In another blow to the proposed Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) pipeline and infrastructure expansion project known as the Header Improvement Project (HIP), the State Corporation Commission (SCC) on Tuesday dismissed VNG’s application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. Virginia Natural Gas must file a completely new application if it wishes to proceed.
VNG proposed the expansion in response to anticipated demand from a proposed natural gas-fired electricity generating plant in Charles City County (C4GT). As the driver of the project, VNG’s application heavily relied on C4GT to provide the bulk of the funding for the expansion. Last June the SCC declined to approve the VNG proposal due to substantial uncertainties related to C4GT’s ability to secure financing, the lack of a meaningful environmental justice analysis, and other issues.
The SCC indicated that it would consider approving VNG’s application if it satisfied certain conditions designed to resolve those lingering uncertainties by Dec. 31, 2020. In a letter submitted to the SCC in early November, VNG stated that those conditions would not be met by the Dec. 31 deadline.
The Header Improvement Project would affect communities in Prince William, Fauquier, Caroline, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, and Charles City counties, and the City of Chesapeake. The HIP and its component parts would impact 153 acres of wetlands and 313 acres of forest. Dozens of homes appear to lie within 500 feet of the 24 miles of proposed pipelines.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has advocated for consideration of environmental threats and environmental justice concerns from the project.
CBF Environmental Justice Staff Attorney Taylor Lilley issued the following statement.
“The proposed Header Improvement Project would destroy forests and wetlands, pollute our air and waterways, and pose harm to vulnerable and marginalized communities in the Commonwealth. The SCC’s decision is an important and crucial development for the environment and for Virginians whose health and wellbeing were at risk from this project.
“We will continue to oppose unnecessary projects that threaten the environment and public health and support communities in their fight against environmental injustice.”