By John Hood
The proposed natural gas pipeline through eastern North Carolina is dead. Long live natural gas!
Admittedly, there won’t be a coronation ceremony like there would be if a living monarch were replacing a deceased one.But when it comes to reliable, affordable and environmentally friendly ways to power a 21st-century economy, natural gas is still king. Its reign will continue for many decades, despite the successful effort by left-wing activists to litigate the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to death.
Just to be clear: neither technical considerations nor changing customer demand did the pipeline in. The two utilities behind the project, North Carolina’s Duke Energy and Virginia’s Dominion Energy, made that very clear in their July 5 announcement.
“A series of legal challenges to the project’s federal and state permits has caused significant project cost increases and timing delays,” the companies stated. “These lawsuits and decisions have sought to dramatically rewrite decades of permitting and legal precedent including as implemented by presidential administrations of both political parties.”
As a result, Duke and Dominion could no longer make rational plans or take rational risks to construct the pipeline, which would have carried natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. The legal challenges had driven the cost of the project to at least $8 billion, up from the original $5 billion, and delayed its completion for several years.
Activist groups were jubilant. Generously funded by left-wing foundations and other donors, they had used every tactic at their disposal to destroy the project. They truly think that by obstructing the creation of natural gas plants and pipelines, they will force North Carolina and other states to increase dramatically the share of power derived from wind, solar and other “renewable” sources of energy.