Virginia’s Governor McAuliffe has repeatedly declared that the 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline can be built in an environmentally sound way. He first promised, at a joint Commonwealth-Dominion Press Conference, that the ACP would be the most environmentally responsible pipeline ever built in U.S. history. Although our governor has a limited understanding of the environmental issues associated with mega pipeline construction across the central Appalachian region, he nonetheless persists in promoting the ACP as harmless. Last week in an Ask the Governor radio interview, he again dismissed our concerns, complaining that:  “Some people act like this is the first pipeline that has ever been built.”

Actually, this would be the first pipeline this large that has ever been built across this type of landscape.

So, the real environmental cost of the ACP will not be fully known until after it is built, if indeed it is built. Meanwhile, we have undertaken case-study investigations of the much-smaller pipelines that have been built in this region.

Our first case study concerns a comparatively small 12-inch pipeline built last year in an existing pipeline corridor across one steep mountain in the Jefferson National Forest. For initial reporting on this case study, see Regulatory System Investigation.

Our primary finding, thus far:

Although protective regulations are on the books, compliance is lax, and the regulatory system is remarkably ineffective.

Clearly, with so much at stake, we cannot rely on “business as usual.”  The regulatory system is broken, and we invite the governor and everyone else concerned about our central Appalachian mountains, forests, streams, and water supplies to join with us in finding a way to fix it.