Pipeline opponents warn of economic harm

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Opponents of two natural gas pipelines say the projects are bad for Virginia's economy.

Waynesboro's Thomas Hadwin has worked for utilities in other states. Tuesday, he joined local activist Freeda Cathcart outside the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce.

They said the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines aren't needed to meet demand for natural gas, won't generate permanent jobs and will raise energy costs.

"This is not a good economic deal for Virginia," Hadwin told reporters. "So why should we sacrifice our mountains, our clean water and all of those other issues just so that we pay more, and a few energy companies make more."

"It's putting our economy in danger," Cathcart said during the news conference, "and I hope that people will pay attention, whether they are shareholders or ratepayers, and realize that we are being taken advantage of right now. And it's not fair."

The Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce has adopted the following position on the Mountain Valley Pipeline:

"The Roanoke Regional Chamber supports the continued development of infrastructure that is integral to business expansion in our region. Our prosperity depends on the presence of robust transportation – education – recreation – healthcare – telecommunication – and energy infrastructure. With these building blocks in place, our economy and our quality of life are given great opportunities for growth.

As a result of this philosophy, the Roanoke Regional Chamber supports the Mountain Valley Pipeline project and strongly encourages its development in accordance with laws and regulations of the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia, in cooperation with property owners, and with the utmost safety and with respect for the environment and our region’s beauty."

A spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline also responded with the following comment Tuesday evening:

"We appreciate the strong support from across the Roanoke area for this important infrastructure project. As numerous studies and analyses have shown, demand for natural gas in this region has grown steadily in recent years and is expected to continue to grow. The Mountain Valley Pipeline includes two taps in Virginia that will provide greater access to affordable, reliable natural gas to meet existing and projected demand.

Roanoke Gas Company will tap the MVP pipeline in Montgomery County, near the Roanoke County line, to enhance service reliability. The company also will tap the line in Franklin County near the new business park to benefit the unserved market there. Franklin County has cited its current lack of access to natural gas as a barrier to recruiting new employers."