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Bill DeSteph & Frank Wagner: Pipeline will transform Hampton Roads economy

Bill DeSteph & Frank Wagner: Pipeline will transform Hampton Roads economy

“It really is a game changer for the entire region.”

That was Steven Wright, director of economic development for Chesapeake, talking about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in an article published a few weeks ago.

He’s exactly right. At a time when economic growth and job creation have never been more important, we have the opportunity to take a major step forward in Hampton Roads. By ensuring the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is built, we will have the dependable, domestic energy supply our businesses and families need.

The Hampton Roads region faces an energy-supply squeeze. Everyone remembers the extreme cold spell we had a few winters ago that put our entire region in a deep freeze. What you probably don’t know is that the demand for natural gas was so high that Virginia Natural Gas had to actually curtail service to major industrial customers just to ensure they could continue heating homes and powering commercial businesses.

That’s not a sustainable situation. And it’s not the kind of climate that will attract new employers to our region. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a solution to many of these challenges.

The first question any business or manufacturer will ask when considering any region is about energy availability. Is there a reliable and affordable supply that will enable them to be successful? Manufacturers, especially, need large quantities of natural gas to power their operations. The future of Hampton Roads, and our rapidly changing and diversifying economy, depends on our ability to answer yes to that question. Right now, that’s tough to do. But with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in place it will be easy.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline represents American energy for American consumers. No reliance on overseas markets or dangerous foreign regimes. Everyone talks about energy independence in theory, but it takes projects like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to make it a reality.

Because it’s a domestic project, Virginians will also benefit from the jobs it creates. Construction of the pipeline will employ more than 8,000 workers in Virginia. Once it’s constructed, it’s estimated that it will spur enough economic development to create more than 1,300 full-time jobs.

The pipeline alone will contribute $10.4 million in annual property tax revenue for Virginia localities. From 2018 to 2025, Suffolk will see more than $6.4 million in new revenue. Chesapeake will be the beneficiary of over $2.6 million. That’s millions of dollars that can go towards hiring new police officers, first responders and teachers; upgrading classrooms; and improving our roads.

It’s all the positive byproduct of bringing much-needed domestic energy into our communities. That’s a win-win.

When you consider the environmental benefits of natural gas, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline becomes a slam dunk. Natural gas produces half the carbon emissions of coal, and an even smaller fraction of the sulfur and nitrogen emissions generated by coal.

We need to reduce emissions. Everyone knows that. But we also need to keep the lights on at prices we can all afford, and deliver it safely and reliably. Natural gas checks every one of these boxes. It’s cleaner. It’s affordable. And it’s from right here in the United States.

For all these reasons, a broad bipartisan coalition is backing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The entire Hampton Roads delegation to the Virginia General Assembly — 20 Republicans and 13 Democrats — has strongly endorsed the project. We are joined by Gov. Terry McAuliffe and thousands of businesses, labor organizations and individuals from every walk of life across our region.

We are both honored to be a part of this coalition. For the sake of our economy, our environment, our energy security and the future of the region we love, we urge our fellow residents to join us in supporting this critical project.

Frank Wagner represents the 7th District in the Virginia Senate and is a candidate for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2017.
Bill DeSteph represents the 8th District in the state Senate. 

Read the full column and more from The Virginian-Pilot. 


Hampton Roads | Natural Gas | Tax Benefits | Virginia