The News Virginian
by Bob Stuart
WAYNESBORO – Virginia labor and business organizations are reaching out to candidates for statewide office to tell them of their support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
All six major party candidates for Virginia governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general were written this week by more than three dozen Virginia labor and business organizations and told of their support for the pipeline.
The letter, dated Tuesday, tells the political candidates of the economic and environmental benefits the natural gas pipeline would bring to Virginia, and urges the candidates’ support.
The letter states that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a “once-in-a-generation’’ solution to the natural gas needs of one of Virginia’s largest metropolitan areas, Hampton Roads. The letter says that region’s “natural gas pipeline infrastructure is fully tapped and unable to support’’ potential new industries needed to replace jobs lost by sequestration.
Additionally, the letter says the two-year construction of the pipeline would support 8,800 jobs and generate $1.4 billion in economic activity.
The pipeline project is now before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is expected to render a decision on a final environmental impact statement this month, according to Dominion Energy Spokesman Aaron Ruby. Dominion is the lead utility in the project. Final approval of the application for the pipeline would follow the final environmental statement.
The 600-mile pipeline would start in West Virginia, flow through Virginia and end in North Carolina. The path of the project includes 55 miles of Augusta County.
Offering support in the letter to the candidates are numerous labor organizations representing Virginia electrical workers, elevator constructors, iron workers, asbestos and insulators as well as several chambers of commerce and Virginia FREE, a non-partisan, nonprofit pro-business advocacy organization.
The executive director of Virginia FREE, former House District 20 Del. Chris Saxman, said the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would offer substantial economic development and lower energy prices for the working poor.
Saxman offered this point: “If you can get labor and business on the same side of an issue, it’s probably a good project."
Nancy Sorrells is the co-chair of the Augusta County Alliance, which opposes the pipeline. She said the pipeline will be a "job killer'' for both Augusta County and western Virginia.
She said the 75-foot easement crossing commercial land in Stuarts Draft will assure "that nothing can be built'' on that land. And on Augusta County agricultural land, Sorrells said the pipeline right-of-way crossing that land will assure that no homes can be built and none of the affected land subdivided.
"There will be no housing and no jobs,'' she said. "[The pipeline] will be a job killer for the people of western Virginia."
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