The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a $5 billion infrastructure project, is unlikely to bring economic development to three eastern North Carolina counties, according to a new report.
The report was authored by Nancy LaPlaca, an energy consultant who previously worked for the advocacy group NC Warn, and published by the Alliance to Protect our People and Places We Live (APPPL), an organization formed in opposition to the pipeline. It contradicts earlier predictions by pipeline developers that the project will encourage development in Johnston, Cumberland, and Robeson counties, three of eight eastern North Carolina counties the six-hundred-mile pipeline is slated to run through. The ACP would transport fracked gas from West Virginia through Virginia and continue through eastern North Carolina, ending in Robeson County.
A fierce opposition movement has coalesced around the pipeline. The joint venture by Duke and Dominion energies is one of eleven proposed pipelines in the Southeast, five of which have already been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Supporters say the pipeline will lower energy costs and lead to greater economic development in some of the poorest counties in the state. Opponents argue the ACP will cause irreparable environmental damage, lead to rising utility costs, and disproportionately affect poor and minority communities (about thirty thousand Native Americans live along the proposed route). The pipeline is slated cut through 320 waterways in North Carolina and affect a thousand landowners.
highlighted the concerns of many of the affected communities facing off the project in an in-depth feature
LaPlaca's findings push back on a December report submitted by Dominion to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, which is responsible for issuing water- and air-quality permits for the project, that concluded the ACP would yield a net positive economic impact and minor cumulative impacts.
"The ACP response admits that the economic development effects in Robeson County will be limited, while Robeson will be burdened with major additional infrastructure, that is disclosed for the first time," LaPlaca writes. "In spite of new disclosures of specific development projects, there are absolutely no details or analysis of the purpose, use, and impact of this new, proposed infrastructure provided by the ACP as requested by the DEQ. Also, there is no acknowledgment of the additional risks to the public and environment, including water sources and resources, from these newly disclosed proposed developments."
The report calls for the DEQ to hold three additional public hearings in Robeson, Cumberland, and Johnston counties for residents to voice their concerns. Although the pipeline has already been approved by the FERC, the project requires a number of permits in the state, several of which are still pending. It still needs an air-quality permit to operate a compressor station in Northampton County that will push the gas through the pipeline system and a water-quality permit stipulating that the pipeline is in compliance with the Clean Water Act.
Although the project still lacks those approvals, the FERC recently
granted Dominion's request to start cutting down trees along parts of the route in West Virginia and Virginia.