Less than two weeks ago, voters in West Virginia overwhelmingly approved new and better roads and bridges for the Mountain State with passage of the “Roads to Prosperity” bond amendment.
The message from state voters and taxpayers was, “We want better transportation infrastructure, more investment and more jobs in West Virginia.”
Perhaps one can apply that message, as well, to how citizens feel about the region’s energy infrastructure. West Virginians know the state is sitting on billions of dollars in revenue with Marcellus shale-based natural gas, tapped into and ready for delivery, but lacking adequate transportation systems to move it to markets across the East.
But with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval late Friday of the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines and the $8.6 billion in regional investment those will bring, the state’s revenue situation, job prospects and future are looking better.
What’s more, the pipelines and the approximately 3.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day they will add to the nation’s energy market will keep downward pressure on energy prices — helping ensure the price for natural gas used in homes, businesses and power-generating stations will stay competitive.
The approval of the pipelines is a big win for the economy, a big win for West Virginia and the region, and a big win for common-sense energy use.
Sure, there is a small but vocal population of opponents who don’t believe we should use the nation’s safest, cleanest and most abundant fossil fuel for energy. But with these pipelines and other energy infrastructure projects, economies will grow, new jobs in construction and manufacturing will be created, and payroll, royalty and tax revenue will rise.
And with a growing economy, the opportunities to develop and use more renewable fuels should grow, too.
Two of the three sitting FERC commissioners — both appointees of President Donald Trump — voted to approve the pipeline projects. The lone Obama-nominated commissioner, Cheryl LaFleur, opposed.
“In her dissent, Commissioner LaFleur noted that more than 90 percent of the [Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s] capacity is subscribed by public utility customers in [Virginia and North Carolina],” wrote Leslie Hartz of Dominion Energy, the primary sponsor of the Atlantic Coast project.
“The end use of this gas is well established on the public record ... Our public utility customers are depending on this infrastructure to generate cleaner electricity, heat homes and power local businesses.”
Hartz added that the project received more thorough environmental review than ever done before. “This unprecedented scrutiny should give assurance to all communities that their voices have been heard and that the project will be built in a way that protects public safety and the environment.”
Opponents warn of environmental destruction new pipelines could cause, but the existing 300,000 miles of interstate natural gas pipelines approved and built under far less scrutiny across North America operate without the massive degradation they claim.
Unlike the West Virginia road bond, which will be paid for by the state’s taxpayers, the pipelines are being funded by private investment, yet they will keep energy prices competitive for all.
Congratulations to the project developers on their research, planning and work in getting the projects approved. Even bigger congratulations to the thousands of people who will get jobs, the states that will see increased tax revenue, and the energy consumers who will see better rates and more choice.