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Poll cites ‘majority’ favor

A new poll says a majority of Virginia voters support constructing the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).

According to the summary of the poll, which was conducted by Hickman Analytics, Inc. and paid for by Consumer Energy Alliance, “voters overwhelmingly believe pipelines are the safest means to transport natural gas. By a large margin, voters say they are more likely to vote for candidates who favor construction of natural gas infrastructure projects than candidates who oppose them.”

Five hundred registered voters were polled by telephone, according to a report from the firm, with a 4.4 percent margin of error.

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.

Aaron Ruby

“The Consumer Energy Alliance poll released this morning once again confirms that the overwhelming majority of West Virginians, Virginians and North Carolinians support the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” said Dominion spokesman Aaron Ruby. “While a small minority of opponents has received disproportionate attention, the vast majority of people in the region want to see this pipeline built. Their voices deserve to be heard. They want a cleaner environment, lower energy bills and more economic opportunity.”

“The Consumer Energy Alliance, which receives funding from Dominion Energy and other companies invested in the ACP, (has) a financial interest in seeing the ACP go forward,” said Chad Oba, chair of Friends of Buckingham, a group opposed to the project. “Once again, follow the money. Further, most people asked are not aware of the full impact of the ACP and other pipeline projects in Virginia.”

According to the “key findings” portion of the poll memorandum, “A majority (53 percent) of Virginia voters report having heard about the proposed Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline which would (begin in West Virginia and end in North Carolina). A majority of Virginia voters support the pipeline project: 54 percent support, 31 percent oppose. The breadth of support is impressive. A wide majority of men (65 percent support, 23 percent oppose) support the pipeline as do a plurality of women (45 percent support, 38 percent oppose).”

“When an accurate count of concerned citizens’ letters and comments to (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC) was made during the ‘scoping’ phase of the ACP certification, it was found that over 75 percent of the thousands of submissions were against the ACP,” said Joseph Jeeva Abbate, who lives in Yogaville and represents Yogaville Environmental Solutions. “Of those submissions that voiced concerns over the ACP, more than 90 percent noted that the pipeline would be bad for the Virginia economy, bad for Virginia forests, bad for Virginia water, bad for Virginia citizens’ health, bad for Virginia citizens’ safety and bad for Virginia cultural and historic land.”

In January, county supervisors approved a special use permit for a hotly-contested 53,783-horsepower station, slated to be constructed between Shelton Store and Union Hill roads on Route 56.

The compressor station — which would help push gas along the pipeline — was approved with 41 conditions, including horsepower limits, emergency response, air quality studies and emissions tests, installation of fire breaks, a backup emergency communications system, compliance with the permit, staffing, noise and use of silencers. The staffing condition included one staff member to be on site 24/7 for the first year.

The 5-0-2 decision came after 76 people spoke during a public hearing on the permit application. Seven of the 76 spoke in favor of the permit while the remainder that spoke opposed the measure.

“This is a broken bridge to an uncertain future that will delay the deployment of much cleaner energy that is possible right now,” Oba said in her statement regarding the poll.

In late December, FERC, which has regulatory approval of the project, released its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) regarding the proposed pipeline, concluding the project’s impact would be “less than significant.” The final EIS will be available in June.

Following a March public hearing, the Buckingham County Planning Commission voted 7-0-1 to recommend the county’s board of supervisors approve a special use permit that would allow Dominion Energy to erect a communications tower on the premises of the proposed compressor station.

Ruby said the majority of voters who support the ACP “want the tens of thousands of new jobs and new manufacturing industries the pipeline will bring to the region. They understand that it takes new infrastructure like the ACP to make that possible.”