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WVONGA says pipelines mean more drilling


The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va.  — About $8.5 billion worth of new pipeline infrastructure may help unleash West Virginia’s oil and natural industry, but environmental advocacy groups vow to continue the fight against both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

A horse grazes near a Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas pipeline project. After years of discussion, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week approved the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the $3.5 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline.
(Intelligencer photo by Casey Junkins)
“The approval of these projects marks a milestone in the evolution of West Virginia’s natural gas industry and offers the promise of economic opportunity for the state and its residents for generations to come,” said Anne Blankenship, who serves as executive director of the Mountain State’s Oil and Natural Gas Association.

“Greenlighting the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines doesn’t advance West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina communities — it threatens them by pumping fracked gas through them, releasing methane every step of the way,” countered Kelly Martin of the San Francisco-based Sierra Club.

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted permits for the massive interstate pipeline projects, both of which have evoked strong opinions since developers announced intentions to build them a few years ago. As envisioned, the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline, developed by Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources, is to 42 inches in diameter. It is expected to connect from Tyler County to run southward through West Virginia and Virginia with the mission of delivering natural gas to North Carolina.

The $3-plus billion Mountain Valley Pipeline, developed by EQT Corp., would run 303 miles southward from the MarkWest Energy Mobley complex in Wetzel County to a compressor station in Virginia.

“This new infrastructure will allow our state to more fully develop its natural gas resources, leading to more jobs throughout the economy,” Blankenship said. “FERC’s approval of these projects signal the start of what may be one of the largest private sector infrastructure investments in West Virginia’s history, providing tens of thousands of jobs and tremendous economic investment for the state.”

Leslie Hartz is vice president of engineering and construction for Dominion, one of the ACP’s chief developers. She called the FERC approval a significant milestone that will lead to “a growing economy, a cleaner environment and lower energy costs for consumers and businesses across the region.”

Martin, however, disagrees. She said the U.S. should focus on promoting more solar and wind power, as opposed to fracking.

“Despite the talking points of the fossil fuel industry and FERC, fracked gas is not a clean fuel or the future,” she said “Building these antiquated, expensive, and dangerous projects only locks us into to the dirty and dangerous fuels of the last century when we should be investing in clean energy.”

However, Blankenship said safety precautions will be taken to minimize risk to the environment.

“These crucially important projects have been planned and studied exhaustively for several years — and will offer transportation for West Virginia-produced natural gas to markets across the Southeast,” she said.

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