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Atlantic Coast Pipeline supporters speak out on survey

Atlantic Coast Pipeline supporters speak out on survey

Triangle Business Journal
by Lauren K. Ohnesorge

Proponents of the proposed 600-miles Atlantic Coast Pipeline spoke out on a conference call Monday, calling the project “critical” for West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.

They were responding to a new survey commissioned by the Consumer Energy Alliance that shows strong support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the politicians who support the project.

The survey, conducted by Hickman Analytics, found a majority of respondents support the pipeline’s construction. And, among voters in counties where the pipeline would be located, the support was found to be even higher. A total of 660 registered voters in North Carolina were surveyed via telephone for the report.

When compared to some previous surveys, support was down just slightly, a fact Hickman Analytics’ Harrison Hickman attributed to registered Democrats surveyed for the report.

“Since the Obama administration declined the certificate for the Keystone Pipeline, registered Democrats have become slightly more opposed to pipeline projects generally,” he said on the call Monday. “I think they may have extrapolated from the decision about Keystone a more generic feeling about pipelines.”

Half of North Carolina voters surveyed have heard of the project. That support was 60 percent in the pipeline counties. The report did find two thirds of North Carolinians believe pipelines are the safest way to transport natural gas.

Brett Vassey, CEA vice chair and Virginia Manufacturers Association President, called the project “critical” for its stakeholders - particularly as coal facilities are being shut down “and they are not coming back online.”

States that are able to compete with natural gas “are going to win the investments for the future,” he says.

“It is important for us that all the stakeholders work out the path challenges,” he says. “Those are real. We acknowledge those … but that should not stop this project.”

The project would sweep through eastern North Carolina roughly along the path of Interstate 95, slicing through counties such as Halifax, Wilson, Johnston and down to Robeson.

The project is expected to create more than 17,000 construction jobs as crews build out the pipeline, and Justin Meighan of the Laborers International Union of North America said he takes offense to the outlook that construction jobs are “temporary.”

“Construction is, by definition, temporary jobs,” he said. “It’s kind of insulting to the construction worker when we hear this called temporary jobs. … These jobs are great for increasing skill levels for workers. … These workers are local residents. They are the same people that go to church and schools in these neighborhoods and they’re going to build it in the most safe and efficient way possible.”

But, survey aside, for some of the North Carolina residents whose land is targeted for the pipeline, sentiment is poor.

Last month, rural residents along the pipeline’s path shared their thoughts with Triangle Business Journal.

“What are we all? Black folks who are retired,” said Alice Freeman, who expects to see the pipeline construction from her bedroom window. “They’re going to these communities because we are the people who have the least clout. We don’t have the money to fight them. We’re easy prey. And nobody is going to come to our defense.”

Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company are all backing the pipeline, and they have the support of several lawmakers.

The federal government is currently mulling the project's environmental assessment.

Read the full story in the Triangle Business Journal


Construction | Energy | FERC | Halifax County | Jobs | Johnston County | Natural Gas | North Carolina | Poll | Robeson County | Safety | Virginia | Voters | West Virginia | Wilson County