Press Release from the Southern Environmental Law Center
For Immediate Release: Monday, July 6, 2020
Charlottesville, VA — After winning legal battles in the courts, federal agencies, and Congress, the Southern Environmental Law Center and its clients that include fifteen Virginia, North Carolina, and national conservation groups can now say the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will not be built. Yesterday, developers Dominion and Duke Energy announced they are abandoning the $8 billion dollar, 600-mile long pipeline due to “legal uncertainty.”
This is a victory for all communities and natural areas in the path of the pipeline—countless farms, rugged national forests, thousands of rivers and streams, and historic African-American and Native American communities.
This victory also has reverberations for all Virginians and North Carolinians who are looking forward to an economy that is based on clean energy, not the burden of paying for an $8 billion pipeline that would tie the region to fossil fuels.
“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline was an anvil that would have stymied investment in renewable energy for decades, harmed vulnerable communities, and crushed mountainsides,” said Greg Buppert, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “But now this risky and unnecessary project is on the scrap heap where it belongs, and the decks are cleared. Virginia and North Carolina can embrace a clean energy future, and people all along the route can finally rest.”
This Herculean effort—one of very few instances in which citizen groups have successfully stopped a gas pipeline—was possible because of the strength and determination of clients like Friends of Buckingham who fought for the rights of the Union Hill community to a healthy environment. Friends of Buckingham conducted a community research study, filed countless comments and finally went to court to prove their community matters.
“I am so thankful first of all to the Lord for being with us in these trials we were going through with ACP and Dominion. I was so elated, when I first heard the news from one of my fellow activists. I am also thankful for everyone who stood by and supported the Union Hill community. We could not have done it without all of you. Thank you so very much,” said Friends of Buckingham councilmember, Ruby Laury.
It was also possible because of the formation of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA), a coalition of over 50 organizations in Virginia and West Virginia that came together in 2014 to oppose the ACP. For almost six years, ABRA members met regularly to discuss pipeline issues, plan strategy, and investigate the expected harm from the project. At the forefront of those efforts was ABRA’s focus on protecting the steep, forested mountains of the central Appalachians from destruction. Many clients of SELC are active ABRA members.
“Good riddance to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline! The purported “need” for the ACP was never justified and had it been built, long-term environmental damage would have occurred along its route. The stockholders and ratepayers of Dominion and Duke should be grateful that they have been spared the financial burden of a project that should have never been undertaken in the first place,” said Lew Freeman of Highlanders for Responsible Development and Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance.
Over the last six years, SELC has been honored to represent a dedicated and tireless group of conservation organizations opposed to the pipeline: Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, Cowpasture River Preservation Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of Buckingham, Friends of Nelson, Jackson River Preservation Association, Highlanders for Responsible Development, Piedmont Environmental Council, Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc., Shenandoah Riverkeeper, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Sierra Club, Sound Rivers, Inc., Virginia Wilderness Committee, and Winyah Rivers Foundation.
For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With more than 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org