Dec. 20–There are about 4,500 skilled craftspeople in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina trained, able and ready to work right now. But instead, they are idled.
These folks would be working, earning paychecks, paying taxes and buying groceries and presents for a big family Christmas. Instead, they are awaiting for word of when — or if — their jobs will resume.
These are the skilled and trained construction workers who were hired to work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a much needed stretch of safe, quiet, clean underground infrastructure that will boost West Virginia’s economy for lifetimes while delivering reliable, affordable, clean energy for use in North Carolina and the Southeast.
Grinches cause delay
That pipeline project, like dozens of others planned and/or under construction across the United States, is delayed thanks to a small but vocal group of green grinches.
The grinches don’t want these workers to have jobs. The grinches don’t want the U.S. economy to produce safe, abundant, affordable energy.
The grinches want to keep America’s abundant energy supplies of natural gas and other natural fuels in the ground, hoping to force the development, installation and use of even greener energy supplies, no matter how much more expensive and less reliable that would be.
To their point, a national policy to promote the development and use of renewable energy is a worthwhile goal. But not to the point of halting the development, transportation and use of existing abundant, affordable clean energy supplies that are providing an unprecedented boost to the American economy.
The grinches are going full throttle to halt development and use of the energy they don’t like, without regard to the negative impact of their efforts on others.
America needs energy reliability
Do you care about the poor being able to heat their homes? Do you think electricity should be supplied reliably and at affordable rates? If so, then you are on the side of the folks who are following the law to build and operate an expanded network of safe underground pipelines that transport energy from producing areas to consuming areas.
Specifically to Atlantic Coast Pipeline — in one of many court appeals made by the grinches to delay the pipeline’s construction — the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the U.S. Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act and National Forest Management Act when it issued two key approvals for the pipeline. The decision “vacated” the approvals, causing work on the pipeline, particularly in relation to its crossing of the Appalachian Trail, to be suspended indefinitely.
The court and grinches ignored the fact that 56 pipelines already safely and cleanly cross the Appalachian Trail at 66 separate crossings.
The grinches can’t stop pipeline approvals because pipeline developers follow lengthy and complex laws and regulations in the design, planning, construction and operation of pipelines. The grinches generally lose their court cases, but only after long and costly court battles. Their tactic is to repeatedly delay, hoping project developers will give up.
But the folks the grinches are hurting are the hard-working Americans who depend on pipelines for jobs and the rest of us who depend on reliable, affordable energy.
Hindering economic growth
In fact, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Energy Institute released a report this week showing the “keep it in the ground” anti-energy movement has prevented at least $91.9 billion in domestic economic activity and eliminated nearly 730,000 job opportunities, while also preventing the generation of more than $20 billion in tax revenue.
Like so many other pipelines that are being delayed, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is critical to the region’s economic and environmental future. The project will bring cleaner, more affordable and reliable electricity to millions, will replace coal-powered electricity with gas, and will grow the economy through lower energy costs and new manufacturing.
But the grinches don’t care. Their hearts — along with their reasoning — are two sizes too small.
The problem can be fixed with permitting process reforms outlined in the Global Energy Institute report. But those reforms need Congressional action, and quickly.
We call on the ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, West Virginia’s own Joe Manchin, along with the state’s other congressional representatives, to step up to make sure our region’s pipeline workers can get back to work quickly, and all of West Virginia and America can secure a brighter economic future through a reformed pipeline permitting process.
(c)2018 The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, W.Va.)
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