A Wilson Times Co. publication · Serving Southern Nash County Since 1947

Atlantic Coast Pipeline scrapped; Nash landowner calls project 'unneeded, dirty and dangerous'

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Energy giants that pushed for a controversial interstate natural gas pipeline through Nash County have pulled the plug on the project.

Duke Energy and Dominion Energy announced the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s cancellation Sunday. Representatives cited rising costs and endless delays.

Nash County farmer Marvin Winstead joined the fight against the ACP when he discovered the pipeline would traverse his property.

Winstead, who has a lawsuit pending against the pipeline, said Sunday he’s pleased with the announcement.

“A David and Goliath reference is appropriate,” Winstead said. “We used that comparison early on in the meetings about the project.”

Winstead added Monday that for the last six years, people throughout eastern North Carolina and across Virginia worked in groups and with regional and national environmental organizations to stop the project.

“Legal challenges in the courts caused the companies to lose nine certificates or permits,” Winstead said. “As of yesterday, only one permit had been cleared by the U.S. Supreme  Court. The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League assisted me and other landowners with the costs of the eminent domain lawsuits that were ongoing at the time of the announcement of the cancellation of the project.”

Winstead said he’s very appreciative of the support.

The capitulation to local property owners, grassroots groups and environmental advocates comes as somewhat of a surprise given a recent victory by Duke and Dominion.

Pipeline builders won a battle in the ongoing legal war over the pipeline when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in June that the ACP could be built across the Appalachian Trail.

However, the ruling appears to have come too late to save the project as several other lawsuits and permitting fights lay ahead.

Then there’s the project’s cost, which ballooned from $4.5 billion to $8 billion, according to a joint press release from Thomas F. Farrell II of Dominion Energy and Lynn J. Good of Duke Energy — presidents and CEOs of their respective companies.

“We regret that we will be unable to complete the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” Farrell and Good said in the joint statement. “For almost six years, we have worked diligently and invested billions of dollars to complete the project and deliver the much-needed infrastructure to our customers and communities.”

Proponents of the pipeline said it would attract industry to the area and be a boon to local economies.

Winstead said the pipeline would have been worse than pollution from more than 14 million vehicles on the highway or 20 coal-fired power plants, with the companies passing the $8 billion cost on to electric ratepayers.

“The collective work of informed individuals and organizations helped to stop an unneeded, dirty and dangerous project from harming  people, the region and the environment,” Winstead said.

Initially announced in 2014, the now-dead pipeline would have carried natural gas 600 miles from West Virginia to North Carolina.