Pipeline supporters unite

Published 9:42 pm Monday, June 29, 2015

More than 100 businesses, labor organizations and other groups in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina announced late last week a coalition supporting the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

EnergySure — Standing Up for Reliable Energy — represents millions of employees and associates across Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina, including several companies and organizations with ties to and employees from Suffolk.

Projections show that the demand for natural gas as a fuel for generating power will triple during the next 20 years, pipeline developers say. With electricity-generating capacity falling at older coal-fired power plants serving the area, they say, there is an immediate need for a replacement.

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Members of the lobbying group with ties to or employees from Suffolk include the Virginia Port Authority, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, Huntington Ingalls Industries, the Tidewater Builders Association, TFC Recycling and Smithfield Foods Inc.

EnergySure and its members believe that access to cleaner-burning natural gas can fill the gap.

The 550-mile, $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline project would deliver natural gas from wells in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. It is expected to generate significant economic benefits across the 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, proponents say.

In Virginia alone, construction would support 8,800 jobs and result in $1.4 billion in economic activity, the add.

“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,” said Matt Yonka, president of the Virginia State Building and Construction Trades, stated in a press release announcing the formation of the EnergySure group.

Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, added, “Virginia, as a state, needs more power than we can produce currently. Every region of Virginia will benefit from having an additional source of power, and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline represents and opportunity to have that increased power supply.

“(The pipeline) will help position Virginia in the most competitive position possible, it will help us be on the map for large manufacturing facilities and it will create more jobs.”