BECKLEY, W.Va. — A natural gas pipeline that bisects West Virginia holds no promise of economic development here past construction, but the governor of Virginia says he’s depending on that pipeline to bring manufacturing back to a struggling area.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is slated to end in Pittsylvania County, Va., at about the mid-point of the Commonwealth’s long border with North Carolina.
An area that has seen tobacco, textiles and cotton mills ebb and flow with the economy is looking forward to the coming pipeline, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said last weekend at the National Governor’s Association meeting at The Greenbrier.
“I strongly support the pipeline,” McAuliffe said. However, McAuliffe said he has asked Dominion “to do it in a way that protects our environment and obviously our heritage and historic sites.” Dominion is constructing a pipeline that begins in North Central West Virginia and ends in the Norfolk-Hampton Roads area.
“You’ve got to understand I worry about Southside and southwest Virginia. These communities have lost coal jobs, they’ve lost textile, they’ve lost furniture, they’ve lost tobacco,” McAuliffe said. “The only way we’re going to bring jobs back to the region is to do it in a way that we can bring advanced manufacturing back.”
McAuliffe said the pipeline would give his state “some of the cheapest gas in America … it’s like a superhighway we’re able to spur off it to build an advanced manufacturing hub wherever we want it.”
The Virginia governor said the pipeline is “about jobs.”
“We can bring jobs back from China and Asia, because with cheap energy, the differential on labor costs is diminished,” McAuliffe said.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said West Virginia said the state where the gas originates should have similar perks.
Tomblin said the Eastern Panhandle needs natural gas for the same reasons Virginia does — economic development. The governor said Proctor and Gamble, on track to build a $500 million plant, “will take up any excess (gas) we had there.”
“My thoughts are if the gas line is going to go through, if it’s going to have off ramps in Virginia, then obviously we need to have the same off ramps here…