Earlier this year, Public Accountability & LittleSis launched a new project, “The Power Behind the Pipelines.” This is an ongoing series of reports we’re publishing that examine the networks of power behind a range of controversial fracked oil and gas pipelines in the US.
In these reports, we aim to bring transparency to the corporate influence, revolving door lobbyists, and regulatory conflicts of interests behind these pipelines, as well as the big banks that are issuing the credit to get the pipelines built.
Now we’re releasing our third report — this one on the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). You can read the report here.
The ACP is an approximately 600-mile unidirectional pipeline being proposed by a consortium of four energy companies. If approved, it will deliver fracked Marcellus-Utica shale gas through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, with a compressor station in each state along the way.
The ACP has the strong support of the Trump administration, but it’s encountered intense opposition from environmental groups, landowners, conservationists, and other concerned community members who stand to be impacted by it.
The driving force behind the ACP is Dominion Energy, the powerful Virginia-based energy utilities corporation. Our report focuses on the power and influence of Dominion and its CEO Tom Farrell, as well as its political donations, its army of revolving door lobbyists, and its ties to regulatory boards involved in the ACP’s approval process.
We also look at the banks who have credit agreements with Dominion and Duke Energy, the pipeline’s second biggest stakeholder. We found that 18 banks have credit agreements with both Dominion and Duke for over $11 billion, and that 16 of these banks are also loaning to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Half of the estimated $5 to $5.5 billion of the ACP will be paid for by debt financing.
Here is a list of the report’s key findings, and below that is a slideshow map that we made on LittleSis’s Oligrapher.
Vast corporate power behind the pipeline. Dominion Energy, the biggest stakeholder in the ACP, is a huge economic and political powerhouse in Virginia and beyond. The company and its powerful CEO have used their deep pockets and political ties to advance their interests generally and around the pipeline.
An army of revolving door lobbyists. Dominion and its surrogates have deployed a band of private lobbyists who have backgrounds in government — including a former EPA official from the Obama administration.
Pro-pipeline politicians cash in. State politicians in Virginia and North Carolina who have been publicly vocal about their support for the pipeline have been some of the biggest recipients of donations from its corporate backers.
Conflicts of interests at regulatory agencies. Key members of regulatory boards tasked with approving the pipeline in Virginia have backgrounds that raise conflict of interest concerns. For example, the Virginia DEQ’s Water Permitting Division Director was once a lawyer for Dominion, according to minutes from a county board meeting.
Banks invested in the pipeline. Nearly three dozen banks have credit agreements for almost $15 billion in total to Dominion and Duke. Many of these banks are also funding the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.