FACT CHECK: Have the Benefits of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Been Overstated?


A recent letter to the editor in the Virginian Pilot alleged the “benefits to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are overstated” and that “cons outweigh the pros,” suggesting “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would tie us to another 30 years at least of polluting, dangerous, not necessary and unwanted fossil fuel dependence.”




The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile underground pipeline that will carry natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia and North Carolina, has recently become one of the top targets for environmental activists looking to block the construction of new energy infrastructure as part of their larger mission to “Keep it in the Ground.”

However, activists in opposition to the project, including the author of the recent letter to the editor in the Pilot, disregard the pipeline’s timely economic benefits, as well as the extensive permitting and approval process the pipeline has undergone. Given the COVID-induced economic hardships facing the American economy, large-scale, shovel-ready infrastructure projects like Atlantic Coast support thousands of family-sustaining union jobs, usher in new streams of tax revenue, and create new economic opportunities for the communities along the pipeline’s route.

According to the pipeline’s developers, six of the largest public utilities in the region are Atlantic Coast Pipeline customers waiting for additional supply: Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, Virginia Natural Gas, Dominion Energy North Carolina and Columbia Gas. Together, these public utilities provide home heating, electricity and industrial power to millions of homes, businesses, schools and hospitals across Virginia and North Carolina.

It is important to keep in mind that opposing the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will not alter reality and minimize the region’s energy demands. Instead, fuel will be transported by less safe and less environmentally-conscious methods of truck and rail. In addition to producing less emissions than the alternatives of truck and rail, pipelines are safer and more efficient – taking any potential risks off the rails and roads.

Despite what the letter to the editor claims, constructing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will not be the deciding factor that “tie[s] us to another 30 years” of “fossil fuel dependence.” In fact, natural gas was the largest source of U.S. electricity generation in 2019 – meeting nearly 40 percent of American energy needs. Wind and solar generation, on the other hand, made up less than 10 percent. Natural gas has been key in lowering global carbon emissions – led by the United States – while continuing to provide reliable, affordable energy for consumers. Politics and ideological opposition to fossil fuels can’t change these facts.