[caption id="attachment_16136" align="alignleft" width="283"]<a href="https:\/\/mountainmedianews.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/13\/2015\/12\/Pipeline-pic-1.jpg"><img class="size-medium wp-image-16136" alt="Two photos showing erosion and sediment control issues being addressed by the DPMC\u2019s Twelve Days of Accountability FOIA campaign. Both photos are of the Columbia Gas 2014 project over Peters Mountain in Giles County. The company received a variance allowing a 2000-foot open trench, exceeding Virginia\u2019s minimum standard by a factor of four. The DEQ did not review erosion and sediment control plans for this project nor conduct inspections during construction. This is a relatively small, 12-inch pipeline installation, requiring a trench of about 6x6 feet. The ACP and MVP 42-inch pipelines will require trenches about 12x20 feet. (Images courtesy of the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition) " src="https:\/\/mountainmedianews.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/13\/2015\/12\/Pipeline-pic-1-283x300.jpg" width="283" height="300" \/><\/a> Two photos showing erosion and sediment control issues being addressed by the DPMC\u2019s Twelve Days of Accountability FOIA campaign. Both photos are of the Columbia Gas 2014 project over Peters Mountain in Giles County. The company received a variance allowing a 2000-foot open trench, exceeding Virginia\u2019s minimum standard by a factor of four. The DEQ did not review erosion and sediment control plans for this project nor conduct inspections during construction. This is a relatively small, 12-inch pipeline installation, requiring a trench of about 6x6 feet. The ACP and MVP 42-inch pipelines will require trenches about 12x20 feet. (Images courtesy of the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition)[\/caption]\r\n\r\nA new study of the mid-Atlantic\u2019s demand for natural gas reveals that two proposed and highly controversial interstate pipelines are not needed because existing pipelines can supply more than enough fuel to power the region through 2030.\r\nThe study concludes that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline - projects strongly opposed by local governments, businesses and thousands of mid-Atlantic neighbors - would be financially beneficial to utility companies and investors while burdening customers with higher bills to cover the cost of the unnecessary construction.\r\nThe report from Massachusetts-based Synapse Energy Economics was released last week in Nelson County, VA, one of the many areas that would be severely disrupted by pipeline construction. \u201cThe dilemma for communities up until now has been figuring out where these pipelines would be built,\u201d said Greg Buppert, an SELC staff attorney. \u201cBut today we know they don\u2019t need to be built at all. Despite what we have heard from the utilities, we will have plenty of power and heat without them.\u201d\r\nThe report\u2019s authors studied the capacity of the existing network of pipelines and the region\u2019s projected demand for energy. They concluded that, with some pipeline upgrades, \u201cthe supply capacity of the Virginia-Carolinas region\u2019s existing natural gas infrastructure is more than sufficient to meet expected future peak demand.\u201d The researchers wrote: \u201cAdditional interstate natural gas pipelines, like the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley projects, are not needed to keep the lights on, homes and businesses heated, and existing and new industrial facilities in production.\u201d\r\n\u201cThe Federal Energy Regulatory Commission cannot approve any pipeline project unless it is absolutely necessary,\u201d said Joe Lovett, executive director of Appalachian Mountain Advocates. \u201cAnd in cases like this, where the government allows for-profit companies to take private property - family farms, people\u2019s homes - that protection is especially crucial. This report shows the pipelines are not needed, so there should be no eminent domain for private gain. To do so would violate the law and the private property traditions of Virginia.\u201d\r\nThe pipelines, if approved, would also lock in the mid-Atlantic region to dependence on natural gas for 80 years, the lifetime of the pipelines. \u201cAn investment of billions of dollars in natural gas will further discourage these utilities from moving towards renewable energy, like solar and wind power that could save their customers more money,\u201d Buppert said. The two proposed pipelines would transport fracked natural gas from wells in West Virginia to customers in Virginia and the Carolinas.\r\nThe pipelines would transect valuable natural and recreation areas, along with cities, towns and farms. A number of citizen groups and businesses in several states have formed to oppose the pipelines. The report also raises the possibility of another utility-driven incentive to push for these projects. Because the supply of natural gas is abundant, utilities are exploring options to export the fuel overseas. That would require more capacity to move natural gas to the mid-Atlantic\u2019s coastal ports. Therefore, \u201cpipeline developers \u2026have an additional motivation to expand their ownership interests in natural gas supply infrastructure,\u201d the researchers said. In that case, those living along the pipeline\u2019s route would face extensive disruptions during construction - and the loss of land use after - while the utilities and investors reaped the benefits.\r\n\u201cTo safeguard public interests, a determination of need for new pipeline infrastructure requires a detailed, integrated analysis of natural gas capacity and demand for the region as a whole,\u201d the researchers wrote. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is evaluating the proposals. SELC and Appalachian Mountain Advocates commissioned the study to independently check utilities\u2019 claims that these projects were needed to meet the region\u2019s energy needs.