by A Siegel
After six years of battling, Virginians concerned about climate change, environmental injustice, and a prosperous energy future had reason for Sunday afternoon celebration with Dominion Energy’s and Duke Energy’s announcement of cancellation of the fossil-foolish Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).
Truthful assessment of these pipelines has made clear that they would:
- Massively increase the Commonwealth’s climate footprint;
- Cause environmental damage from backyards to the globe;
- Worsen environmental injustice;
- Increase Virginians’ energy costs;
- Reduce Virginia’s economic competitiveness;
- Create significant “stranded asset” financial risks; and
- Weaken our ability to invest in and shift to a clean energy future.
All of the above was true when Dominion and Duke announced the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) in 2014. Every effort at “fully burdened cost benefit analysis” showed that the ACP was a bad deal for Virginia and Virginians. And, with every passing day, the facts have been even more on the side of those making the No ACP case.
- Clean energy (solar, wind, battery) options have expanded, deployments skyrocketed, and prices have plunged … and these trends will continue – if not accelerate.
- The climate crisis has worsened and climate risks increased;
- Fracked fossil gas methane risks have been better assessed; and,
- Environmental injustice and racism implications have become clearer and better understood.
With every passing day, the case for the ACP weakened, yet Dominion and Duke fought on, due to a strong financial case for their shareholders…because our financial system consistently privatizes profits and socializes costs — so much of the above simply wasn’t Dominion’s and Duke’s “problem” outside public relations world. What happened, however, was that years of opposition (from tree sitters to marchers to environmental organization lawyers to …) put (multi-colored and multi-faceted) sand in the gears.
— Doug Jackson (@Easy_Tyger) July 6, 2020
— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) July 6, 2020
The widespread opposition delayed and raised the costs of the pipeline even as the first point above continued: the options looked better and better with every passing day.
What seems to have happened, from the bleachers, is that Dominion’s and Duke’s (highly) competent strategic analysis teams have been constantly assessing the changing energy world’s financial implications for their shareholders. Bit by bit, as opposition delayed fossil foolish infrastructure and political momentum swung (especially in Virginia) against them, the strategy teams’ analysis made clear that going with lower-carbon options would provide a higher and lower risk return (profit) for shareholders and that they have been making the case to their firms’ leadership teams. Tom Farrell and the Dominion Energy board seem to be showing clearly – with the prominence of last week’s offshore wind installation celebration ceremony and yesterday’s major fossil gas announcements (not just cancelling the ACP but the selling of significant fracked gas assets to Berkshire Hathaway) – that Dominion has decided that a clean energy future is more profitable for them than continuing their climate-denying dirty energy ways.
Activists and organizations of all flavors, colors, and sizes merit significant credit for fostering the breathing space to enable Dominion to reach this point. Clearly, cancelling the ACP was a business decision … and one that will, in the long term, lead to significant financial benefits for Dominion’s shareholders. While it almost certainly is not going to occur, Tom Farrell and the Dominion Energy Board should be thanking those who fought the ACP so diligently for the past seven years for what will be a strengthened financial future.
In case you thought that small actions don’t matter…this is a result of every tree sitter, each person who chained herself to a piece of equipment, sat at an air board mtg, blocked a site, etc – YOU DID THIS!!!!! #noACP https://t.co/XosYdcoAdi
— Paige Perriello (@paigeperriello) July 5, 2020