Federal Legal and Regulatory Developments Relating to the U.S. Pipeline Industry

01 Jan 2021

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (“ACP”) was designed as a 600-mile underground, pipeline project transporting natural gas from well sites in West Virginia to end users throughout Virginia and North Carolina. Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (“Atlantic Coast”), the developer of the ACP project, began the extensive process of obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals for this project by initiating a pre-filing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) in October 2014. In the nearly six years that followed, the project received various permits related to water and air quality as well as other matters from state and federal agencies. At nearly every step of the way, however, opponents of the project challenged the grant of these permits. In one case, several environmental groups challenged the propriety of the U.S. Forest Service granting a right-of-way for the pipeline to traverse a portion of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The ensuing litigation eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which rendered an opinion on June 15, 2020, upholding the grant of the right-of-way and apparently paving the way for the completion of the project. Despite receiving this favorable ruling, Duke Energy and Dominion Energy— the companies that created Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC as a joint venture—announced they were abandoning construction of the project on July 5, 2020.