As concerns mount over Dominion Resources’ threat to use the power of eminent domain in the construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), Virginians deserve to know why the Richmond-based energy giant is so quick to dismiss using existing rights of way and colocation for the project.
The ACP would transport natural gas from the energy-rich Marcellus Shale in West Virginia though central Virginia before turning south into North Carolina. Landowners, many of them farmers, whose property is in the path of the ACP’s proposed route fear that the pipeline will lead to a substantial devaluation of their property. One way Dominion can avoid the stain of using eminent domain to get its way, and to spare affected property owners the financial loses the ACP will inflict, is to reroute the pipeline using existing rights of way and collocating it with other Dominion easements.
Contrary to Dominion’s public statements, such alternatives do exist. The most intriguing alternative would use the existing right of way of a Dominion subsidiary and run the pipeline from Dooms (Augusta County) south to Farmville (Prince Edward and Cumberland County) and then follow the I-64 corridor east toward Richmond. This route would be 7.5 miles longer than the ACP’s current path, but it would be 100 percent colocation. There would be no eminent domain. Dominion would get its pipeline, and landowners would get their peace of mind.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the final say on the construction of interstate pipelines. FERC is very clear on its strong preference for colocation:
“The use, widening, or extension of existing right-of-way must be considered in locating proposed facilities.”
For Virginians living in the pathway of the ACP, there are compelling economic, environmental, and public safety reasons for routing the pipeline through existing rights of way. Doing so would show that Dominion really does care about the property rights of ordinary Virginians. Refusing to do so, on the other hand, would reveal Dominion as just another corporate bully.