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OP-ED: Pipeline offers long-term benefits

OP-ED: Pipeline offers long-term benefits

Cumberland Times-News

OP-ED, Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia Attorney General

We cannot delay progress — particularly with vital infrastructure — in West Virginia.

Earlier this year, I stood shoulder to shoulder with dozens of pipeliners, laborers and business leaders to underscore the importance of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to West Virginia.

The gathering, which packed our law library and had people flowing into the hallway, took place just days before the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on why a lower court ruling must be struck down.

As the Supreme Court prepares to issue its opinion, it is our hope that the justices will see the decision to halt the pipeline was dead wrong.

The construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is exactly the kind of economic stimulation West Virginia needs. Its construction would create jobs and attract businesses — bringing even more jobs to the state.

The incorrect decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has put thousands of men and women out of work. This cost our state at least 1,500 well-paying jobs. The people working them earn $25 to $40 an hour, plus per diem.

This terrible decision just exacerbates a perennial problem we have here in the Mountain State.

One labor leader previously told my office that West Virginia exports skilled construction workers.

He said, “Contrary to popular belief we do not have a shortage of skilled construction workers. We have a shortage of good-paying construction jobs like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will provide.”

Do the livelihoods of the hardworking men and women of West Virginia not matter.

And what about funding for our city and county governments?

Halting construction of the pipeline has hurt our state.

Recent figures show that West Virginia lost out on $478.7 million in wages and other income when construction was halted.

Too many hard-working families are hurting.

Had the pipeline gone on as scheduled, the five West Virginia counties through which it passes would have seen $15.6 million in economic activity every year. Once construction was complete, operation of the pipeline would have generated $59.2 million of local property tax revenue by 2025.

These are real jobs for hard-working people.

As for any environmental impact to the Appalachian Trail, this argument is a red herring.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is 600 miles long. It crosses the trail in only one location and that section is only 1/10 of a mile in length.

The pipeline stops more than three football fields short of the trail on the Augusta County, Virginia, side and comes out a distance of 10 football fields past the trail on the Nelson County, Virginia, side.

Not only does the pipeline never touch the trail, but it will be buried two football fields beneath the trail.

There can be a reconciliation of economic and environmental concerns. We do not have to sacrifice jobs to protect the Appalachian Trail — especially when the project at hand does not threaten the trail to begin with.

West Virginia is proud to lead the fight to protect jobs and support a project that will fuel and invigorate the economy.

The stance of our 18-state coalition cannot be ignored. These state leaders want to see a sound court decision, a stronger economy, more residents gainfully employed and more tax revenue for their municipalities.

Construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is the boost our state needs to reach her full potential.

Patrick Morrisey is the Attorney General of West Virginia.

Read more in the Cumberland Times-News.