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The approximately 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline is designed to make our region energy sure by connecting us to an abundant supply of affordable, cleaner-burning natural gas.

Pipeline delays hurting economic recovery

Pipeline delays hurting economic recovery
LAWRENCEVILLE, Virginia – This Brunswick County, Virginia, town was once thriving, part of a small community of about 16,000 people with good jobs and community services. But in recent years, it has seen a decline.

Ivan Hargrove, lead pastor of Refuge Temple Ministries, hoped the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline could help bring development back to the tight-knit community thanks to the growth and economic benefits that planners, government officials and business leaders know the pipeline will bring in its wake.

But the project has been delayed in the courts since December 2018, putting jobs, growth and the return of prosperity to communities like Brunswick County on the line.

Hargrove said St. Paul’s College, a traditionally black school tracing its roots to 1888, provided jobs, education and an economic impact in Brunswick County that helped support a day care center, Head Start program and a local Christian academy.

Then, in 2013, St. Paul’s closed, taking the Head Start program, day care and school with it.

“Ever since there has been the closing of St. Paul’s, we have been yearning for some economic growth and some economic development,” Hargrove said. “St. Paul’s was pretty much the heartbeat of our economy here in Brunswick County. Once they closed there was a domino effect….”

When Hargrove found out the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline was coming through neighboring Buckingham County, he and other community leaders saw an opportunity to partner with their neighbors and attract some of the jobs and growth associated with the pipeline. 

“I’ve met with some of the members that are involved in doing the liaison work with Dominion [Energy] and the different communities,” Hargrove said. “That has all been very positive, and it makes me excited just to be part of it because they have convinced me and others … that not only is it a good thing to have natural gas (from) an energy perspective, but also it would be a good thing for the communities that it’s going to come through for economic development.”

That economic impact could help Hargrove’s county more than most. “First and foremost, because we are one of the lower income communities in the state of Virginia, if not the lowest,” he said. “And because there is no real industry here in this community right now.”

Hargrove said the hopes of the community have been dampened by the court delay.

“It took a lot of wind out of our sails,” he said. “People are still anticipating and waiting for the opportunity (provided by the pipeline) but meanwhile they’re just doing the best that they can….”

“I don’t see where us working against one another, us opposing an opportunity such as this is going to further anyone’s opportunity in any one community,” Hargrove said. “Dominion Energy is doing a good thing by providing another type of energy effort, and not only are they doing that, but they’re also pouring back into those communities.

“I think we, working together, can get a lot more done, and a lot more accomplished, and a lot more development, than us working against one another.”


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