October 2019 News

October 2019

10-30-19 Virginia Mercury. Dominion’s green energy package comes with a catch: coal. Businesses aren’t happy. “Dominion Energy’s newest plan for a renewable energy package that environmentally conscious customers can buy is causing some big businesses, including Walmart, to push back against what they call ‘an unattractive offering.’ Why? Companies and an industry group that represents some of Virginia’s and the nation’s largest employers have two complaints. First, the portfolio of renewable energy resources assembled by Dominion includes numerous carbon-emitting facilities, some decades old, including one in Southwest Virginia that derives 93 percent of its energy from coal and is listed by Dominion on its website as a coal asset. Second, if the utility succeeds in winning approval for its plan, that will deal a blow to the state’s fledgling renewable energy market, leaving nowhere else for most customers in the commonwealth to turn if they want to buy renewables.”

10-30-19 Motley Fool. This High-Yield Utility Just Raised $2 Billion. “Dominion Energy (NYSE:D) is one of the largest utilities in the United States. It also has one of the highest dividend yields in the sector at around 4.4%. That isn’t a market oddity — investors have looked at the utility’s balance sheet and correctly surmised that Dominion has a leverage problem. That said, the U.S. utility giant is working hard to fix that. Here’s the lowdown on what’s going on, including a recent deal that will result in a $2 billion cash inflow. There’s no way to sugarcoat Dominion’s current financial state. Its financial debt to equity ratio isn’t out of line with those of its closest peers at around 0.65 times. However, its financial debt to EBITDA ratio of more than 6.5 times is well above those of similarly sized utilities. Meanwhile, as you might expect, its ability to pay its interest expenses is among the weakest of its peers, with the company sporting a times interest earned ratio of less than two. And, to add to the list of problems, its payout ratio in 2019 is expected to be close to 90%, compared to an average of around 70% for peers.”

10-29-19 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Under questioning by 4th Circuit at pipeline hearing, state concedes Union Hill’s racial status. “[A]n attorney for the State Air Pollution Control Board conceded in federal court Tuesday that Union Hill, a community established by freed slaves in Buckingham County after the Civil War, is indeed overwhelmingly populated by African Americans. Deputy Solicitor General Martine Cicconi made the concession under sharp questioning by Chief Judge Roger Gregory in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It came during a hearing on the legality of an air pollution permit the state board issued in January for a natural gas compressor station on the site of a former plantation where the forebears of some Union Hill residents worked as slaves. The outcome remains uncertain, but two environmental organizations’ appeal of the state air permit represents yet another hurdle at the 4th Circuit for the 600-mile, $7.75 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

10-29-19 Virginia Mercury. At compressor station hearing, sharp questions on environmental justice. “Virginia state agencies and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline came under sharp questioning by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond Tuesday concerning whether environmental justice concerns had been adequately heard in a controversial decision to site a compressor station in the predominantly African American community of Union Hill. Repeatedly, Chief Judge Roger Gregory pushed attorneys representing the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the State Air Pollution Control Board and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to explain why the state compared air quality in Union Hill to air quality around the state rather than in surrounding Buckingham County to determine whether the compressor station would have a disproportionate impact on the community. ‘Environmental justice is dealing with people who live and who are impacted,’ said Gregory. ‘The people who live in the county, I’d think you’d start there.'”

10-27-19 WV Metro News. Expenses and delays continue for Mountain Valley Pipeline, where work has halted again. “Mountain Valley Pipeline, one of the major construction projects crossing West Virginia, has extended the timetable and price for its expected completion. The pipeline’s developers announced last week that construction now isn’t expected to concluded until late next year at a cost of $5.3 to $5.5 billion because key aspects of the giant project have been challenged by federal regulators and in the court system. The original cost estimate when work began in February 2018 was $3.7 billion. The original estimated completion date was the fourth quarter of 2019 — now. …. Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s cost has boomed up to $7.75 billion, up an extra $3 billion from original estimate. And construction of Atlantic Coast is about two years behind schedule, with completion not expected until late 2021.”

10-26-19 Blue Virginia. New “Climate in the Boardroom” Report: Dominion Energy Needs “independent chair policy to provide additional oversight” “Thanks to Activate Virginia for the ‘heads up’ on this new report, by Majority Action (‘a non-profit, non-partisan organization that empowers shareholders to hold corporations accountable to high standards of corporate governance, social responsibility, and long-term value creation’), posted earlier this month at the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, entitled ‘Climate in the Boardroom.’ …. [O]ne of the ’28 companies with critical climate resolutions’ noted in this report was none other than our old friends at Dominion Energy.”

10-25-19 Virginia Mercury. Virginia is again at the center of a major civil rights battle: Once again, it’s on the wrong side. “On Tuesday [October 28, 2019], the 4th Circuit will hold oral arguments in Richmond on the Union Hill case. The Lawyers Committee brief is one of three friend-of-the-court briefs filed in support of Union Hill. A second brief was signed by 28 members of the Virginia General Assembly, the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP and the Center for Earth Ethics. A third brief was filed on behalf of the Sierra Club, the Kairos Center and Union Grove Baptist Church, which is one of the two historic African-American churches located in the heart of Union Hill — within a mile of the proposed compressor station. Dominion Energy chose Union Hill over a nearby alternative location it bought that is larger, more sparsely populated and predominantly white. That fits the national pattern highlighted in Fumes Across the Fence-Line. …. Dominion bet that Union Hill would go silently into the night. Dominion bet wrong.”

10-25-19 Bloomberg. After Decades of Fracking, We Finally Know How the Fluid Spreads Underground. “Given how profound an effect hydraulic fracturing has had on the U.S. economically in recent years, it can come something of a shock to discover how little we know about it. Blasting water, sand and chemicals into shale rock formations deep underground has unlocked vast hydrocarbon reserves previously considered almost impossible to exploit. Over the past decade, fracking, as the technique is also known, has transformed the country into the world’s largest oil producer, adding supply equal to all the black gold pumped by Saudi Arabia. It has remade America as an exporter both of crude and natural gas, something once unthinkable. It’s also sparked controversy over environmental concerns that have long dogged the industry. Fracking has been blamed for causing earthquakes in Oklahoma and poisoning groundwater in Pennsylvania. New York and Vermont have banned it. Much of the controversy is driven by mystery surrounding the fracking fluid itself. Oil-services giant Schlumberger Ltd. once described fracking as employing “brute force and ignorance.” But for the first time, we have a clear picture of how the fluid used in fracking travels underground.” [Article has interesting graphics]

10-22-19 WSLS10. Local woman wins national award for conservation efforts. “A local woman has won a national award that brings with it money to help maintain the beauty of the Appalachian Trail. Diana Christopulos is the national winner of $60,000 in total grant money, which she will hand over to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to go toward conservation efforts in Virginia. She takes the top prize of the 2019 National Cox Conserves Heroes program, announced Tuesday.”

10-22-19 Roanoke Times. Another delay, cost increase for Mountain Valley Pipeline. “The projected cost of building the Mountain Valley Pipeline has gone up by another half a billion dollars. And the expected completion date, most recently slated for mid-2020, has been pushed back to the end of that year. In an announcement Tuesday, Mountain Valley attributed the latest delay and revised cost estimate — now at between $5.3 billion and $5.5 billion — to ‘various legal and regulatory challenges.'”

10-22-19 Roanoke Times. Reynolds: Virginia chambers should renounce pipelines. “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce … announced that it was forming a climate change task force to ascertain just how their members and consumer/customers are positively responding to the huge global challenge of mitigating the horrendous consequences to humanity and Mother Earth of rapidly advancing climate change. Here’s a more urgent message to Barry DuVal, President and CEO Virginia Chamber, the Northam Administration and regional chambers across the state: Given the recent actions by your national chamber, yet shackled with your tone-deaf and vision-less unmitigated support of the private profit Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines, it is regrettable that your organizations are clearly out-of-step with the global mobilization to fight the problem of our changing climate. Global implementation of ‘renewable energy’ to replace fossil-fuels and their associated environmentally damaging pipeline infrastructure is the new energy economic redevelopment driver of our generation, yet your statewide chambers remain firmly lodged in the past, in lieu of embracing the state and region’s economic future.”

10-22-19 Natural Gas Intel. Federal Pipeline Permitting Process Overdue for Renovation, Insiders Say. “The federal natural gas pipeline permitting process favors either the industry, or landowners and environmental groups, depending on who you listen to, but one thing both sides seem to agree on is that process hasn’t kept up with the changing energy landscape. FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said in opening the Envision Forum in Lexington, KY, Monday that he wanted ‘candid, frank, passionate discussions’ about energy issues facing the United States and its international partners, and he certainly got them as members of a panel skirmished from separate sides of the pipeline permitting issue.”

10-21-19 Nation of Change. Natural gas vs. renewable energy: Beware the latest gas industry talking points. “The natural gas industry is on an aggressive public relations tear to convince Americans that for decades to come, it is the ‘bridge’ between coal and renewable energy. …. It is no coincidence that the PR blitz comes amid an avalanche of unfavorable developments that should make us question whether natural gas should still be considered a natural choice for power generation. …. With the plummeting costs of renewable energy now calling even the modest benefit of natural gas into question, along with its risky methods and risks to the climate, it should be debated whether gas should be called ‘natural’ at all. What we do know is that the industry is trying to lead us blindfolded towards its imaginary bridge. When the blindfold is taken off, the so-called bridge is likely to look more like a chasm, with clouds of dust rising from the rubble of stranded assets.”

10-21-19 N.C. State University Technician Online. Opinion: Atlantic Coast Pipeline is an energy pipedream. “As with the other pipelines, activists in opposition to the project raise concerns over environmentally damaging leaks, as well as the project’s capacity to make fossil fuel mining more economical. Meanwhile, proponents assert that access to gas will boost industry in a rural area, and that gas is an effective “bridge fuel” to transition from coal to carbon-free sources. In general, both arguments are sound and invoke a richer discussion about how to balance the economic needs of present people with our descendants. However, for the case of the ACP, arguments in favor fail to fully capture the specific harms this project would likely create. …. For the ACP, high costs and dubious climate benefits indicate that it may not be the low-carbon industry-grower we were promised.”

10-21-19 Roanoke Times. Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline is winding down. “Winter is coming early for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Although construction is winding down for the season, it’s not just because of the coming freezing temperatures that will make it difficult to dig trenches along mountain slopes for the buried natural gas pipeline. Even if it was being built in the tropics, this project would be stalled. Mountain Valley has lost three sets of key permits — all suspended because of the pipeline’s impact on the environment — that have fallen like slow-motion dominoes for a project that was supposed to be done by now.”

10-20-19 Post and Courier [Charleston SC]. Editorial: Will SC need gas pipeline like it needed abandoned coal, nuclear plants? “In 2007, Santee Cooper said it would run out of electricity to power Myrtle Beach within five years if it didn’t build a $1.2 billion coal plant on the Great Pee Dee River. The next year, SCE&G and Santee Cooper said they wouldn’t be able to keep powering most of South Carolina unless they built two new nuclear reactors in Fairfield County. The year after that, Santee Cooper acknowledged that, well, no, it didn’t really need the coal plant after all. It walked away from the nascent project after spending $242 million. And in 2017, after spending $9 billion on the unfinished reactors, Santee Cooper and SCE&G walked away from them as well, citing massive cost overruns and delays — and a precipitous drop in current and projected energy demand. …. [I]t’s important to keep our expensive recent history in mind as Dominion, the S.C. Chamber of Commerce and the S.C. Manufacturers Alliance start laying the groundwork to argue that we have to have another natural gas pipeline extended through South Carolina to meet our future energy needs. …. It might turn out that we really do need additional natural gas capacity. Or it might turn out that we need another natural-gas pipeline about as much as we needed the coal plant and the nuclear reactors.”

10-18-19 WSET13.com. Dominion Energy to power all state-owned buildings, facilities with solar and wind energy. “State-owned buildings and facilities in Virginia will soon be powered with solar and wind energy under a new agreement between the Commonwealth and Dominion Energy. According to a press release, the agreement represents the largest procurement of renewable energy by a state to meet its own renewable energy needs, a significant step in accepting Governor Ralph Northam’s challenge to power state government with clean energy sources.”

10-18-19 WRAL.com [NC]  Investigators plan Atlantic Coast Pipeline questioning in November. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will take center stage again at the statehouse next month when private investigators plan a public questioning of key Cooper administration officials about the pipeline permitting process. It’s been a back-and-forth political fight to get here, with Gov. Roy Cooper and his leadership team accusing the Republican-controlled legislature of dragging out a sham investigation to score political points. Republicans say they want to know what the administration promised Duke Energy and other pipeline partners before announcing, on the same day, the pipeline’s key state permit and a $58 million fund the governor would have controlled.”

10-16-19 Washington Post. Letter: Virginians will defeat the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Regarding the Oct. 5 Metro article ‘High court to hear Va. pipeline dispute’: Can Virginia resist the Atlantic Coast Pipeline? Yes, we will. …. Protesters have stymied the project, allowing the zeitgeist to shift in our favor. Our children are flooding the streets to save their future as politicians pledge to refuse Dominion’s influence. Even if the Supreme Court sides with Dominion on this case, the project faces myriad court challenges. The improving profitability of renewable energy sources counters Dominion’s moral bankruptcy as it is now planning wind infrastructure on a significant scale. The people will win.”

10-15-19 Houston Chronicle. Has the peak of the shale revolution come and gone? “The shale revolution transformed the United States into the world’s biggest producer of oil and natural gas in a little more than a decade. But now the industry is facing the prospect that the shale boom has peaked and the best days are behind it as drilling activity declines, jobs dwindle, and many of the prime oil-producing spots are depleted. Shale’s future is still a matter of debate, but there’s little doubt the energy sector has suffered through a weak 2019 with a more challenging 2020 on the horizon amid middling oil prices, abundant supplies, rising bankruptcies, growing climate change concerns and historically low Wall Street sentiment. The trends are dire enough that energy analysts at the New York investment research firm Evercore ISI this month declared, ‘The oil “shale revolution” is over. Finally.'”

10-15-19 PaintSquare. Pipeline Acceleration Plans Backfire. “The current administration’s attempts to fast-track energy projects, namely pipelines, have been met with increasing levels of resistance, according to reports. Most recently, plans for three of the biggest pipeline projects have taken a hit, resulting in delays and increased costs totaling millions of dollars. According to Reuters, the delays apply to two gas pipelines—Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley—as well as the crude oil Keystone XL pipeline that would start in Canada.”

10-14-19 NC Policy Watch. Governor’s office agrees to allow employees to publicly answer lawmakers’ questions about Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Employees from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office soon could publicly testify before lawmakers about details of a voluntary $57.8 million mitigation fund involving the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The employees could appear before a subcommittee as early as the week of Nov. 4.”

10-14-19 The State [SC]. Mud pollution clogged a drinking water system. Now, Dominion Energy is in hot water. “Since acquiring one of South Carolina’s major power companies this year, Dominion Energy has worked to improve the negative image SCE&G had developed for high electricity bills and a failed nuclear project. But Dominion, a Virginia-headquartered energy giant, recently had to explain why the company’s pipeline division broke South Carolina’s pollution control law when it let muddy, sediment-filled water run into a creek and an Upstate river that thousands of people rely on for drinking water.”

10-11-19 Washington Post. Appeals court puts Mountain Valley Pipeline permits on hold. “A federal appeals court has put a hold on two permits needed for construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday issued a stay of permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service while it reviews a lawsuit filed by environmental groups in August. The Sierra Club said in a statement Friday that the suspension effectively means that construction must stop on the 300-mile natural gas project. …. The lawsuit alleges that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s approval of the project failed to adequately protect endangered species along the pipeline’s path.”

10-11-19 Virginia Mercury. On energy efficiency, unfortunately, utilities remain in the driver’s seat. “Virginia consumers share in the benefits of federal energy-saving programs for lighting, appliances and other equipment (advances that are now under attack from the Trump administration). These national standards, pretty much painless for consumers, have kept residential electricity usage from growing even as the population grows. Yet Virginia makes little effort to build on these savings, and it shows. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranks Virginia 29th in the nation overall in its 2019 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard; in the narrower category of electricity savings, Virginia came in a dismal 47th.”

10-11-19 Virginia Mercury. Mountain Valley Pipeline agrees to pay Virginia $2.15 million for environmental violations. “Virginia and Mountain Valley Pipeline have resolved a lawsuit brought by the state against the company for environmental violations that caused significant erosion in the southwestern part of the commonwealth, with the natural gas pipeline developer agreeing to pay a $2.15 million civil penalty. The payment was described by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring as ‘one of the most significant financial penalties ever imposed in Virginia for this kind of case.’ Under the terms of the consent decree, the Henrico Circuit Court, where Virginia’s original suit was filed, assumes supervision of Mountain Valley Pipeline’s compliance with state environmental laws, a move that broadens the range of consequences the company will face in the event of violations.” [Similar articles appeared in the Daily Progress and Roanoke Times.]

10-11-19 Washington Post. Will Virginians be able to resist the Atlantic Coast Pipeline? “Backers of projects like the pipeline frame [the Supreme Courth consideration of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s effort to cross the Appalachian Trail] as a chance to get the government out of the way of private industry operating for a public good (energy independence). But for people in central Virginia, the push for a pipeline is a story of government interference, part of a century of struggle between government authorities and vulnerable populations that have been displaced from the land. …. Urban and rural communities alike have their own collective memories of the encroachment of government-backed industry. Those memories are reflected in the diverse coalition that has come together to fight the pipeline.”

10-10-19 WFAE [NC]  Experts’ Letter Asks Gov. To Halt Construction Of New Gas Plants And Pipelines. “A Duke University climate scientist and 27 former federal environmental officials are calling on Gov. Roy Cooper to order a halt on building new gas pipelines and power plants in North Carolina. In a letter to the governor Thursday, Duke earth sciences professor Drew Shindell and the former officials said carbon from burned natural gas and leaking methane from wells and pipelines contributes to climate change and endangers public health and the economy.”

10-9-19 Reuters. Trump’s fast-tracking of oil pipelines hits legal roadblocks. “The Trump administration’s effort to cut red tape and speed up major energy projects has backfired in the case of the three biggest U.S. pipelines now planned or under construction. All three have been stalled by successful legal challenges by environmental groups alleging the administration failed to apply the regulatory scrutiny required under the law. The Republican administration tried to accelerate permits for two multi-billion-dollar natural gas lines and jumpstart the long-stalled Keystone XL crude oil pipeline that would start in Canada. Judges halted construction on all three over the past two years, ruling that the administration granted permits without conducting adequate studies or providing enough alternatives to protect endangered species or national forests. The delays have caused the two giant gas pipelines – Dominion Energy Inc’s Atlantic Coast and EQM Midstream Partners LP’s Mountain Valley – to increase their cost estimates by hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the companies.”

10-9-19 Wall Street Journal. Natural-Gas Producers Hard Hit by Tanking Prices. “Dragged down by a supply glut, U.S. natural-gas futures recently suffered their longest losing streak since at least 1990, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The front-month gas futures contract fell 12 consecutive trading sessions through Oct. 2, a period in which it declined around 16%. Prices are down 30% from their levels a year ago. ‘We are viewing today’s selling as the beginning of a more sustained price decline,’ trade advisory Ritterbusch & Associates told clients in a note late Monday. Analysts with Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co., an energy focused investment bank, warned clients recently that gas might fall below $2 per million British thermal units before prices hit a floor.”

10-8-19 E&E Energywire. Supreme Court deals blow to ‘quick take’ challenges. “The Supreme Court’s decision to reject a challenge to the Mountain Valley natural gas project could signal the end of the road for disputes over an unusual quirk in pipeline eminent domain procedures — at least for now. Legal experts see few immediate avenues for landowners to continue to fight the use of “quick take,” a process that allows pipeline companies to begin building on private land before paying for access. The issue was central to Givens v. Mountain Valley Pipeline, a landowner lawsuit over the 300-mile pipeline through West Virginia and Virginia that the high court tossed yesterday. Those property owners will now go through trials over compensation, but the justices’ rejection leaves little additional recourse on the quick take issue, said attorney Chris Johns, who spearheaded the attempt at a Supreme Court review.”

10-8-19 LttleSis.  Dominion PR Director Spins Through Revolving Door into Northam Administration. “Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced last week that Grant Neely will become his new Communications Chief. Neely has been the Director of Strategic Communications for Dominion Energy since August 2016. Dominion is an energy utility that is one of the most powerful corporate forces in Virginia. The appointment reinforces concerns over the revolving door between Dominion and state governments and potential conflicts of interests of government officials regarding Dominion, which is pushing the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a proposed 600-mile fracked gas pipeline that would run through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Neely is not new to the revolving door between industry and government. Before going to work for Dominion in 2016, Neely was chief of staff to Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones. He resigned from the Jones administration to go work for Dominion as the company’s media point person. Neely will now serve in an administration that has regulatory oversight over his immediate former employer. This comes at a time when Dominion’s power and influence has come under increasing scrutiny.”

10-7-19 Then New Republic. The Next Standing Rock Is Everywhere. “The fight to stave off pipeline projects across the country is being led by tribal nations and marginalized communities. It’s time to listen to them before it’s too late. …. Demographically, Robeson County [NC], which the ACP will cut through, is 40 percent Native. But it’s also 25 percent black and 33 percent white, standing out as both one of the most diverse counties in America and the poorest and most unhealthy in North Carolina. The ACP’s northern route also cuts through black communities throughout Virginia, with ACP developers proposing a compressor station in Buckingham County, a rural community that was settled by free blacks and former slaves following the Civil War. Speaking with Energy News Network, 75-year-old Ella Rose [from Union Hill], who recalled nostalgically the whippoorwills that fill the trees of her childhood, was candid when asked why ACP developers chose her town. ‘I do believe that this location was selected because we are African Americans,’ Rose said. ‘People need to know our lives count, too […] I feel abandoned by a process that does not serve me. This pipeline is intruding on our life and we’re not benefiting at all.'”

10-7-19 E&E Energywire. What to watch in the Appalachian Trail pipeline fight. “Parties on either side of a newly picked Supreme Court case on the Atlantic Coast pipeline see starkly different consequences of justices weighing in on the legal conflict. …. Critics of the 4th Circuit decision —the pipeline developers, a coalition of states and other industry groups —see a ruling by the Supreme Court as having significant repercussions for natural gas pipelines on the East Coast by potentially making the Appalachian Trail a barrier to pipeline development. Some groups argued the decision could also have ripple effects for public lands management across the country. But environmental groups and others supporting the 4th Circuit decision say it would not be the only impediment to a pipeline already stymied by revoked permits and inadequate environmental assessments by the federal government. They warn the case was not ready for the justices to consider. They also say the ruling does not prevent pipeline developers from rerouting the project on state or private land, though that would delay the project and make it much more expensive.”

10-4-19 Washington Post. U.S. Supreme Court to hear case of gas pipeline seeking to cross Appalachian Trail in Va. “The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether a lower court was correct to block a major natural gas pipeline from crossing underneath the Appalachian Trail in the mountains of Virginia. The high court’s intervention could remove a barrier for construction of the $7.5 billion, 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which has been halted for nearly a year because of various permitting woes. Builders of the pipeline, led by primary stakeholder Dominion Energy, and the Trump administration appealed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit that said the U.S. Forest Service lacked authority to grant a permit to tunnel under the popular hiking trail. …. Environmental groups who brought the original challenge to the permit vowed to continue fighting. ‘We will defend the lower court’s decision in this case,’ the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Sierra Club said in a joint statement. ‘The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a dangerous, costly, and unnecessary project and we won’t stand by while Duke and Dominion Energy try to force it on our public lands, threatening people’s health, endangered species, iconic landscapes, and clean water along the way.'” [This story appeared in many, many other media outlets.]

10-3-19 Energy and Policy Institute. Dominion buys pipeline support at Supreme Court through GOP Attorneys General. “With the US Supreme Court poised to decide this month whether it will review a ruling key to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s future, majority-owner of the project Dominion Energy has received support in its case from Republican state Attorneys General and the US Department of Justice. Both US Attorney General William Barr and the state Attorneys General have close financial ties to the utility – including through a GOP group that funneled millions to one key proponent. Barr served on Dominion’s Board of Directors from 2009 until his confirmation as Attorney General in February of this year.”

10-2-19 Inside Climate News. Courts Question Pipeline Builders’ Use of Eminent Domain to Take Land. “A recent federal court ruling could give states more authority to oppose natural gas pipeline projects by limiting the controversial use of eminent domain—the mandatory sale of private or state-owned land for public use. That ruling and two others involving eminent domain come amid growing opposition to pipeline projects, whose benefits to the public and risks to the environment and climate are increasingly being questioned. As the Trump administration tries to clear the way for more fossil fuel pipeline construction, a diverse coalition of environmental advocates and landowners are gaining traction in their efforts to fight new pipeline projects by focusing on property rights. They argue that pipeline developers should not be allowed to take land through eminent domain because the developers are private companies and the shipment of oil or gas shouldn’t be considered a public use or benefit.”

10-2-19 Washington Post. The Energy 202: Trump breaks with tradition by tapping only a Republican for key energy panel. “President Trump finally chose a new Republican commissioner for a key panel of federal energy regulators. But he did so without naming a Democrat to go with him, setting off a potential battle with Senate Democrats over the future of renewable energy and gas pipeline projects across the country. On Monday, the White House announced the president intends to nominate James Danly to be a commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Danly, a Republican, currently serves as the panel’s general counsel and would fill a vacancy left by the death in January of former FERC chairman Kevin J. McIntyre. If confirmed by the Senate, Danly would serve until 2023. But Trump’s White House broke with decades-old tradition by not nominating a Democrat along with Danly, provoking the ire of Senate Democrats who charge Trump with potentially tilting the balance of the normally bipartisan commission.”

10-1-19 Preserve Craig. MVP Filed False Data to Get Permits. “Preserve Craig filed a powerful new motion in September, asking that all pipeline construction work be halted until faulty core data is corrected. The motion documented that the underlying information Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) originally filed was fundamentally flawed and must be redone or serious damage will continue to occur if the project is built as designed. MVP responded that the motion should be dismissed on procedural grounds, notably ignoring the factual issues. Today Preserve Craig and the twelve neighboring county organizations that joined in the original motion to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) replied with harsh criticism of MVP and pointed to the proven damage and continuing risks to our water unless the original motion is granted. It asks that FERC coordinate with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps), to direct Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC (MVP) to undertake revised analysis of changes to peak stormwater discharge due to construction of the MVP in accordance with scientifically accepted methods.”