The West Virginia economy and that of the surrounding area got some much-needed good news last week when the staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released a positive environmental impact statement for Dominion Energy’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The move is all but the final approval needed for the 600-mile, $5 billion investment in new energy capacity.
If approved by the FERC in the coming months, pipeline construction — and the 17,000 jobs it will provide in three states — could begin in the fall.
But the pipeline project is not just about temporary construction jobs. It’s about greater access to clean-burning, affordable energy for consumers across the East Cost. It’s about increased possibilities for manufacturers in the area to obtain a much-needed fuel to grow their business.
It’s about generating revenue for West Virginia and surrounding states as tremendous reserves of natural gas currently tapped into — but with nowhere to go — will begin moving, generating severance taxes for the state and royalties for mineral owners — many of them small farmers and landowners.
It’s about making use of American energy and — along with with other pipeline projects proposed for the region — adding to the potential for the United States to export increasing amounts of natural gas. This will boost American profitability, while reducing the influence of Russia as an energy provider to Europe and the world.
“It’s a culmination of 150 pages of report, 75,000 public comments, 300 route adjustments that we’ve been making over the last three years,” Bob Orndorff, Dominion’s West Virginia managing director told Hoppy Kercheval Monday on Metronews Talkline.
A vocal group of opponents, largely environmental activists, don’t agree that the pipeline is good. Many say the state and country should move toward renewable fuels like solar and wind for future energy needs.
Yet those renewable sources of power are increasing their share of the total energy mix. And construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline won’t change that.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the renewable share of energy production in the United States in 2016 was 10.5 percent. “This was the largest renewable share since the 1930s, when overall energy consumption was lower and the amount of biomass consumption (mainly wood) was relatively high,” the EIA reports.
Still, the share of energy fossil fuels provided in the United States last year — even at it’s lowest percentage in a century — was 81 percent.
Renewable energy can and will increase its production capacity and its share of the U.S. energy mix in the coming years. And that’s good.
Yet believing renewables can replace fossil fuels in our lifetimes or our grandchildren’s lifetimes is a pipe dream. And the West Virginia economy and energy users in the United States don’t need pipe dreams.
They need pipelines. Pipelines bring in revenue, increase jobs and growth, and help increase the availability and decrease the cost of clean energy.
West Virginia looks forward to full final FERC approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Read the full story in the Charleston Gazette-Mail