Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) today launched plans for a 550-mile natural gas pipeline that will traverse through three states, triggering a loud chorus of condemnation from environmentalists who had thought that he backed their cause.
Dominion Resources and three other energy firms will invest nearly $5 billion to construct the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that will cross through Highland, Nelson and Augusta counties in Virginia as it snakes eastwards. The pipeline will also pass through North Carolina and West Virginia.
Ironically, McAuliffe backs the project despite riding on the support of Tom Steyer, a megadonor who is fiercely opposed to the Keystone XL oil pipeline, to win last year’s elections.
Besides Dominion Resources, other partners that form the consortium include AGL Resources, EVP Distribution Operations and Virginia Natural Gas. The six-year project, which is yet to be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is expected to initially generate 8,800 new job opportunities.
Once the project is complete, about 217 jobs are needed for the maintenance of the pipeline, says Christine Chmura, the chief economist at Richmond, VA-based Chmura Economics & Analytics, which analyzed the economic impact of the project. She also projected the pipeline will earn Virginia $14.6 million in tax revenue, and that no state funds will be used in the project.
When asked how he will handle the opposing viewpoints, McAuliffe said that policy supersedes politics, adding that the project will reduce energy costs for state residents, create jobs and help close aging coal plants.
“We’re talking jobs, economic development and it’s good for the environment,” said McAuliffe, according to the Washington Post. “In addition, this will allow Dominion, who has coal plants that are 50, 60 years old, which they plan on shutting down — this a lot less emissions. So what we’re doing today is great for the environment. . . . This is a win-win today for everybody.”
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