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New business-oriented group sponsored by pipeline developers supports Atlantic Coast Pipeline

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The battle for public opinion for a proposed 550-mile natural gas pipeline is heating up.

Opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that would pass through Virginia and two other states has been well organized and vocal. On Wednesday, supporters of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline fought back.
They’re cranking up their voices and strategy via a new coalition sponsored by the companies that want to develop the pipeline:  Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont, and AGL Resources.

A group of more than 100 businesses joined labor organizations, and other local, state and national groups to announce the formation of EnergySure – Standing Up for Reliable Energy. According to the group, the founding members represent millions of employees, leading employers and business organizations across Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Virginia State Building & Construction Trades, MeadWestvaco and Huntington Ingalls Industries are among 50 businesses and organizations in Virginia to join EnergySure.
The coalition said in a press release that  formed to "stand up" for reliable energy and demonstrate the broad support for the pipeline, designed to meet growing energy needs in Virginia and North Carolina.

Other Virginia members include:  Appalachian Power Co., Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance, Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Manufacturers Association, Virginia Natural Gas, Columbia Gas of Virginia, Virginia Oil & Gas Association, Virginia Port Authority and many economic development groups and chambers of commerce.

Among that latter group is Virginia's Gateway Region , Franklin Southampton Economic Development, Inc. and  Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce,  the Fredericksburg Regional Alliance, Greater Richmond Partnership, Greater Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce  the Halifax County Economic Development Commission, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the
Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe.

Over the next 20 years, the group said demand for natural gas as a fuel for power generation in Virginia and North Carolina is projected to more than triple. Meanwhile, older coal-fired power plants are scheduled for retirement – reducing capacity to generate electricity. “Increased access to cleaner-burning natural gas is needed to make our region energy sure,” the group said. 

According to studies commissioned by the project’s developers, the pipeline is expected to generate significant economic benefits across the three-state region, including more than 17,000 jobs, $2.7 billion in economic activity and $4.2 million in average annual local tax revenue during construction.

The studies have said that in Virginia alone, construction will support 8,800 jobs and result in $1.4 billion in economic activity. Once in operation, the pipeline is expected to result in nearly $38 million in economic activity, support 1,300 jobs and, by 2022, generate $10.4 million in local tax revenue in 13 counties and cities along the route.

“It’s going to create approximately 17,000 construction jobs,” Matt Yonka, president of the Virginia State Building and Construction Trades, said in a statement. “It will open the door to bringing new industry to the state of Virginia. If you have the power source, you have the ability to build more and bring more industry.”

Pipeline opponents, such as Friends of Nelson, have countered the economic studies, saying they don’t address an array of possible losses.

In a recent salvo against the pipeline, Friends of Nelson listed things such as loss of property values to landowners, the loss of natural scenic value, the costs to water, soil and personal property in the event of an explosion or accident, the costs of repairing roads damaged by heavy truck traffic during construction and the loss of property rights through possible exercise of eminent domain should the project win approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
EnergySure pointed out that a recent poll commissioned by the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) showed registered voters in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina overwhelmingly support construction of the pipeline by more than a 2-to-1 margin. Supporters cited jobs and the economy, the increased use of natural gas, energy independence, and lower natural gas prices as key reasons for their support.

Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont, and AGL Resources said they are sponsoring the coalition to provide a platform for informed discussions about the project.

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