A program of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association

Industry poll finds little opposition to Atlantic Coast Pipeline

By Bill Holland | June 11,2015 | SNL

The closer voters live to Appalachian shale gas extraction, the more they favor building a pipeline to sell that gas somewhere else, judging from the results of a poll of West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina voters regarding the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline released June 11.

The poll, sponsored by the Consumer Energy Alliance, an umbrella group of energy consumers, found that 70% of West Virginians favor the natural gas pipeline designed to move Marcellus and Utica Shale gas extracted in and around their state south to utilities in Virginia and North Carolina.

Voters in those two states also favor the pipeline but not by such a wide margin, the poll said. Virginia voters favor it 56% to 25% and North Carolinians favor the Atlantic Coast line by 55% to 26%.

In West Virginia, where the gas is extracted, support for

the pipeline is almost across the board regardless of politics, the poll noted. The majority of self-described liberals, 52%, favor the line, Democrats and Republicans favor the pipeline by even larger margins, 67% and 79%.

Polarization begins at the Virginia border where only 43% of Democrats say they like the idea, compared to 74% of Republicans. The gap widens even further in North Carolina, where 76% of Republicans support the pipeline project compared to 41% of Democrats.

Jobs and the economy were the number one rationale in all three states for favoring the pipeline, the poll, conducted by Hickman Analytics, Inc. of Chevy Chase, Md., indicated, and the closer the voter was to the source rock, the more jobs were their first thought.

Job creation was the top reason for 47% of the West Virginians who support the pipeline, declining to 31% in Virginia, and then 19% in North Carolina.

The reasoning of opponents varied by state: in North Carolina, the most frequent response of those opposed was environmental concerns, 9%, followed by safety, 4%. In Virginia, those numbers were almost the same at 9% and 3%, respectively. In West Virginia, the most frequent reason for objecting was that the resource being developed wasn't coal, 4%. Although many of those polled indicated an opposition to hydraulic fracturing, most did not mention that opposition as why they were opposed to the pipeline.

The poll was conducted by telephone, including cell phone numbers, between June 2 and June 4, the pollsters said. It included 500 registered voters in Virginia and North Carolina, and 400 in West Virginia, with the sample size being adjusted to align with each state's demographics. The margin of error was 4.4 % in Virginia and North Carolina and 4.9% in West Virginia.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline was formed by Dominion Resources Inc.Duke Energy Corp.Piedmont Natural Gas Co. Inc. and AGL Resources Inc. Dominion Transmission Inc. is in charge of engineering and construction management for the pipeline

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