Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) Now Represents “Risk Upon Risk”

by Diana Gooding on March 28, 2019

ACP faces many issues of financing, federal regulations and state laws

New Study Details the Increasing Risks of the ACP

“The ACP is facing a triple threat,” so concludes a new study released March 25 by Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth.

“Atlantic Coast Pipeline – Risk Upon Risk” cites three principal threats to the viability of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline:

1) extensive legal and regulatory challenges that are delaying construction and raising costs;

2) fundamental challenges to its financial viability in the face of lack of growth in domestic demand for methane gas and increased affordability of renewable energy options; and

3) an unprecedented citizen initiative positioned to ensure strict compliance with environmental laws and regulations.

Some further highlights from the six-page study:

• “The ACP is a climate, environmental and human rights boondoggle.”

• “The ACP is facing an onslaught of legal challenges and loss¬es. Seven federal permits have been stayed, suspended or vacated; in fact, all construction on the pipeline is currently stopped. When — or if — construction will start up again is unknown. Environmental groups, Indigenous Peoples and others have brought at least nine court challenges to ACP permits and certifications, most of which are ongoing.”

• “In Dominion’s 2018 long-term Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), four out of five modeled scenarios showed no in¬crease in methane gas consumption for power generation from 2019 through 2033.9 However, in December 2018, this IRP was rejected by Virginia state regulators, in part for overstating projections of future electricity demand.”

• “The most recent IRPs of Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Carolinas also revealed that previously planned methane gas plants have been delayed by at least five years beyond the original proposal, and none have been approved by the state regulator.”

• “Over the next decade, it is likely that the demand for methZane gas in Virginia and North Carolina will decrease further as renewable energy and storage technologies continue to rapidly decline in price and undercut the cost of running methane gas-fired power plants.”

• “If construction proceeds, an unprecedented, highly coordinated science and technology-based Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) is positioned to make sure environmental laws and regulations are strictly applied and enforced during construction. It is spearheaded by the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance and member organizations.”

These challenges and the accompanying risk are likely to further delay construction and raise the project’s price tag even higher. If completed, state utility regulators in North Carolina and Virginia are unlikely to justify passing the full cost of methane gas transportation contracts onto ratepayers.

It would be prudent for investors in Dominion, Duke, and Southern to question whether pursuing the ACP further is a good use of capital. As the transition to clean energy gathers pace, the risks and growing costs of this major methane gas pipeline project look increasingly unwise to ratepayers, regulators and investors alike.

Briefing: Atlantic Coast Pipeline – Risk Upon Risk – Lorne Stockman, Oil Change International


See also: Duke Needs ‘Another Project’ If Atlantic Coast Pipeline Fails, CEO Says – Bloomberg

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

William F. Limpert March 28, 2019 at 11:08 pm

Commentary on “Risk on Risk” ….. March 26, 2019

William F. Limpert says:

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) poses even bigger threats to investors than the current multibillion dollar budget overruns.
It is very possible that the route of the ACP may need to be changed due to court rulings that the pipeline cannot cross the Appalachian Trail in its current proposed location, or cross any part of our national forests. A route change to meet these legal requirements would cover countless miles, would be very expensive, and extremely time consuming.

The route may need to be changed as well due to endangered species. The current proposed route passes through areas that contain a number of endangered species.

One of these species is the very highly endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, which has been recently found for the first time east of Ohio in recent years in Bath and Highland Counties Virginia. The Xerces Society states that Bath and Highland Counties are the most important area in our country for survival of the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee.

Over 33 miles of the current ACP route would pass through Bath and Highland Counties. In fact, the pipeline, and an additional 5 mile long industrial access road for the ACP are proposed to pass through the High Potential Zone, or the area where the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee has been found, and is most likely in it’s highest concentration. The access road would destroy large numbers of Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron bushes, which are a preferred food source for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, and on which they have been found feeding.

The courts threw out the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) original biological opinion and incidental take statement in a very strongly worded decision, and then quickly issued a stay, or hold, on the second USFWS opinion and statement. A hearing on that case will not be heard at least until May, with a decision probably several months later. The decision could very well be negative. The ACP cannot proceed without a valid and legal opinion and statement from the USFWS. The Endangered Species Act requires consideration of alternate locations for projects that threaten endangered species.

So there is a distinct possibility that the ACP will have to be re-routed, and that would be very expensive and time consuming.

A new route would have to be determined. It is quite possible that another environmental impact statement would have to be written for that route. This would entail extensive periods of public comment. If the new route was found to meet environmental requirements, eminent domain for a large number of private properties would have to be adjudicated by the courts, and a number of other permits would have to be applied for, and obtained as well.

Other potential cost prohibitive issues for the ACP involve the pipes.

The ACP has left the estimated 80,000 pipes needed for the pipeline stockpiled in the sun for over three years. The fusion bonded epoxy (FBE) coating for these pipes degrades and chalks off the pipes from sunlight. The Federal Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) confirms this loss of protective coating. Most experts advise that the pipes are probably safe after 2 years of storage in the sun, but may not be safe beyond that. The pipes are already well beyond that, and will remain in storage indefinitely, since the project is now stopped. Loss of corrosion protective makes the pipes vulnerable to failure, and catastrophic explosions.

It is possible that many of these pipes will need to be recoated or replaced. Many of the pipes for the famous Keystone XL pipeline had to be replaced or recoated due to excessive storage. The estimated cost of the pipes for the ACP is $400 million, and re-coating or replacing them would be very expensive.

Additionally, the 3M Scothkote Fusion Bonded Epoxy 6233 coating contains carcinogenic, mutagenic, and toxic materials per the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). The MSDS also lists a number of negative health impacts, including respiratory issues, skin irritation, eye irritation, and gastrointestinal irritation. Materials in this coating are also linked to birth defects and reproductive harm.

Since this coating is chalking off the pipes it is escaping into our environment and likely entering the bodies of persons through inhalation and ingestion in drinking water. Those on or near the proposed pipeline are especially at risk.

These pipes may also need to be re-coated or replaced due to the possible negative health impacts from the chalking coating. Water and air sampling, as well as cleanup may also be required, at substantial additional cost.

Notwithstanding Dominion’s rosy presentation to investors in New York yesterday, the ACP is in financial trouble. Wall street knows it, and we know it.




Jessica Sims April 15, 2019 at 9:25 am

Planned pipelines are an environmental disaster

The recent Associated Press Article “Global warming is shrinking glaciers faster than thought,” explains that the temperature increase of oceans through global warming produces sea level rise that “threaten(s) coastal cities around the world.” The threat of flooding impacts and further sea level rise should provoke pushback for any projects that would put additional greenhouse gases into the air and expedite global warming – like the two fracked-gas pipelines proposed for Virginia.

The Mountain Valley pipeline, slated for our neighbors in Southwest Virginia, and Atlantic Coast pipeline, which would bisect our state, would combined, produce over 100+ million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, the equivalent of over 40+ new coal plants, according to a study from Oil Change International.

Adding new sources of greenhouse gas emissions will rapidly accelerate damaging effects caused by climate change – coastal and inland flooding, erratic and increasingly damaging weather, easier spread of waterborne diseases, disruption of agriculture production and increasing food instability.

We are at a critical point that requires mitigating existing problems and saying NO to new, dirty fossil fuel projects that move the health of the commonwealth and its environment in the wrong direction.

Virginians deserve leaders and regulators that value the safety, health and future of communities statewide, and who recognize that increasing greenhouse emissions is reckless and harmful. Please contact your elected officials to share your concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and opposition to any new fossil fuel infrastructure that would damage our ability to combat global warming, like the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines.

Jessica Sims, Richmond, VA


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