Labor and Business Offer Support for Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — More than 200 organizations came out in support of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline earlier this week, a 550-mile pipeline project that would carry natural gas to North Carolina.

Speaking on the MetroNews affiliated “The Mike Queen Show,” Steve Roberts of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Steve White, Director of Affiliated Construction Trades agreed that this was a project good for labor and business–with both of their organizations among the 200+ supporters.

“We’re sitting on the second largest natural gas field in the world,” White said. “That’s the Marcellus and Utica. We have a huge resource that is just being tapped, and it needs to find markets.”

Roberts highlighted the state’s tradition of energy harvesting as part of what makes this such an attractive venture in his eyes.

“We know that we’re very good at it, and we know that our energy resources are part of what makes us a great state,” Roberts said.

One of the criticisms labeled against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is that all the jobs will be “temporary” jobs. But Roberts says that’s not unexpected for those working in the construction business.

“I try to visualize the $500 million plus, maybe as much as a billion in paychecks, that are going to be paid out during this project,” White said. “Not only the construction workers, but to the people who service the project, and the people who make the pipe.”

It marks a rare time that labor and business agree on something–and both Roberts and White agree that harvesting this energy is a reality.

“The reality is there is a huge amount of cheap energy, and it’s got to go somewhere,” White said. “It’s going to be harvested. It’s going to go somewhere.”

“It helps solidify and keep us in a prominent place as an energy producing and exporting kind of economy,” Roberts said.

They both cited two separate major reasons why this energy needs to be harvested. For White, he sees it as a way to rely less on foreign exports since the largest natural gas field is in the Middle East.

“Think about the energy independence that we’re also able to create about all the foreign problems that are over energy that our natural gas, coal, oil–all of our resources here can solve a lot of problems,” White said.

Roberts cited an increased demand on the nation’s energy grid, saying that natural gas can help ease some of that burden.

“Everybody who is listening to a radio, who uses a cell phone, who works on an iPad, who opens up a desktop computer–those are all things that are requiring energy that just about a generation ago we didn’t use,” Roberts said.

Survey and route planning is still underway, with more than 80 percent of land owners granted Atlantic Coast Pipeline crews to survey the land.

The current schedule estimates that the pipeline could begin functioning in late 2018.