Fighting Proposed Pipelines

Because of discovery of huge natural gas supplies in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations, the build-out of natural gas infrastructure in Appalachia is unprecedented. We are working hard to fight the series of pipelines proposed for the mid-Atlantic Region. Nearly 2000-miles of large-diameter pipelines are proposed to move take fracked gas from West Virginia and Pennsylvania to markets primarily in the South. That infrastructure will cost nearly $20 billion. We must stop that infrastructure to make room for renewable energy.

The Pipelines

We are working to challenge several specific pipelines threatening out region. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would run nearly 600 miles from West Virginia through Virginia to end in southern North Carolina. The pipeline would also include a new compressor station and an almost 70-mile-long spur to feed growth in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region. We are also concerned about the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would be over 300 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia to connect to the Transco Pipeline, a mega-pipeline that ships gas to burn in the Southeast. Both pipelines would be 42 inches in diameter (by comparison, Keystone XL would have been 36 inches). We’re also working hard to challenge other major fracked-gas pipeline projects like the Mountaineer XPress and the WP XPress in West Virginia as well as the Atlantic Sunrise and Susquehanna West in Pennsylvania.

The direct impacts of each pipeline are considerable. The direct impacts of each pipeline are considerable. Each would cut through mountains and fragment prime forest habitat. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposal, for example, would route several miles of pipeline through the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests. Much of the planned pathway for both projects would slice a large and permanent clearcut through high-quality habitat located on public and private land. Forest fragmentation will be dramatic; it will disrupt wildlife, including endangered salamanders, endangered bats, and threatened bird populations.

The long term effects are even more potent. These pipelines would also provide economic incentive to increase destructive fracking throughout Appalachia. The added capacity would decrease the cost of getting gas to market, making fracking more profitable. And at a combined cost of at several billion dollars, these project represent a major investment in an outdated fossil fuel. Ratepayers would be saddled with paying for the pipelines (and the natural gas they transport) for decades, rather than investing those same funds in developing affordable clean energy. And many climate scientists believe that from cradle to grave (drilling, transport, and burning), natural gas produces more greenhouse gases than coal. Read more about how natural gas is a stumbling block in addressing the threat of climate change.

Our Work

We are working to combat the pipeline proposals on several fronts. We’re deeply engaged in the federal environmental review process, working with economic experts and environmental scientists to understand the projects’ real impacts. We have submitted substantial comments on each of the proposals, asking that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider the direct and indirect impacts these proposed pipelines would have on the economy and the environment. We are advocating that FERC prepare a single, regionally-focused EIS — a programmatic EIS — that addresses the impacts of and need for the entire scheme of proposed infrastructure for this region. We are also incorporating economic analyses that will compare the cost of renewables to natural gas, showing that these pipelines are unnecessary and that ratepayers will in fact be paying more for their energy if these pipelines are constructed. We are also closely monitoring and commenting on the US Army Corps of Engineers’ permitting process for these projects.

We’re also protecting the private property rights of scores of landowners living in the proposed pipeline footprints. Many landowners have refused to allow the pipeline companies to survey on their private land. These landowners have encountered serious push-back from the pipeline companies. Many have been sued. In and out of the courtroom, we’re helping these landowners assert their fundamental property rights against the deep pockets of the pipeline companies. Read more about these efforts.