Atlantic Coast Pipeline: More Bad News for North Carolina

Pipeline Near Homes
Pipeline Near Homes
Credit: David Jones

I recently blogged about the top ten reasons to stop the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines. The ACP would cut through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Here are two more reasons why the ACP is bad for North Carolina’s environment and residents.

Bad for communities of color: A new report from the NAACP and the Clean Air Task Force documents the health impacts of air pollution from oil and gas facilities on African American communities. The ACP would cross 8 counties in NC, and the report found that 7 of those counties have a higher African American population than the state as a whole, median household incomes below the statewide median, and poverty levels higher than the state average. The report concludes that the pipeline would have “unavoidable adverse impacts on already vulnerable communities.”

In addition to the pipeline itself, there would be a new natural gas compressor station in Northampton County, North Carolina. Not only does this county have a higher African American population, lower median household income, and higher poverty level than the state as a whole, but it has a higher overall cancer rate. According to the report, “lung and bronchial cancers, two forms of cancer caused by common air pollutants, are specifically elevated.” Compressor stations can emit dangerous levels of toxic air pollutants. The report concludes that this compressor station “could exacerbate health problems from increased air pollution.”

Bad for consumers: The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) just asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a rehearing on the ACP. The NCUC, the state agency that regulates rates, is opposed to ACP being guaranteed a 14 percent return on equity (“ROE”), or profit, on the $5.1 billion project. NCUC pointed out that there is no substantial evidence, analysis, or current market data that support a 14 percent ROE, and that the rates would be excessive for consumers. They point out that FERC has cited a 1959 decision to justify allowing pipelines to earn excessive returns.  The NCUC also documents how FERC approved a $5.1 billion pipeline without any substantial evidence that ACP’s proposal is required to meet public convenience and necessity.

In a recent blog post, my colleague Montina Cole explains the ways in which FERC natural gas pipeline policies are outdated and need to instead reflect today’s circumstances, starting with how FERC evaluates whether a natural gas pipeline project is needed.

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