Both sides of Atlantic Coast Pipeline project optimistic for 2017

Published: Dec. 28, 2016 at 7:12 PM EST
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Controversy over pipeline projects made headlines around the country during 2016, from the fields of North Dakota to the woods of Southwest Virginia.

People on both sides of the debate have been paying attention in Augusta County, where Dominion wants to lay a portion of the 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

"Anytime one pipeline gets stopped, we are all excited," said Jennifer Lewis, a vocal opponent of the project. "Any strategy they used to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline or pipelines in New York, we're learning from that."

Empowered by the success so far of protesters in North Dakota, Lewis said those against Dominion's project plan to continue civil disobedience into the new year.

"We've got a lot to fight against," said Lewis. "We need to re-energize and re-group and we'll be continuing to move forward and keep fighting this pipeline from happening."

Lewis said they will continue to campaign into the 2017 election, urging voters to select candidates that are opposed to the project.

But not everyone feels their effort is worthwhile.

"Every dollar that Dominion spends trying to get all this approved is coming out of your pocket, my pocket, everyone else's pocket," said Travis Clements, who is in favor of the project.

Clements said he is convinced the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will eventually be built and that the increase in closures of coal-fired plants will force companies to turn to alternatives like natural gas.

"We want the electricity in the end so I think the people that are vocally against it and putting road blocks in its way are completely and utterly wrong," said Clements, who hopes Dominion will break ground on the project sometime in 2017.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is currently conducting an environmental impact study of the project.