July 6, 2020 Read More →

String of legal defeats highlight risks of pipeline projects

Huffington Post:

 

On Sunday, two major utilities canceled plans to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile conduit to carry fracked gas from West Virginia through Virginia to North Carolina, despite a favorable Supreme Court ruling just weeks earlier.

On Monday, a federal court ordered the Dakota Access pipeline to shut down by Aug. 5 after finding that the controversial oil conduit, which has spilled dozens of times since construction ended in 2017, fell short of safety requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

The dual defeats, less than 24 hours apart, come at a moment when weak demand for oil, swelling debt and mounting concerns over climate change are forcing gas companies out of business and oil giants to dramatically downgrade the value of their assets. 

But analysts say the decisions also signal that the legal tides are turning against fossil fuel infrastructure. Environmentalists are mounting increasingly sophisticated challenges, and clean energy is eroding the dominance the oil and gas industry once held over the electricity, heating and transportation markets. 

“The chickens are coming home to roost,” said Suzanne Mattei, an energy policy analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a think tank. The companies behind both pipelines, she added, “ended up investing a lot of time and effort into something and didn’t listen to the warning signs.” 

[Alexander C. Kaufman]

More: Oil And Gas Pipelines Look Like Increasingly Risky Bets

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