OPINION: Build it for the nation and West Virginia

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OPINION: Build it for the nation and West Virginia

WV News

Opinion

We’ve written on it many times, but it bears repeating: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is very much needed.

And its developers, led by Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, have done well in finding the way forward on this key pipeline that will take gas from the rich Marcellus and Utica shale basins to marketplaces in the South.

The pipeline has met numerous obstacles, but continues to overcome each one with perseverance and determination. The latest example was Monday’s resounding victory at the U.S. Supreme Court, where a 7-2 majority deemed the developers had indeed followed the proper procedures in obtaining permission to pass under the Appalachian Trail.

Once again, we find the developers have worked earnestly to find ways to proceed with the pipeline while keeping environmental concerns of high importance.

And as they successfully argued, dozens of other pipelines have already crossed the trail without harm.

“For decades, more than 50 other pipelines have safely crossed the trail without disturbing its public use. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be no different,” ACP spokeswoman Ann Nallo told The Hill.

“To avoid impacts to the trail, the pipeline will be installed hundreds of feet below the surface and emerge more than a half mile from each side of the trail. There will be no construction activity on or near the trail itself, and the public will be able to continue enjoying the trail as they always have.”

Nallo told WV News that the developers continue efforts to ramp up pipeline construction.

“We are working with the federal agencies to resolve other pending permits, and are looking forward to resuming construction later this year,” she said. “Agreements with contractors, craft and trade workers remain in place, and we will be able to quickly ramp up construction again once the necessary permits are approved.”

But there remain obstacles to overcome, as opponents have vowed to continue the fight.

As we’ve said before, we can understand, to a point, the concerns raised by some environmental groups and residents. But at the same time, the fact that developers remain resolute in their commitment of time and money points to an obvious need for the natural gas to flow south.

If there wasn’t demand, and thus the ability to make money on the project, developers would have walked away. But they haven’t and recently announced revised plans with the goal of finishing the project by 2022.

At a cost of more than $8 billion, the project is a huge investment for both energy leaders, and it’s a huge boon to the economies of the regions through which the pipeline passes.

Thousands of jobs had been created when the pipeline began, and they will return as the pipeline is allowed to proceed. And those jobs pump millions of dollars into local economies, from hotel rooms to meals and entertainment.

Labor and business have joined together as strong advocates of the pipeline because both sides see the value and impact.

Steve White, director of Affiliated Construction Trades, told Charles Young of WV News that the pipeline will lead to job creation for West Virginians.

“Our construction worker members and their families are breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing they have a great job with benefits building the ACP,” he said. “In these uncertain times, with construction unemployment at very high levels, our folks are ready to go to work.”

Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, told WV News after Monday’s decision that it was “a big win for economic development and the energy security of the United States.”

“We have many hardworking West Virginians who are eager to get back to work on this vital project. This decision leads to good incomes for these workers and helps advance the cause of securing our country’s energy security,” he said.

Opponents will continue to use every opportunity to slow or end the pipeline’s progress.

Their ultimate goal appears to be to wear down the developers and make it so costly they’ll back away. Opponents, many of whom also believe solar and wind should be the preferable energy choice, likely hope to allow those sources a competitive advantage as they try to find ways to become more mainstream and affordable.

But time and again, the numbers show that neither solar or wind are to the point where they can replace natural gas, or for that matter coal.

Are they becoming more of the answers to the puzzle? Absolutely.

But as we’ve championed before, it is clear that the best U.S. energy policy includes an “all-in” approach with natural gas and coal remaining viable for the foreseeable future.

With this approach, the United States has gained and can maintain energy independence, a key strategic development for our national security and one that must remain the ultimate goal.

And over time, that strategy will be the most efficient and financially sound approach. Eliminating, or even cutting back on the use of natural gas at this point, has been shown to be too cost prohibitive and unstable.

With that in mind, we’re resolute in our support of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and hopeful developers will meet their goal of 2022. For the Mountain State economy and U.S. energy plan, it can’t come soon enough.

Read more in the WV News.