The developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have reportedly announced that they intend to cancel their multi-state natural gas project. It is being speculated that the cancellation has been due to the increasing cost ambiguity and delays in the times of COVID-19.
For the uninitiated, the project had initially been announced around 5-6 years ago, in 2014. Back then, it had drawn considerable criticism, having been at the receiving end of the opposition from a coalition of activists, environmental advocates, landowners, and the like., who claimed that the project is likely to destroy the wildlife and pristine landscapes in the area. Further questions were raised regarding the usage of a fossil fuel in times when the necessity to shift to renewable resources in the light of climate change is becoming paramount.
Environmental groups had also brought out legal challenges which had left the project hanging for a while, leading to a delay in construction. The delays also increased the proposed capital to USD 5 billion from USD 4.5 billion.
In a joint statement, Tom Farrell, CEO, Dominion Energy, and Lynn Good, CEO, Duke Energy, claimed that the announcement to cancel the project is a reflection of the rising legal uncertainty plaguing the growth of large-scale industrial infrastructural development and energy projects in the United States. The ability to fulfill the nation’s energy requirement will be significantly challenged till the time these issues are resolved, they added.
However, the cancellation of the project seems to have positive reactions from its opponents, who have lauded the decision to cancel it. Michael Town, Executive Director, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, has been quoted to state that the project’s cancellation is an important victory for Virginia’s environment, as well as for environmental justice. It also proves the power of grassroots action, and how the effort of hundreds of determined, frontline advocates that have continued to fight against the project, have borne fruit, he adds.