‘The best energy solution’

Published 2:01 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2016

am writing responding to Jordan Miles’ May 12 article “Pipeline ‘endangers’ Union Hill.” 

While in several areas we agree, I am writing to describe two differences, one specific, one general.

The specific difference we have regards tourism income as a reason to avoid pipeline construction. 

In his article, Miles quoted Preservation Virginia as stating, “When reviewing energy infrastructure proposals, state and local officials should first avoid sites eligible for historic listing.”

“State and local officials should recognize that like the utilities,” the article states, “heritage tourism is an economic driver that creates jobs and generates local and state revenue. Ensuring the integrity of these economic drivers should be balanced with the predictions made by the utility companies.” That’s fine — certainly laying a pipeline straight through Colonial Williamsburg might be a silly choice. 

But the annual tourism income of Buckingham County from Union Hill is roughly zero. There are no hotels, no bed and breakfasts, no taxis, no outlet malls and no theme parks to reap tourism revenue. Not too many tourists include Union Hill as a destination, and those few who do contribute little to the county economy because there’s almost no place for them to spend their money (except, perhaps, Yogaville).

Conversely, construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will yield Buckingham County the benefit of approximately $300 million in construction.

While some of that money will go outside county lines, many temporary laborers will be hired locally and the fuel and several hundred daily lunches needed to keep construction going will largely be bought near the construction sites. 

After the pipeline is finished, it will generate roughly $1.25 million annually in tax revenues for Buckingham County alone. Most importantly, the pipeline will reap an estimated $243 million in annual energy cost savings for Virginia. That’s almost $30 per person in Virginia. 

The benefits of construction massively outweigh any hypothetical loss of tourism revenue.

I agree, however, that construction must minimize adverse impacts on historical sites, Union Hill most certainly included. Luckily, laws and regulations guarantee that protection.

Our general difference, perhaps, is the overall merit of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. I see it as the environmentally responsible choice. 

For Virginia — and for our nation — this is the best energy solution.

Bill Wellman is a retired Navy officer living in Buckingham County. His email address is billwellmanusnret@yahoo.com.