By Steve Horn and Itai Vardi
On Jan. 25, President Donald Trump's team listed the Atlantic Coast pipeline among the White House's top priorities for infrastructure projects, an attempt to deliver on his campaign promise to invest in U.S infrastructure programs.
Of the 50 on the list, Atlantic Coast is surprisingly the only pipeline project named. Some had suspected Trump's infrastructure promise would serve as a massive pipeline giveaway. So, why prioritize this one?
A possible answer: Several members of Trump's transition team, landing team and current White House operation have connections to companies behind the project or to firms lobbying for it.
The natural gas pipeline, currently under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), has faced staunch opposition from environmental activists and residents along its 550-mile-long path stretching from West Virginia through Virginia to North Carolina. It will carry natural gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking").
Among other things, detractors argue that the pipeline will have adverse effects on sensitive habitats, reduce property values and introduce dangerous precedents for the seizure of private property through eminent domain.
The pipeline is included in a document listing the Trump White House's highest priority infrastructure projects. The document, which was leaked recently to the Kansas City Star, had reportedly been sent by Trump transition team members to the National Governor's Association for review and comment.