After years of planning, protests, legal challenges, budget overruns, and delays, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was cancelled. On July 5, 2020, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy made a joint announcement, stating the move “was a necessary decision given the legal uncertainties facing the project.” While many landowners in the path of the pipeline celebrated, those whose property was acquired as part of the project are left wondering: what happens now? By the time the ACP was cancelled, Dominion claimed that it had secured 98% of the easements along the route. Unfortunately, not all the rights acquired are equal. Some easements may have automatically terminated, but not most.
In January 2021, Dominion and its development partners presented their plan to federal regulators to “undo” the ACP. The plan includes abandoning buried pipeline and restoring disturbed right-of-way. However, they also “confirmed for the first time that the company does not intend to voluntarily release the easement agreements it secured on landowners’ properties.” What the company will actually do with those easements is unknown, leaving many affected landowners angry and confused.