CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey expressed deep disappointment in light of Sunday’s decision by Dominion Energy and Duke Energy to cancel the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The decision comes just weeks after the Attorney General led an 18-state coalition that helped convince the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that had unnecessarily blocked construction.
“I’m deeply disappointed about this decision to cancel construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — a project which would have provided more than 1,000 West Virginian families with good paying jobs,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “My office helped lead the fight to reopen the pipeline at the U.S. Supreme Court and currently leads efforts to reverse the flawed national injunction to further limit construction on pipelines that recently came out of a Montana district court.
“The concept of one district court judge paralyzing the construction of pipelines across our country is very disconcerting. My office will look even more closely at this matter and will keep up our all-in fight for West Virginia jobs. We should and must not quit fights like these,” he continued.
The Attorney General, earlier this month, helped lead a coalition urging the Supreme Court to stay the Montana decision – an overly broad, federal district court order that impacts the construction of new oil and natural gas pipelines across the country.
The lower court ruling brought a sudden and unexpected halt to construction projects far beyond the matter in question. The coalition argues, without a stay to block its enforcement, the order will immediately disrupt the economy at an already precarious time as the projects — and the energy resources they provide — are critical to each state.
With regards to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Attorney General successfully argued that a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling would have transformed 1,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail into a near-impenetrable barrier to energy development – all to avoid a one-tenth mile crossing deep beneath the surface on a 600-mile pipeline.
Halting of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s construction cost the state at least 1,500 well-paying jobs and lost revenue from income and property taxes. The jobs in question paid laborers between $25 to $40 per hour plus per diem.
When completed, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would have transported natural gas through Harrison, Lewis, Upshur, Randolph and Pocahontas counties en route to Virginia and North Carolina.
The Attorney General successfully contended that, if applied nationwide, the 4th Circuit decision would have sealed off more than 11,000 miles of federal trails from development and potentially disrupted the national power grid because of the chilling effect it could have had on infrastructure investment.