose a pipeline until FERC issues a final decision on an administrative challenge. Tolling orders can drag out the timeline so long that construction on a project is complete before a landowner, environmental group, or other challenger has had an opportunity to go to court.

12-5-19 Virginia Mercury. In Virginia, Union Hill and racial tensions have put environmental justice back on the map. “For many activists and policymakers, no single event has done more to put environmental justice on the Virginia map than the state’s approval of a plan by Dominion Energy to site a natural gas compressor station for the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline in the historic freedmen’s community of Union Hill. The decision, which made national headlines and is still being litigated in the courts, was described as ‘almost a symbol of racism’ by Robinson [Dawone Robinson, the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic director of energy affordability at the Natural Resources Defense Council], ‘a very in-your-face specific issue on environmental justice.'”

12-5-19 Utility Dive. Dominion suspends plan to add 1.5 GW of peaking capacity as Virginia faces gas glut. “Dominion Energy on Wednesday announced it suspended a request for proposals (RFP) that targeted up to 1,500 MW of dispatchable peak capacity in its Virginia territory, which observers said would have likely resulted in natural gas additions. Announced in November, the utility said the RFP aimed to replace retiring generation and provide system balancing needs as more renewables are added onto the grid. Dominion said it may reissue the RFP in the future, if it determines the capacity is needed. The utility’s announcement follows reporting from S&P Global that the company has been over-forecasting its demand for years in order to justify spending on new natural gas facilities.”

12-4-19 S&P Global. Overpowered: In Virginia, Dominion faces challenges to its reign. “‘Now, the times they are a-changing,’ said former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who served several years in the General Assembly and who is now the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under President Donald Trump. ‘There’s a political price now to be paid on both sides of the aisle for just doing what Dominion wants. They don’t get to just say what they want and go get it. It’s a fight now. And it’s a fight with political costs.'”

12-4-19 Rewables Now. OVERVIEW – US wind capacity exceeds hydro, while solar tops oil. “According to a review by the SUN DAY Campaign of data just released – quietly – by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the first three-quarters of 2019, solar and wind provided nearly six times as much new generating capacity as natural gas in September. …. [T]he gap between gas and renewables for calendar year 2019 appears to be closing with additions by the latter outpacing gas during each of the last three months reported (i.e., July, August, September). Moreover, compared to its prior monthly report, FERC’s three-year forecast has reduced its projection of net new natural gas additions (i.e., “proposed additions under construction” minus “proposed retirements”) by 99 MW while increasing those from renewable sources by 1,040 MW.”

12-3-19 Grist.  A pipeline runs through it. “The pink ribbons start in northern West Virginia. Tied to flimsy wooden posts stuck a few inches into the earth, they’re easy to miss as they whip in the crisp, fall wind. Heading south, they dot landscapes for 600 miles, marking the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. …. Over the past year, I’ve followed the path of the ribbons from West Virginia to North Carolina. I hiked along steep ridges where they were tied to trees; trudged through muddy cattle farms where they were stuck on fence posts. I drove past them as the route curved around churches and homes. Along the way, I spoke to more than 20 people who lived on or near the proposed route, in addition to scientists, activists, lawyers, and government officials. In some places, I learned that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has pitted neighbor against neighbor and sibling against sibling, that it has split church communities and broken friendships. In others, I found that it inspired folks to speak out at county meetings, to read every line in an environmental assessment, and to organize protests with strangers who became close friends. Here are a few stories about some of the humans, wildlife, and places in the pipeline’s path.”

12-3-19 Register-Herald [WV] Texas construction company no longer working on Mountain Valley Pipeline. “A Texas corporation that has put down roots in Raleigh County is no longer working on a controversial natural gas pipeline in West Virginia, after the pipeline’s major stakeholder unexpectedly cancelled the Texas company’s contract last month. The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a joint project of EQM Midstream Partners LP, Con Edison Transmissions Inc., NextEra US Gas Assets LLC, WGL Midstream and RGC Midstream. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in October halted construction of the 303-mile, interstate pipeline in October, pending the outcome of a series of court challenges launched by environmental groups. In the last week of November, EQM Midstream Partners LP cancelled a work contract for Trinity Energy Services of Argyle, Texas, Trinity spokesman Bob McKibbon verified Monday.”

12-2-19 Bloomberg Environment. Trump Lawyers Defend Pipeline’s Route Across Appalachian Trail. “The U.S. Forest Service has full authority to allow natural gas pipelines to cross the Appalachian Trail, industry lawyers and the Trump administration told the Supreme Court in a pair of Dec. 2 legal filings. Government and industry lawyers say a lower court got it wrong when it ruled that only the National Park Service can oversee development across the trail. …. Environmental groups opposed to the pipeline have until Jan. 15 [2020] to respond to the briefs. Oral argument is set for Feb. 24 [2020]. The case is U.S. Forest Serv. v. Cowpasture River Pres. Ass’n, U.S., No. 18-1584, briefs filed 12/2/19.

12-2-19 Seeking Alpha. Duke Energy: More Dividends In The Pipeline. “One major area of focus for management has been the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in the Carolinas, which is an ongoing project to be completed over the next couple of years and should help with the firm’s natural gas revenue. To cover the cost of the pipeline, management recently held an equity offering of 25 million shares, priced at $86.45 per share, the proceeds of which (over $2 billion) were used to help pay for the roughly $7.5 billion cost of the joint venture (along with Dominion Energy (D) and Southern Company (SO)). The aforementioned investment costs and increasing regulatory hurdles will undoubtedly constrain profitability, and will, in all likelihood leave forward earnings growth below the industry average for the immediate future. If anything, the dividend has become more important than ever to existing shareholders, and as such, should be monitored very closely for any surprises, as any disappointments could lead to a dive in share price.”

12-2-19 Blue Virginia. Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy: Effects of Climate Change Are Here in Virginia Today; Now Is the Time for Bold Leadership. “Climate change is not some distant threat — we’re witnessing many of its effects today right here in Virginia. More notably, we are seeing that the immediate burden of our changing climate is disproportionately impacting low-income communities and communities of color. Union Hill, a predominantly African American community in Buckingham County, is being threatened by Dominion Energy’s effort to build a compressor station for a fracked-methane pipeline. Compressor stations enable gas to flow through the pipelines at high speeds. This pollutes the air and water with toxic chemicals like nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide. These chemicals pose significant health risks, and are linked to heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, impaired lung function, and premature death. Thankfully, we can do something about it. On Nov. 5, Democrats in Virginia won big — giving us a once-in-a-generation chance to implement real change. We need to lead with bold change in mind, and we can do this by fighting against the influence of big corporations like Dominion Energy who have controlled Richmond for far too long.”

12-2-19 Appalachian Voices. Fossil Fuels in Virginia. “Rural landowners and environmental justice advocates have united in opposition to Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. And the fact that sinking billions of captive customer dollars into that fossil fuel project flies in the face of Governor Northam’s well-received call for 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2050 has not gone unnoticed. The next General Assembly, and the governor, have a clear mandate to put an end to the special favors that enrich monopoly utilities at great cost to Virginians.”

12-2-19 WDBJ7. Pipeline opponents ask court to reject agreement between Virginia and MVP. “A coalition of groups that oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline are asking a court to reject an agreement between the pipeline company and the Virginia Attorney General’s Office. …. Members of the POWHR coalition said the agreement ignores almost a year of violations, lacks adequate safeguards and fails to mitigate the damage effectively.”

November 2018

11-27-19 The Nation. Meet the Men Fueling the Climate Crisis. “Until there are courts willing to hold the titans of the climate crisis accountable, it’s up to people to begin calling them out by name. …. Earlier this year, the climate writer Kate Aronoff laid out the case for trying fossil-fuel executives for crimes against humanity. The effort, she argued, ‘would put names and faces to a problem too often discussed in the abstract’ and ‘channel some populist rage at the climate’s 1 percent.’ Not all of us anthropoids, after all, are equally responsible for anthropogenic climate change: More than 60 percent of all the carbon spat into the atmosphere since 1854 can be traced to 90 corporations and state-owned industries. Over the last half century, just 20 firms produced more than a third of all emissions.”

11-27-19 Daily Stock Dish. Duke scientist: Stop building natural gas infrastructure now. “A climate scientist at Duke University, in a letter backed by two dozen former officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, called Thursday for a halt to natural gas development in North Carolina. Drew Shindell, an earth sciences professor at the Nicholas School of the Environment, said Gov. Roy Cooper should push back on Duke Energy‘s plans to build multiple new natural gas plants in the state, essentially asking the governor to back a moratorium in the fight against climate change. ‘The time is now to stop building more fossil fuel construction,’ Shindell, who is part of the United Nations‘ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said on a conference call with reporters.”

11-27-19 Nelson County Times. Nelson County looks to renewable energy. “Nelson County is looking toward the future by combining renewable energy and school curriculum. At the Nelson County Board of Supervisors meeting on Nov. 14, Jesse Rutherford, East District representative, announced plans for Nelson to get into the renewable energy game. ‘I have been part of a group that has been working on soliciting grant money for career and technical education in renewable energy. We have the potential of being the first high school in the state of Virginia to be offering training in that industry,’ Rutherford said.”

11-26-19 S&P Global. FERC takes more time for review of MVP Southgate after route changes. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has pushed back the environmental review schedule for the 73-mile, 375 MMcf/d MVP Southgate project, due to recently proposed route changes, and set the timetable for reviewing the 750 MMcf/d Cameron Expansion project in Louisiana. The natural gas project would connect the mainline of the Mountain Valley Pipeline near Chatham, Virginia, and extend to Rockingham and Alamance counties in North Carolina. FERC now expects to release a final environmental impact statement for MVP Southgate on February 14, 2020, rather than December 19 of this year as previously proposed. FERC pointed to changes to the route and revised data for resource impact, filed October 23, in explaining the extension.”

11-26-19 Charlotte Business Journal. Duke Energy stock sale for pipeline funding comes in below anticipated price. Duke Energy Corp.’s stock sold below its hoped-for price in last week’s forward sale that’s designed to raise about $2.5 billion to finance the remaining costs of its share of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The shares sold to eight banks at $85.99, 46 cents per share lower than what the company announced when it priced the stock at $86.45 on Nov. 18. But the bank consortium involved in the transaction picked up an option to buy an additional 3.75 million shares above the 25 million basic proposal. With the sale of the additional shares, Duke raised $2.47 million. Spokeswoman Catherine Butler acknowledged the price was a little lower than expected. Still, the company raised what it needed out of the sale, she says.”

11-26-19 Daily Tar Heel. Governor’s office denies Republican allegation of misused natural gas pipeline funds. “A Republican investigation into [NC] Gov. Roy Cooper’s influence on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project concluded that he ‘improperly used the authority and influence of his office.’ The investigation was started in 2017 by Republican leaders in the General Assembly, which hired independent investigators to look into funds under the governor’s control that they say were used as leverage to influence the partners of the pipeline. …. The report alleged that the governor attempted to influence the ACP partners in a manner that benefitted solar energy companies. However, the report also said no information found in the investigation showed that Cooper ‘personally benefited’ from the creation of the mitigation fund or the nameplate dispute settlement. According to a press release from Cooper’s spokesperson, Ford Porter, the report further stated that no one in the governor’s office interfered with the issuance of permits, that Duke did not think their permits were contingent on the fund or settlement, and that the governor did not benefit from any of this.”

11-25-19 Who.What.Why. The Latest Pipeline Battle: ‘Everyday People’ vs. Corporate Goliath. “It seems like a David vs. Goliath battle. Since 2014, a coalition of environmental, civil rights, and community groups, along with some local businesses, has fought in court to block a massive $8 billion pipeline. The anti-pipeline coalition, which is represented by an environmental law firm, is up against a politically connected corporation with 7.5 million customers in 18 states, 21,000 employees, and 2018 earnings of $2.4 billion.”

11-25-19 Virginia Mercury. Facing backlash, Dominion says it’s willing to have coal plant removed from green energy package. “Amid complaints from businesses and environmental groups, Virginia’s largest utility said it would be willing to let regulators remove a Southwest Virginia power plant that relies almost entirely on coal from a renewable energy portfolio it is aiming to sell to environmentally conscious consumers.”

11-21-19 Roanoke Times. Bondurant and Leech: The ‘public need’ argument for the MVP grows weaker. “As MVP falters, as state agency evidence negates the core constitutional requirement of public need, as the developer advertises its glut for export, why is any eminent domain process against landowners in federal courts actively proceeding? Where, in this mix, is ‘the interest of justice’?”

11-21-19 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Regulators reject request to boost Dominion’s profit rate. State utility regulators on Thursday rejected a request from Dominion Energy that would have increased the utility’s profit margin through small increases in Virginia ratepayer bills. The State Corporation Commission ruled that it would hold the rate of return at the current level of 9.2% — rejecting Dominion’s request for a return of 10.75%, a rate the SCC said is not ‘consistent with the public interest.'”

11-20-19 News & Advance. Letter: Time to pull plug on natural gas. “Is the Atlantic Coast Pipeline still a good investment? The pipeline will break the carbon budget and lock in long term emissions. Six lawsuits are still outstanding. Pipeline costs continue to rise. Several projected gas plants are canceled, and there are other resource choices that can replace those newly proposed gas “peaker” plants. Offshore wind combined with solar can meet all our summer ‘peak’ demand, and solar-storage or wind-storage are able to back up intermittent power. Those alternatives are already cheaper than new natural gas plants. So are potential demand response and efficiency savings reductions. It is time to pull the plug on gas. The natural gas bridge to the future is behind us.”

11-20-19 Charlotte Observer. There’s enough smoke for an official probe into the NC governor’s pipeline deal. “Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper set out in late 2017 to create a “mitigation fund” intended to offset environmental damage resulting from construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that is planned to roughly follow I-95 through North Carolina. But what resulted is a misbegotten fund that’s causing ongoing political damage — for him. The damage grew Wednesday with the release of a report by private investigators hired by the General Assembly’s Republican leaders. The report, based on research and interviews conducted by the firm Eagle Intel Services LLC, did not find the proverbial smoking gun, but it did find smoke — enough of it that an official investigation is needed to assess the legality of how the fund was established.”

11-20-10 Raleigh News & Observer. Advocates say the state is allowing environmental harm in low-income, minority counties. “The state is failing low-income communities with large African-American and Native American populations by allowing polluting industries to concentrate in their counties, a group of residents said Wednesday as they demanded that an environmental justice advisory board do more to advocate for them. Michael Regan, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Quality, set up the Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board last year. The board has had a low profile even as the state deals with environmental issues that residents say heap harm on economically disadvantaged counties. Opponents of Enviva, a company that produces wood pellets by the ton for export, the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, coal ash disposal sites, and industrial agriculture said the DEQ is watching out for industries and not the people who live near those operations.”

11-20-19 Raleigh News & Observer. Cooper ‘improperly’ used influence on pipeline, investigation started by GOP concludes. “An independent investigation started by Republican General Assembly leaders into the state’s approvals for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline found that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper ‘improperly used the authority and influence of his office’ but did not personally benefit from those decisions. The report was released Wednesday, almost two years after GOP leaders first questioned the governor’s office about the appearance of a ‘pay-to-play’ or ‘pay-for-permit’ after the Cooper administration approved a permit for the pipeline in 2018. Cooper’s administration at that time also announced the pipeline companies would provide $57.8 million to a fund under the governor’s control to be used for environmental mitigation, economic development and renewable energy in areas affected by the pipeline.”

11-19-19 Utility Dive. Time to move away from old precedents in FERC pipeline reviews. “Since adopting its natural gas pipeline Policy Statement 20 years ago, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved 474 gas pipeline projects, representing 23,773 new miles of pipeline around the nation. It has rejected only two projects. This outcome, along with the significant changes that have occurred in the natural gas industry, led me two years ago to call on FERC to update its Policy Statement, which has guided how the Commission considers pipeline projects since 1999. In April 2018, FERC decided that it would consider changes and it requested stakeholder comment. The fact that more than 1,600 comments, from a broad spectrum of industry participants, were filed with the agency suggests the intense interest this debate is generating.”

11-19-19 NRDC. Reform Is Long Overdue for FERC’s Gas Pipeline Reviews. “It’s been almost two years since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced that it would take a fresh look at its 20-year-old policy that guides its reviews of new gas pipeline projects, and almost 18 months since NRDC and others filed more than 1,600 comments with the agency on this very question. Since that time, FERC has been silent on the status of its review. A new NRDC-commissioned report released today brings this important issue back into focus and highlights the key areas for reform.”

11-19-19 WDBJ7. Pipeline opponents say erosion controls are inadequate. “Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline say sediment and erosion controls approved by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality are not protecting water and endangered species. During a Roanoke news conference Tuesday afternoon, they cited conditions near Yellow Finch Lane in Montgomery County. They said citizen monitors documented problems there in the days after DEQ approved the controls.”

11-18-19 The Motley Fool. Is Dominion Energy a Great Dividend Stock?  “One of the largest utilities in the United States, Dominion Energy (NYSE:D) is currently offering investors a very attractive 4.6% dividend yield. That’s 1.8 percentage points higher than the average utility, as measured by Vanguard Utilities Index ETF, and about 2.6 percentage points higher than an S&P 500 Index fund. But a high yield isn’t enough to make Dominion a great dividend stock. Here’s a deeper look at Dominion to help you figure out if it belongs in your dividend portfolio. …. Add all of this up, and it’s hard to call Dominion a great dividend stock today. If the dividend were more secure, perhaps. Or if the dividend growth rate were more robust, maybe. Or if the valuation were deeply discounted, sure. But right now Dominion doesn’t really stand out in any material way other than a relatively high yield. That’s not enough to call it a great dividend stock.”

11-12-19 WITF [PA]   FBI eyes how Pennsylvania approved pipeline. “The FBI has begun a corruption investigation into how Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration came to issue permits for construction on a multibillion-dollar pipeline project to carry highly volatile natural gas liquids across Pennsylvania, The Associated Press has learned. FBI agents have interviewed current or former state employees in recent weeks about the Mariner East project and the construction permits, according to three people who have direct knowledge of the agents’ line of questioning. …. The focus of the agents’ questions involves the permitting of the pipeline, whether Wolf and his administration forced environmental protection staff to approve construction permits and whether Wolf or his administration received anything in return, those people say. …. the construction has spurred millions of dollars in fines, several temporary shutdown orders, lawsuits, protests and investigations. When construction permits were approved in 2017, environmental advocacy groups accused Wolf’s administration of pushing through incomplete permits that violated the law.”

11-12-19 WMRA. Valley Activists Aid Mountain Valley Pipeline Opponents. “The proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines are slated to carry natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia, and in the case of the Atlantic Coast pipeline, on into North Carolina. Even as construction has been halted or limited by legal challenges, opposition to those projects remains strong among some residents. …. Opponents of the pipelines cite accelerated climate change, health and safety risks, ecosystem destruction, and the abuse of eminent domain as reasons for their activism.”

11-10-19 Kent County News. How a blind crustacean stopped a power company. “Dominion and Duke Energy in late July lost yet another federal permit to build the ill-conceived Atlantic Coast Pipeline. For the second time, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Dominion’s permit to take, kill and destroy habitat for federally listed endangered species. A bumble bee, a bat, a mussel and a tiny blind crustacean are in the proposed path of the 42-inch fracked-gas pipeline. All four species are on the brink of extinction. …. But, wait, aren’t there also hundreds of people in the path of the pipeline that don’t want Dominion to take their land through eminent domain? Won’t thousands of streams and rivers be damaged by sediment pollution during construction? And what about the environmental injustice in Union Hill, Va., where a toxic compressor station for the pipeline is planned in a community of descendants of freed slaves? Wasn’t all that enough to stop the pipeline? …. If a bee, a bat, a mussel and a crustacean can stop Dominion’s destructive pipeline, I’m all for it. I just wish the people in its path had as much standing in court as the critters.”

11-8-19 Virginia Mercury. Green power for suckers program gets SCC approval.  “Virginia’s State Corporation Commission has approved Dominion Energy Virginia’s request to offer a new product to electric utility customers who want to buy renewable energy at a discount but lack the knowledge to understand when they are being taken for chumps. ‘Rider REC’ is an ultra-cheap version of the company’s Green Power Program (itself of questionable value). For less than a buck a month on their electric bills, customers will be able to buy renewable energy certificates that cost Dominion next to nothing because no one else wants them. And for good reason: these are the dregs of the renewable energy category. You won’t find any wind or solar in Rider REC, but you might find paper mill waste, trees burned after clear-cutting or century-old hydro dams — all officially ‘renewable’ under the generous provisions of Virginia law. Dominion will scrounge up these old and dirty leftovers, package them up and put a green bow on them.”

11-8-19 New York Times. Natural Gas or Renewables? New Orleans Choice Is Shadowed by Katrina. “Is it wise to keep building fossil-fuel plants — even those powered by natural gas rather than coal — that will be in operation for decades? Or are wind turbines and solar farms now reliable and economical enough to take their place?” Article includes discussion of the rapidly dropping cost of renewables, utility company arguments about why renewables are not sufficient to meet needs, environmental justice issues – and the fallout from utility companies hiring of paid actors to stack public hearings in their favor.

11-8-19 Charlotte Business Journal. Sudden change of plans for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline surprises Duke Energy investors. “Duke Energy Corp. has changed its construction and financing plans for the still-stalled Atlantic Coast Pipeline, pushing off any operations to 2022 and issuing $2.5 billion in additional stock by the end of next year to cover costs. Charlotte-based Duke (NYSE: DUK) has been saying for some time that it did not anticipate issuing additional stock for the project. The sudden reversal, announced in conjunction with Duke’s earnings Friday, came as a surprise to investors, said analyst Andy Smith at Edward Jones. He suspects that it is the major contributor to a drop in Duke’s stock price.”

11-7-19 Utility Dive. Dominion Virginia plan for 1.5 GW new peaking capacity will lead to more gas plants, NGOs fear. “Dominion Energy Virginia is seeking up to 1,500 MW of new dispatachable peak capacity beginning in 2022, to replace generation retirements and to provide system balancing needs for the company’s growing renewables fleet. Environmental groups say the RFP aims to bring new gas-fired generation into the state, which is at odds with state policy targeting 100% carbon-free power by 2050. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, D, in September signed Executive Order 43 setting the state on a course to reach 30% renewables by 2030, along with the 2050 goal. Dominion says it is on track to meet the state’s clean energy goals, but the need for additional generation was identified in recent Integrated Resource Plans. Proposals for new generation are due to the utility by Dec. 19.”

11-7-19 Nelson County Times. Letter: Court’s decision a bump in the road. “The Supreme Court’s recent decision to hear Dominion’s appeal for reinstatement of the permit to cross the Appalachian Trail is a bump in the road, not the end of the story. However this case is decided, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) faces many more challenges. As the case goes forward, public appreciation of the weakness of the ACP proposal will continue to grow. …. Dominion’s appeal to the Supreme Court is a Hail Mary attempt to rescue a pipeline that is clearly in jeopardy. The ACP is two years behind schedule and close to $3 billion over the estimated cost. Dominion’s captive ratepayers are waking up to the billions of dollars they will be compelled to pay for the pipeline and the additional 15 percent ‘return on equity’ guaranteed by federal law. Investors are growing wary of fossil fuels; Moody’s has downgraded the ACP to a risky investment. Renewable energy continues its trend of increasing efficiency and declining cost. The myth of methane as a ‘bridge fuel’ has evaporated. Public concern about climate change is growing explosively worldwide.”

11-6-19 Clean Virginia. Virginia Candidates Refusing Dominion Money Win Nearly 50 General Assembly Seats. “In a decisive rebuke to Dominion Energy’s unprecedented electoral spending, voters in Virginia overwhelmingly rejected the monopoly’s attempts to influence Virginia’s political system in statewide elections yesterday. All seven flipped seats in the House of Delegates and State Senate went to candidates who refused campaign contributions from the utility monopolies they will regulate in the General Assembly — Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power Company. This issue resonated with Virginian voters across party lines, as two Republican incumbents who also refused these campaign contributions kept their seats in highly contested races.”

11-6-19 S&P Global. Virginia’s legislative shift could tighten RGGI market, impact gas pipeline development. “The Democratic Party winning control of both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly in Tuesday’s elections paves the way for the state to join a regional emissions cap-and-trade program, thus tightening that oversupplied market, and could have natural gas pipeline development implications. …. Virginia wrote and finalized a regulation to cap carbon dioxide emissions earlier this year, but the budget did not allocate any money for it. The regulation is designed to cap emissions from 32 fossil fuel-fired power plants with more than 25 MW of generation capacity starting in 2020, and then require a 30% emissions reduction over the next 10 years. ‘With the election results, we are very hopeful the Assembly will fully fund Governor Northam’s carbon regulations,’ Will Cleveland, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said in a phone call Wednesday.”

11-6-19 The Intercept. Democratic Sweep Sets Up Confrontation With Corporate Giant That Has Loomed Over Virginia Politics for a Century. “The stunning victory on Tuesday by Virginia Democrats, seizing control of both chambers of the state legislature and bringing the state under unified party control, sets up a new confrontation with a powerful adversary: Dominion Energy. Dominion Energy, the privately owned utility company, has long cast a shadow across the state, buying favor in both parties as the most generous donor in state history, writing its own lax regulatory rules, and funneling consumer bills into billions of dollars of investor dividends and executive compensation.”

11-5-19 Progressive Pulse. [NC]DEQ staff to investigators: We knew nothing about the governor’s deal with Dominion over Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Ten NC Department of Environmental Quality staff, including Assistant Secretary Sheila Holman, told investigators earlier this month that they did not communicate with the governor’s office in advance about a $57.8 million mitigation fund related to the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Nor was there a quid pro quo involving a key water quality permit for the natural gas project and the fund, DEQ staff said.”

11-5-19 Virginia Mercury. Report: Department of Defense ‘precariously unprepared’ for climate change risks. “If the stalwart presence of the U.S. military in Virginia makes you feel safer in an uncertain world plagued by sea level rise and climate change, a recent report by the U.S. Army War College would like to disabuse you of that sense of security. According to ‘Implications of Climate Change for the U.S. Army,’ the Department of Defense is ‘precariously unprepared for the national security implications’ of climate change, while the U.S. Army has fostered an ‘environmentally oblivious’ culture. ‘In short, the Army is an environmental disaster,’ the authors write.”

11-5-19 Pittsburgh Business Times. Mountain Valley co-owner puts cap on investment in pipeline. “Con Edison, the large New York-based utility company, is scaling back its investment in the troubled Mountain Valley Pipeline. Con Edison (NYSE: ED) revealed in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday that its subdiary CET Gas will cap its investment in MVP, the 300-mile pipeline that has been mired in legal cases on the state and federal level, to $530 million. Con Edison has already spent about $488 million.”

11-4-19 NBC29. Environmental Nonprofit Studies Potential Impact of ACP on African American Community. ” The potential impacts of a proposed compressor station in Buckingham County were explored Monday night. One group is determined to explain how the planned placement of that part of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline contributes to racism while harming the environment. A report released Monday night by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League goes into detail about how black people and minorities would see the most harm from that compressor station. The problem it says is not new, because according to this report, it stems from a history of racist practices.”

11-4-19 Raw Story. Meet Trump’s ‘see no evil’ energy commission nominee.  “The attorney Trump nominated for a seat on a federal commission that oversees pipeline construction and other energy projects wants to impose the legal equivalent of the three monkeys that see no evil in assessing how oil and gas companies are destroying our planet. James Danly, a relatively inexperienced attorney who was an associate at the mega-lobbying and law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom before the White House named him the general counsel for the commission, prefers the benign-sounding phrase ‘humble regulator.'”

11-3-19 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Letter: Jorge Aguilar on Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “The concession that Union Hill is a predominantly African American community is confirmation of what Virginia’s environmental justice advocates have known for years: Communities of color are disproportionately targeted when it comes to fossil fuel infrastructure projects, in this case the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s dirty compressor station, scheduled to be built in the midst of a community descended from former slaves. …. After the race-related scandals of the past year, Northam and state officials have sought to address some of the long-term racial inequities that have been prevalent in Virginia. This is a clear moment when Northam can act to do the right thing and demand that agencies revoke the state permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and accompanying compressor stations.”

11-1-19 Virginia Mercury. On nation’s biggest proposed offshore wind farm, Dominion plans to fly solo. “Dominion Energy intends to move forward alone with developing the nation’s largest proposed offshore wind farm, an enterprise estimated to cost $8 billion, top utility leaders indicated to investors in a third-quarter earnings call Friday morning. ‘The project will be developed and owned by Dominion Energy Virginia, with regulated cost recovery subject to approval by the Virginia State Corporation Commission,’ said Dominion CEO, Chairman and President Tom Farrell during the presentation. The company’s approach bucks the dominant trend among East Coast utilities, which have otherwise partnered with private developers to add offshore wind energy to their portfolios.”

11-1-19 NRDC. Virginia: Remember, and Protect, Union Hill. “Dominion Energy was in court again on Tuesday for its unnecessary Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is proposed for Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia and would cross the Appalachian Trail as well as several historic and vulnerable communities. The case highlights what has long been known—and ignored—by regulators: the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a textbook case of environmental injustice.”

11-1-19 S&P Global. In face of litigation, Dominion reiterates Atlantic Coast Pipeline timeline, cost estimate. ” Despite ongoing federal environmental litigation, Dominion Energy expects to complete the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on its previously released timeline, with full project construction resuming by the end of 2020, and with full commissioning of the project in early 2022, company officials said Friday. In the company’s third-quarter 2019 earnings conference call, Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Farrell also said that the company does not anticipate that the court cases would add to the estimated $7.3 billion to $7.8 billion cost of the 600-mile, 1.5 Bcf/d natural gas pipeline project.”


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