By Taft Wireback
Critics of a proposed natural gas pipeline through the Triad’s eastern perimeter say it could meet an end similar to the recently scrapped Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The same economic and societal forces that doomed the so-called ACP could affect the proposed MVP Southgate pipeline in Rockingham and Alamance counties, they believe.
“Big corporations make big mistakes,” said Jim Warren, executive director of the energy watchdog NC WARN. “The last thing in the world we need to be doing is expanding the fossil fuel infrastructure.”
Duke Energy and its partner Dominion Energy made headlines this week when they abruptly announced they were canceling the proposed 600-mile ACP from West Virginia through Virginia and eastern North Carolina.
The utilities said that the $7 billion project faced an “unacceptable layer of uncertainty and anticipated delays” stemming at least partly from legal challenges mounted by environmental groups.
The $468 million Southgate project would be a 75-mile extension of another proposed natural gas project, the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Like the failed ACP, the MVP “mainline” project originates in West Virginia and then crosses Virginia on a 303.5-mile route, before its Southgate spur enters North Carolina near Eden.
The Southgate extension would follow a southeasterly course through the Dan River and Haw River basins to an endpoint near Graham.
Federal officials recently approved Southgate for future construction. But in a situation reminiscent of what stymied the ACP, backers of the North Carolina extension cannot begin building it until authorities lift a current stop work order stemming from lawsuits involving its parent project.
Southgate supporters don’t see any red flags in the ACP cancellation.