Action Alert: Public Comment Period Open for ACP Permit

On October 13, 2020 Duke Energy and Dominion Energy’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certificate authorizing construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) will expire. Issued three years earlier, the certificate prohibits any construction after that date. With just a few miles of pipeline in the ground six years after originally announcing the project, and with the project billions of dollars over budget and missing 8 federal permits, the folks at Duke and Dominion now want FERC to give them a two-year extension. On June 17, 2020, FERC published a Notice of Request for Extension of Time and started the clock ticking on a 15-day intervention and comment period. We have until 5:00 p.m. Thursday, July 2nd to submit comments opposing the certificate’s extension.

Background

In the low lying coastal plain of eastern North Carolina, climate change impacts have already devastated our communities. We are seeing more frequent, wetter hurricanes; these storms cause flooding that damage properties and displace people, inundate farms, cause overflows from wastewater treatment plants, and significantly impact water quality in our rivers and streams.

Here in North Carolina, we cannot afford to further contribute to climate change, and instead must pursue a future powered by clean, renewable energy. Recognizing the urgency of the climate crisis, Governor Cooper and the Department of Environmental Quality developed a Clean Energy Plan in 2019 with goals of reducing the state’s carbon emissions by 40% by 2025. The plan recognizes that the construction of large, expensive infrastructure projects such as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) will likely not be economically viable, and if constructed, would burden ratepayers with additional costs for years to come. Also in January of this year, Virginia—the site of over half of the ACP’s proposed route—told the Supreme Court that in light of the mounting evidence that the pipeline is not needed, the ACP threatens Virginia’s natural resources without clear corresponding benefits.

Despite the climate realities on the ground, and efforts put forth by state officials, Duke Energy and Dominion Energy continue their push to construct the ACP. The pipeline will fragment some of the most intact, forested landscapes across North Carolina and Virginia and will run under and through rivers, streams, and wetlands. The proposed locations for compressor stations and pipeline route will disproportionately impact low income communities and communities of color. Investing in and building infrastructure for a non-renewable energy source that contributes will only exacerbate our growing climate change crisis.

The ACP is already years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, and it is missing eight federal permits, including four Clean Water Act authorizations, but now Duke and Dominion are asking for more time to build the ACP. Before their wish is granted, tell Federal regulators right now: enough is enough, it’s time to abandon this project once and for all.

How to Submit Comments:

Option 1: Individual text-only comments, maximum 6,000 characters:

To file a text-only (no photographs or attachments) comment of 6,000 characters or fewer on behalf of an individual (yourself, not an organization), visit https://ferconline.ferc.gov/QuickComment.aspx and fill out the form. For this option, you do not need to register under FERC’s eFile system. FERC will email you a link to the comment system. The relevant FERC dockets are: CP15-554-000, CP15-554-001, and CP15-555-000. Draft your comments in a Word or Text file in advance (6,000 characters or less), and then copy and paste them into the eComment Text Box when you access the system.

Option 2: Submit via Sierra Club Comment Form to be compiled and submitted to FERC with other collected comments. Click here for the Sierra Club Comment Form.

Suggested Message to FERC

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline was first announced in 2014, and approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2017 with the issuance of the Certificate. The pipeline developers have never convincingly demonstrated a public need for the ACP. Falling renewable energy prices, and a growing body of evidence that the developers have overstated the demand for gas at the same time that upgrades to existing infrastructure have increased available capacity, further indicate the lack of market need for the ACP. If built, it would lock the Southeast region into decades of climate-disrupting fossil fuel use and eventually become a stranded asset.

Further, the project has no independent committed customers and is less than 6% built. Since 2017, the region’s energy future has undergone a seismic shift away from gas-fired power generation making FERC’s original finding that the ACP is needed obsolete. The newly enacted Virginia Clean Economy Act will rapidly propel Virginia to renewable energy, and North Carolina is on a similar trajectory.

Because ACP’s permitting problems are self-inflicted and the resulting delays were
foreseeable, there is no good cause for FERC to extend the Certificate.

In light of these changes, FERC should deny the request to extend its Certificate Order. The ACP is not needed, and its construction will only unnecessarily harm private property, communities, and the environment along the pipeline’s proposed route.