Should Dominion Get a 2-Year Extension? NO!

The certificate issued on October 13, 2017 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granting Dominion authority to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) expires on October 13, 2020. Under that certificate, NO construction is allowable after that date.

Dominion, of course, has only a few miles of the ACP actually built and in the ground, so they have asked FERC for a two-year extension. If FERC denies the extension, the ACP is dead, as it should be.

On June 17, 2020, FERC published a Notice of Request for Extension of Time, noting Dominion’s request, and establishing a 15-day intervention and comment period deadline, and saying, “Any person wishing to comment on Atlantic’s and DETI’s request for an extension of time may do so.” This means you must submit comments before 5:00 pm Eastern Time on July 2, 2020.

In their Notice, FERC says, “The Commission strongly encourages electronic filings of comments, protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and three copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20426.”

Submit your comments to FERC asking them to DENY Dominion’s request for an extension!  Cite the ACP docket number in your comments, CP15-554.

Some talking points  (and see also the Friends of Nelson slide show below on 10 Reasons to Oppose the ACP):

  • The delays that Dominion cites as causing them to require more time are self-inflicted and result from their own failures to do due diligence in collecting valid data during the permitting process and responding in a reasonable, responsible fashion to environmental and other concerns that opponents to the Pipeline have raised in a timely fashion. These failures have, in several cases, led the courts to label their efforts as arbitrary and capricious. If Dominion had, from the get-go, done a credible job of route selection, and thorough data-collection surveys, as well as following these up with sound analysis, and responding promptly and reasonably to legitimate environmental and other concerns that were raised, they would not now find it necessary to beg for more time.
  • FERC has recently committed itself to changing its policies with the goal of making them more fair and equitable to landowners. There is no justifiable and consistent reason to continue to hold landowners in ongoing limbo over the fate of their property.
  • Increased understanding of the impact of climate change, both globally and locally, has made it clear that we are called upon to respond without further delay by weaning ourselves away from the use of all fossil fuels, and especially those that contribute to the release of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than C02, into the environment.
  • Costs associated with the project have ballooned over the intervening period by several billion dollars. The longer this is allowed to continue, the more ratepayers will have to fight to avoid being charged to cover these exorbitant, wasteful project expenses.
  • The Virginia Clean Economy Act that became law earlier this year requires Dominion to shut down all of its existing gas-fired power plants by 2045, and the utility has itself stated to Virginia regulators that the build-out of new gas-fired power plants (the original justification of need for the project) is no longer “viable” in the current climate. Due to the evolving energy market, as well as the increased competitiveness of other transmission projects, the project looks more and more like an obsolete effort that is more and more likely to leave investors, as well as ratepayers, liable for a huge stranded “asset”.
  • In view of all these considerations, FERC shouldn’t be thinking about extending the time for the construction of the Pipeline. Instead, it should be reconsidering its determination that the Pipeline is required by the public convenience and necessity, especially in light of significant changes to the region’s energy landscape and new information about the project’s environmental impacts.

For all of these reasons, the Commission should allow this ill-conceived and ill-executed project to die a natural death at such time as its deadline for completion expires.

Send your comments to FERC before 5:00 pm Eastern Time on July 2, 2020.  Cite docket number CP15-554.  Tell them NOT to give Dominion a two year extension!