The Raleigh News & Observer Speaks Out: The ACP Pipeline is Wrong for North Carolina

by Duane Nichols on November 22, 2017

The proposed ACP route through North Carolina

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will slow conversion to more renewable energy

From an EDITORIAL of The Editorial Board, Raleigh News & Observer, November 18, 2017

More renewable energy, not a new Atlantic Coast Pipeline, is the best path for energy development.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is being touted as a vital supply line for economic development in eastern North Carolina, but it also would contribute to a major threat to the flood-prone region by exacerbating climate change.

The 600-mile natural gas pipeline is planned to run from West Virginia’s natural gas fields through Virginia and North Carolina. The $6 billion project backed by Charlotte-based Duke Energy and Richmond-based Dominion Resources is moving steadily through a thicket of federal and state requirements and its developers expect to complete the permitting process by mid-December. But disputes over access to local property and legal objections from environmental groups could still stall the massive tree cutting, tunneling and trenching needed for the pipeline.

Such obstacles may be temporary given the resources and political clout of the developers, but they are necessary and welcome. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission failed to allow for a full public assessment of the pipeline before it granted approval. Appeals of that decision by various environmental and consumer advocacy groups will buy time for a fuller assessment of the need for the pipeline, its impact on the land and waterways and the risks it poses to residents who would live near it.

These practical and immediate concerns need to be addressed, but the overarching reason to oppose a new pipeline that would carry 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day is that it takes North Carolina’s and the nation’s energy development in exactly the wrong direction. Money should be poured into the development of renewable energy and the generation of power on site rather than into the pumping in of fossil fuel from hundreds of miles away.

Methane hazards

Representatives of Duke Energy and Dominion Resources acknowledge the need to reduce carbon emissions and say their companies are doing so. They note that coal-fired power plants have been converted to facilities fueled by cleaner burning natural gas, and Duke Energy has made large investments in solar power.

That’s fine, but it’s hardly enough. Natural gas is a cleaner source, but extracting it through hydraulic fracturing leads to extensive leaks of methane, a far more potent heat-trapping gas than than the carbon dioxide that coal plants emit. And while Duke has invested in solar power, renewable energy provides only a small fraction of its overall power generation. Allowing Duke to tap into a huge new supply of natural gas with the costs passed on to ratepayers will only increase the utility’s dependance on natural gas when it should be weaning itself off fossil fuels.

FERC is contributing to this backward path in energy development by allowing rates of return up to 14 percent on the construction of gas pipelines. That means ratepayers could be paying not only for the natural gas, but also for the pipeline that carries it. That makes building the ACP pipeline more attractive to utility shareholders, but it could make ACP gas more expensive than gas from existing pipelines.

Delaying conversion

Representative of Duke Energy and Dominion Resources are pushing the pipeline as a tool for economic development in economically struggling parts of eastern North Carolina. But so far the main customer for the gas in North Carolina would be Duke power plants. By 2032, Duke projects the need for eight additional power plants fueled by natural gas delivered by pipeline to North Carolina.

The pipeline will not be a lifeline for eastern North Carolina. It will instead delay Duke from more urgently converting to renewable sources. This is not a theoretical issue. Eastern North Carolina has felt the flooding from hurricanes intensified by global warming, and it is feeling the encroachment of rising sea levels.

What’s in eastern North Carolina’s best interest with regard to energy sources is the same as what’s in the world’s best interest. Build more wind turbines and solar arrays and encourage the rapidly improving battery technology for storing solar power. Those steps – not running a 50-foot wide swath through eastern North Carolina for the pipeline – represent the best path for the state’s energy future.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline Hansley November 22, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Dear Friends,

North Carolinians stand strong against fracked gas pipeline!

About 80 people filled a public hearing in rural Northampton County last week to say a forceful NO to building a compressor station in their community for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Duke Energy and Dominion Resources have asked for permission to build the station, a critical component of the pipeline infrastructure, on the North Carolina-Virginia border, in an area where more than 79 percent of the population is African-American.

About 30 people signed up to speak about the proposed compressor station, with opponents outnumbering supporters two to one. (The crowd included Barbara Exum of Wilson County No Pipeline.)

The Sierra Club helped anti-pipeline partners with turnout by sending postcards and making phone calls to people who live in the evacuation and blast zones.

Numerous speakers referred to a recent study from the NAACP and the Clean Air Task Force, Fumes Across the Fenceline , that concludes the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would have a greater negative impact on communities of color. You can read more about the study in an article from the News & Observer of Raleigh.

If you’d like to help in the fight against the ACP, you’re welcome to get in touch with Sierra Club organizer Caroline Hansley,


Doug Jackson November 23, 2017 at 12:21 pm


Sierra Club Flotilla Will Show How Atlantic Coast Pipeline Will Affect NC Waterways

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Doug Jackson (media), (202) 495-3045, (252) 432-9716 or

Caroline Hansley (on-site logistics), (828)-808-6151 or

SPRING HOPE, N.C. — North Carolinians and the Sierra Club are organizing a canoe and kayak trip down the Tar River to show residents and media the ways in which Duke Energy’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would negatively affect the state’s waterways. The pipeline would carry fracked gas from West Virginia through eight North Carolina Counties, crossing over 560 creeks, rivers, and wetlands before stopping in Robeson County. Similar pipelines, like the Rover in Ohio, Michigan, and West Virginia, have caused one disaster after another, including drilling fluid spills and water violations. Over 50 people are expected to form a flotilla less than 1,000 feet from where survey marks show the pipeline will cross the river and participants will raise a banner, red signs and their paddles to take a photo.

Speakers will include Tar-Pamlico Riverkeeper Heather Deck and Marvin Winstead, a local farmer fighting Duke Energy’s expected seizure of his property. Following the event, participants will gather at Chico’s Restaurant in Rocky Mount to talk about the proposed pipeline and its expected effects on waterways.

What: Kayak and canoe flotilla showing how the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline endangers the Tar River and other North Carolina waterways.

When: TODAY, Saturday, August 5th. 9:00 a.m. put-in, expect to arrive at the pipeline crossing point shortly after 9:00a.m. and expected to arrive at Chico’s Mexican Restaurant at 12:30p.m.

Where: Put-in on the Tar River at Old Bailey Highway, Spring Hope, NC. Photo opportunity of the protest on the water less than 1,000 feet from the put-in on the Old Bailey Highway Bridge and from the bridge itself (coordinates: 35.8651984, -78.0098886). Post-paddle conversation at Chico’s Mexican Restaurant, 1701 Sunset Ave, Rocky Mount, NC.

Who: Over 50 local landowners and outdoor enthusiasts, Sierra Club Organizer Caroline Hansley, Tar-Pamlico Riverkeeper Heather Deck and local farmer Marvin Winstead.



Kirk Bowers November 30, 2017 at 3:45 pm

The ACP has more questions in North Carolina

The planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline, already more than a year behind schedule, could face further delays as North Carolina officials once again seek additional information on the project’s potential impacts to the communities the pipeline will traverse.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality on Wednesday sent the pipeline’s developers a fourth round of questions about the economic benefits and environmental risks of the project. The unusual repeat request gives pipeline officials 30 days to respond and gives the agency 60 days to review their response.

The energy consortium building the pipeline includes Charlotte-based Duke Energy and Dominion Energy in Richmond, Va. The proposed 600-mile pipeline would cross West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina to bring natural gas from northern fracking operations to fuel Duke’s power plants in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Duke said the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will submit a responses in less than 30 days. “We’re working on a response to the NC DEQ’s data request and will submit it in short order,” Duke said in a statement. “We don’t expect an impact to the overall project schedule.”

Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Bridget Munger said the answers could spark further inquiries.

“It really will depend on whether they provide the information requested, and once staff has reviewed it, what additional questions they will have,” Munger said of the timeline.

In North Carolina, the project requires an air quality permit to operate a compressor station in Northampton County that will help push the gas through the pipeline. The air quality permit is expected to be issued Dec. 15.

It also requires a water quality permit to allow the underground pipeline to cross several hundred streams, creeks and other bodies of water. This permit hinges on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s responses to the fourth set of questions. The agency is asking for information previously requested but not adequately answered by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The Department of Environmental Quality is looking for details on economic benefits to specific areas along the pipeline’s route, as opposed to generalizations about economic benefits. The agency wants a forecast of future economic conditions with the pipeline and without the pipeline, along with an analysis of the two forecasts, and an explanation of the logic on which the analysis is based.

The agency also wants additional information on the pipeline’s end point, which was originally proposed in Robeson County. Atlantic Coast Pipeline officials later suggested that the pipeline would be extended to South Carolina at some point.

The pipeline review has generated about 15,000 public comments to the Department of Environmental Quality. Additionally, nearly 5,000 public comments missed the agency’s deadline, arriving after the public comment period closed, Munger said.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would bring natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to supply Duke’s natural-gas-fired power plants. The project has received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and is awaiting state permits. More than 40 organizations have appealed the federal permit, saying the project is not necessary and poses environmental risks.


Kirk A Bowers, PE
Virginia Chapter, Sierra Club
Pipelines Program Coordinator
106 George Rogers Road
Charlottesville, VA 22911
Home (434) 296 8673
Cell (434) 249 1439


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