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Legislative leaders lend support to pipeline project

Bipartisan leadership of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina legislatures are urging approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

In a letter sent Tuesday, April 4 to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Republican and Democratic leaders of the Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina General Assemblies announced their support for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and urged the federal agency to approve the project.

According to a press release, the letter was signed by 16 Republican and Democratic leaders from both houses of the three state legislatures.

Those signing the letter included retiring House Speaker Del. William J. Howell, House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox, Hampton Roads Caucus Vice Chair Del. Matthew James, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr. and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Richard S. Saslaw.

“As leaders of the West Virginia Senate and House of Delegates; Virginia Senate and House of Delegates and North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives, we respectfully ask the commission to approve the pending application for a major project that holds great potential to improve the economies and supply of energy in our states: the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” the Republican and Democratic leaders wrote in the letter.

The ACP project — being led by Dominion — is a 600-mile natural gas pipeline that would begin in West Virginia, span Virginia and end in North Carolina. A 42-inch pipeline would span Buckingham County, and cross Cumberland and Prince Edward counties. The project has been hotly contested in Buckingham County.

“For the people of our states, the project holds the promise of thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars of new economic activity and lower energy prices,” leaders said in the letter “Additionally, we believe the pipeline would protect our region’s environment by making clean-burning natural gas more available for the production of electricity.”

In the letter, the Republican and Democratic leaders addressed the environmental impacts of pipeline construction.

“We are also very encouraged by the commission staff’s findings in the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) assessing the project. The draft EIS, in our opinion, conclusively demonstrates that construction and operation of the ACP would pose no threat to our states’ priceless natural resources,” leaders said in the letter.

The letter highlights economic benefits the project could bring to the region, including $2.7 billion in economic activity and more than 17,000 new jobs generated during pipeline construction and more than $190 million in new property tax revenue that will be generated for local governments through the year 2025.

The letter also focuses on the long-term economic benefits of the project.

“In West Virginia, the ACP would promote the continued growth of natural gas production, particularly from the Marcellus and Utica shale fields,” leaders state in the letter. “The pipeline would directly link these supplies to rapidly growing southeastern markets. And in Virginia and North Carolina, the pipeline would ease constraints plaguing an interstate natural gas pipeline system that has reached its capacity, often leaving it unable to serve new, energy-intensive customers. This has severely hampered our ability to attract new businesses, particularly modern manufacturing operations. The pipeline’s operation would greatly improve our states’ competitive positions and provide a significant boost to our economic development efforts.”

The letter was sent to FERC as part of the public comment period for the draft EIS for the proposed project.