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Atlantic Coast Natural Gas Pipeline. Virginia, USA


In 2015, energy companies across the US Mid-Atlantic region announced plans to build a 550 mile fracked-gas pipeline through the Shenandoah Valley. The pipeline would collect fracked gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale basins in Ohio, Pennslyvania and West Virginia, and transport them for refinement in North Carolina.

Companies taking part in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project include Dominion Power, Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas.

The pipeline is currently scheduled to go through indigenous and African American burial grounds.

Landownders, local environmental justice organizations, students and indigenous groups have mobilized a network of collective action, as well as organized street demonstrations and blockades.

While mobilization has been coming from local, grassroots coalitions such as Richmond Resistance and Free Nelson, national NGOs such as Food and Water Watch and the Sierra Club have voiced their opposition as well. Activism began in 2015, a train in West Virginia carrying 25 cars of crude oil derailed onto a riverbank and exploded.

Hundreds of tons of flaming crude oil were dumped into the river. This industrial spill, which is one of several recent fossil-fuel related accidents in the Appalachia Region, inspired mobilizations for climate justice and divestment from fossil fuels in the region.

On Monday, Feb 23 2015 over 50 people blockaded the entrance to the headquarters of energy company Dominion Power in Richmond, Virginia. Ten individuals were arrested in the action which brought unprecedented media attention to the question of natural gas in the historic Shenandoah Valley.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Atlantic Coast Natural Gas Pipeline. Virginia, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Virginia
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Shale gas fracking
Oil and gas refining
Specific commodities:Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Project area:142,449
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:02/01/2015
Company names or state enterprises:Dominion Energy from United States of America - Principal investor
Duke Energy from United States of America
Piedmont Natural Gas from United States of America
Relevant government actors:Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Richmond Resistance
Free Nelson

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Shareholder/financial activism.
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Global warming
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession


Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Development of alternatives:Climate justice activists are proposing that the State of Virginia divest from fossil fuels. Landowners along the pipeline cooridor are developing a proposal for an alternative route to the pipeline.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Dominion has started surveying land across the pipeline corridor, but construction has yet to begin.

Sources & Materials

Southern Studies Institute

Richmond Resistance

Friends of Nelson

Meta information

Contributor:Eleanor Finley, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Last update18/08/2019



Dominion Headquarters Blockade

Climate justice activists blockade the headquarters of Dominion in Richmond, VA.