<strong>by Peggy Mackenzie<\/strong>\r\nCiting "ongoing delays and increasing cost uncertainty,\u201d the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) was declared \u201cshut down\u201d in a joint announcement by Dominion Energy and Duke Energy.\r\n\r\n"We regret that we will be unable to complete the Atlantic Coast Pipeline," Dominion and Duke Energy chairs, presidents, and chief executive officers Thomas F. Farrell, II and Lynn J. Good said in a statement on Sunday, June 5. "For almost six years we have worked diligently and invested billions of dollars to complete the project and deliver the much-needed infrastructure to our customers and communities.\u201d\r\n\r\n<img class="size-full wp-image-49812 alignleft" src="https:\/\/mountainmessenger.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/13\/2020\/07\/DFNkJsbXYAA7Otd.jpg" alt="" width="640" height="626" \/>The utilities' announcement came a little less than three weeks after the pipeline scored an important legal victory when the Supreme Court ruled that it could pass beneath the Appalachian Trail. But environmental groups at the time pointed out that the project still needed eight other permits.\r\n\r\nThe legal climate described by Duke and Dominion in their statement reflects the growing vulnerability of all fossil fuel pipeline projects, reports bizjournals.com. The utilities' executives cited as a major challenge the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Montana cancelling a stream-and wetland-crossing permit used by the Army Corps of Engineers to fast-track infrastructure projects. The ruling was prompted by a legal challenge to the Keystone XL pipeline in particular, but it ended up cancelling the permit for all new oil and gas pipeline projects without further review of their impact on endangered species.\r\n\r\nAnother factor in the ACP\u2019s demise was that natural gas simply wasn\u2019t very good business anymore, reports the Raleigh News and Observer. Years of public pressure, adding to the structural challenges facing the natural gas industry, including chronic oversupply, natural gas producers\u2019 mountains of debt, and Wall Street investors\u2019 loss of patience after years of unprofitability. Add to that, the worldwide economic slowdown caused by the pandemic which created a fossil fuel glut that effectively rolled back the fracking industry. For Duke and Dominion, all this combined to make the pipeline \u201ca conspicuously bad deal.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cThe well-funded, obstructionist environmental lobby has successfully killed the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,\u201d Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said in a press statement on Sunday, adding that the project is \u201cno longer economically viable due to the costly legal battles they would continue to face.\u201d Over the past few years, a full-court press of legal challenges and mounting pressure from Indigenous tribes and a wide range of organizers had delayed the project and nearly doubled its projected cost\u2014from $4.5 billion to $8 billion.\r\n\r\n"The costly and unneeded Atlantic Coast Pipeline\u201d designed to run from the Ohio Valley to West Virginia, where it would collect natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale deposits to coastal Virginia and then south to North Carolina, \u201cthreatened waterways and communities across its 600-mile path," said Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Gillian Giannetti in a statement reported by The New York Times. The pipeline's opponents insist that pipelines like the ACP are not in fact necessary to meet the country's energy needs.\r\n\r\n"All of the ACP's problems are entirely self-inflicted," Greg Buppert, a senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. "It was never a good idea to build this pipeline through two national forests, a national park, across the Appalachian Trail, and through the steepest mountains in West Virginia.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe impact of successful fights against fossil fuel infrastructure reverberates beyond the projects they\u2019re fighting, shifting the way other pipeline and fossil infrastructure projects are seen as well, and raising the political if not direct financial cost of natural gas investments.\r\n\r\nOn the Monday morning following the ACP announcement, a federal judge ordered a temporary shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), citing its slapdash environmental review process. In the DAPL decision, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote that, while shutting the project down might seem extreme, the extent of the DAPL environmental review\u2019s flaws, \u201cand the potential harm each day the pipeline operates,\u201d was such that \u201cthe Court is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease.\u201d\r\n\r\nOnly time will tell whether DAPL backers think this debacle is worth the continued investment, or whether they\u2014like Dominion and Duke Energy\u2014decide it\u2019s time to cut their losses on a project whose payoff, even without the protests, seems increasingly uncertain, concludes a report by The New Republic.\r\n\r\n\u201cDuke and Dominion did not decide to cancel the Atlantic Coast Pipeline \u2014 It took \u2018a less genteel tool,\u2019 \u2014 the people and frontline organizations that led this fight for years to force them into walking away,\u201d stated Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.