Education and growth are good for Virginia

Published 7:22 pm Saturday, May 26, 2018

By Tim Page

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline recently received a set of important federal and state authorizations. With these approvals came a new wave of ill-advised gloom and doom about the project’s possible impact on Virginia.

But these key regulatory permits should be reason to celebrate, not protest.


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Pipelines are must-have infrastructure to deliver the energy we use every day in a safe and efficient manner. Studies continue to show that moving resources via pipeline is 4.5 times more secure than moving the same amount of energy across the same distance by other means. That’s because 99.999 percent of what’s moved via pipeline reaches its destination safely. Moreover, they also reduce emissions by decreasing the amount of energy transported by road, rail and ocean vessels.

Pipelines are also a necessity for lowering household energy expenses and helping individuals and families who are less well off. Currently, Virginians spend an average of $3,288 annually on energy, a taxing number for the 11 percent of people who are barely living paycheck-to-paycheck, who spend a dangerously larger percentage of their take-home pay on energy-related costs than those in higher income brackets.

Pipelines help reduce this fiscal burden by bringing in more resources and alleviating bottlenecks that happen when demand climbs and rates soar — like during the record-cold winter days we had this winter.

Equally important is that pipelines are job and economic stimulators — and this project is no exception. Construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will offer new labor opportunities — thousands of them — for residents statewide, and efforts are under way to develop the workforce we’ll need to build it safely. Because it is so important that new techniques and skills are used in each pipeline construction, the Laborers’ International Union of North America and the Virginia Community College System are partnering to recruit and train employees who’ll work on the pipeline by performing ground clearing and coating, restoring the project’s right of way, and installing its environmental control devices and piping.

This not only helps recruit local talent but also contributes to the local community through education and ancillary services.

It’s already bad policy to force cash-strapped households to choose between heating their homes, buying groceries and fueling their vehicles when money is tight. It’s even worse to keep thousands of eager workers from making a living — especially on a state-of-the-art infrastructure project that has had multiple years of comprehensive studies and surveys to avoid or minimize its impacts.

The right policy is having an honest dialogue about our need for affordable energy and the optimal ways to bring it here. That’s pipelines — and educating the local workforce we need to build them the right way.

Tim Page is executive director of the Consumer Energy Alliance — Southeast.