A program of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association

Local lawmakers: Pipelines could have economic benefits

By Charles Boothe | Bluefield Daily Telegraph | February 8, 2018

BLUEFIELD — Two natural gas pipelines originating in the state could mean economic benefits for all residents, local legislators say.

Both pipelines, Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), will start in the Marcellus Formation shale fields in north central West Virginia.

The MVP is a 303-mile, 42-inch diameter, $3.5 billion line that will end in Chatham, Va. and run through both Monroe and Giles counties. The ACP is 600 miles long and will end in North Carolina.

Although the pipelines have faced stiff opposition from residents in many of the counties impacted, including Monroe and Giles counties, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has given both the green light.

Del. John Shott (R-Mercer County) said the lines will bring opportunities, not only for tax revenue but for other state uses.

“That opens up the market,” he said. “We really need to use more of it in the state.”

Shott said the byproducts of natural gas can be used in the chemical industries in Charleston and the gas can be used for manufacturing.

Natural gas is a cheaper and more environmentally friendly energy source.

State Sen. Chandler Swope (R-6th District) also supports the pipelines, saying they will

provide an economic boost.

“They will create jobs (during construction) and provide gas severance tax revenue,” he said.

Both Swope and Shott said all residents in the state will eventually benefit from the revenue generated by the pipelines.

Last month, the ACP was given the approval by FERC to begin tree felling for the line and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Control approved the erosion and sediment control permit.

The MVP has also been given the green light by FERC and a Notice to Proceed with construction was filed with FERC on Monday.

Environmental impact studies have been completed, reviewed and modified as the route has been tweaked.

Each project is slated to begin this year and finished next year.

But the process has been a slow one, filled with protests regarding the impact on the environment and water tables as well as the danger of an explosion.

Maury Johnson, a Monroe County farmer in Greenville, said at a protest last year the MVP would “destroy” the Appalachian Trail as it crosses Peters Mountain.

The abundance of springs and caves in the county could be impacted by the line as well, he said.

But Swope said he has no concerns about the impact.

“We have adequate environmental regulations in place to protect the environment,” he said.

Property rights have also been a concern as many landowners have refused permission for pipeline surveyors to enter their property or to sell easements.

However, the law of eminent domain, when a project is approved because it is for the public good, has been used in the courts to force property owners to cooperate.

Del. Marty Gearheart (R-Mercer County) said he sees the economic benefit of the pipelines, but property owners should be treated with respect.

“They should receive an appropriate compensation (for the easements),” he said.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com.

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