The multi-state, $8 billion Atlantic Coast pipeline has been canceled due to uncertainties about costs, permitting and litigation, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy announced this weekend.
Despite the developers winning a U.S. Supreme Court case over a critical permit last month, the energy companies said “recent developments have created an unacceptable layer of uncertainty and anticipated delays.”
According to the release, a recent pair of court rulings threw the permitting program used to approve oil and gas pipelines nationwide into question, stating that it presented “new and serious challenges.”
“This new information and litigation risk, among other continuing execution risks, make the project too uncertain to justify investing more shareholder capital,” said the companies.
When the natural gas project was announced in 2014, it received heavy backlash from landowners, activists and environmental advocates alike, who argued the pipeline would harm wildlife and damage landscapes. In order to build the project, tree removal and leveling of some ridgetops would be necessary so the pipe, which is 42 inches in diameter, could cross through mountains, bodies of water and other sensitive terrain, including underneath the Appalachian Trail.
“If anyone still had questions about whether or not the era of fracked gas was over, this should answer them. Today is a historic victory for clean water, the climate, public health, and our communities,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in response to the announcement.
Critics questioned whether or not there was a sufficient need for the natural gas the pipeline would carry and said the pipeline’s existence would further encourage the use of fossil fuels during a time when climate change makes the shift to renewable energy more important than ever.
The project was delayed for years due to lawsuits introduced by environmental groups, causing numerous permits to be dismissed and suspended. The delays made the cost rise from an estimated $4.5 billion to $5 billion.
It has been reported on numerous occasions that the Trump Administration has crafted policies to allow oil and gas companies to operate on public lands to allow them pay lower royalties. Solar and wind companies did not receive that privilege. Renewable energy companies were served with large multilayer bills for rent that did not reflect their repeated requests for adjustment.
Dominion, headquartered in Richmond, announced that it agreed to sell “substantially all” of its gas and storage segment assets, which includes more than 7,700 miles of natural gas storage and transmission pipelines and about 900 billion cubic feet of gas storage, to an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.