The Wilson Times
By Drew C. Wilson
Two days before the public comment period expires on a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, 16 prominent legislators in three states have sent a letter in support of the project.
Republican and Democratic state legislators in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia voiced their collective backing Tuesday in a two-page letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Citing the potential for a boost in the economy, improvements in infrastructure, jobs and tax revenues, the 16 state legislators said the project “represents tremendous new opportunity for our states” and asked FERC to approve the pending pipeline application.
The 600-mile pipeline would transport natural gas extracted from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations through West Virginia and Virginia to a point in Robeson County, North Carolina.
The ACP’s primary backers, Dominion Power and Duke Energy, will use about 80 percent of the natural gas to power a new generation of natural gas-powered electricity generating plants that are replacing old coal-burning plants. The remainder will be distributed to individual homes, businesses and schools.
In North Carolina, signers are House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, House Majority Leader John R. Bell, R-Wayne, Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, D-Wake, and Rep. Ken Goodman, D-Richmond, chairman of the Main Street Democrats.
Some 11 other legislators in leadership positions in Virginia and West Virginia signed the April 4 letter sent to Nathaniel J. Davis Sr., FERC’s deputy secretary.
In the letter, the pipeline is described as “a major project that holds great potential to improve the economies and supply of energy in our states” and “represents a much-needed addition to our nation’s energy infrastructure.”
About 200 miles of pipeline will be constructed in North Carolina through eight counties. Nearly 12 miles will cut through the western portion of Wilson County from just north of Sims to a point three miles south-southwest of Buckhorn Crossroads.
According to the letter, citing a Chmura Economics & Analytics report from 2014, the construction would create $680 million in total economic activity in North Carolina. Some 4,400 jobs would be created in North Carolina during the construction phase, the letter states.
Once in operation, the pipeline “would ease constraints plaguing an interstate natural gas pipeline system that has reached its capacity, often leaving it unable to serve new, energy-intensive customers.”
The letter quotes a Dominion study indicating that through the year 2025, the pipeline would generate more than $60 million in property tax payments for North Carolina local governments.
The letter urges FERC to approve the pipeline,. The regulatory agency is currently reviewing a draft environmental impact statement on the project.
The comment period is open through Thursday, April 6.
To make comment in support of or in opposition to the pipeline project, people should send letters to Kimberly Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426 Docket Nos. CP15-554-000, CP15-555-001, CP15-554-001 but because the comment period will end so soon, a more assured means of commenting would be online at www.ferc.gov/help/how-to/ecomment.asp.
A final environmental impact statement could be approved. If it is, FERC could release a record of decision in the fall this year. If the commission gives its approval to the project, construction could begin as sometime between 2017 and 2019 with the pipeline being in service in 2019.