Nelson County Times
by Emily Brown
In a letter submitted Tuesday to the federal agency reviewing the project, 16 legislators from affected states asked for approval of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, highlighting potential economic and other benefits for their residents.
According to the legislators, who represent both houses in each West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, the three states through which the proposed 600-mile pipeline would run, the ACP would “improve the economies and supply of energy in our states.”
“The project represents a much-needed addition to our nation’s energy infrastructure,” the letter reads.
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The letter is signed by leadership from the West Virginia Senate and House of Delegates; Virginia Senate and House of Delegates; and the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives.
Virginia leaders who endorsed the letter include House Speaker William Howell, House Majority Leader Kirkland Cox, Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, Senate Minority Leader Richard Saslow and Vice Chair of the Hampton Roads Caucus Matthew James.
In West Virginia, the Senate and House of Delegates majority and minority leaders all have signed the letter, along with the Senate president and minority whip.
North Carolina legislators endorsing the letter include the speaker and majority leader of the House of Representatives, the Senate president pro tempore and minority leader, and the chair of the Mainstreet Democrats.
“In the words of Virginia Governor [Terry] McAuliffe, the pipeline would be a ‘game changer,’” the letter says. “We agree.”
Opponents of the pipeline in Nelson County and elsewhere maintain the project would leave lasting negative effects on the environment and residents.
In Nelson, Dominion, the energy company leading the project, took dozens of property owners to court to gain surveying access, as many of the landowners are afraid their land would be scarred by right-of-way clearings. Additionally, multiple opposition groups believe the pipeline could affect the environment negatively if approved, though Dominion has said it will employ techniques to ensure natural resources and residents remain safe.
Citing a study by Chmura Economics & Analytics, the letter says the project “holds the promise of thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions of new economic activity and lower energy prices.”
According to the study, Virginia would benefit from $1.4 billion in economic activity.
Dominion Spokesman Aaron Ruby said an estimated 19,200 jobs would be created during and after construction of the pipeline up and down the route. Additionally, at peak construction in 2018, 7,000 workers will be employed to build the pipeline.
In Virginia, more than 10,000 jobs during and after construction should be created.
“The new jobs would offer hope and opportunity to thousands of hard-working men and women in our states,” the legislators say in the letter. “Although we have strived to promote economic growth and provide new jobs for our citizens, the recovery from the last decade’s recession has been weak and progress has often been slow. Construction of the ACP would quickly improve that situation.”
According to Dominion, through 2025, the pipeline would generate more than $70 million in property tax payments in Virginia. In Nelson County, which would be crossed by about 27 miles of the pipeline, property tax revenues would total about $1.2 million.
An additional $120 million in property tax revenue would be generated in West Virginia and North Carolina.
Additionally, the legislators say in the letter the draft environmental impact statement, released by FERC in December, demonstrates the ACP would pose “no threat to our states’ priceless natural resources.” They added the pipeline “would protect our region’s environment by making clean-burning natural gas more available.”
“In short, construction and operation of the ACP represents a tremendous new opportunity for our states, and particularly for our working people. The benefits would be felt in many ways: job creation, economic growth, improved energy reliability, new revenues for local governments,” the letter reads.
FERC has said it will release a final environmental impact statement in June and should make a decision on whether to approve the project by early fall.
Read the full story in the Nelson County Times