With Environmental Opposition Looming, Pro-Labor Group Remains Ardently Supportive of Atlantic Coast Pipeline

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Despite a delay in the start of construction on Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coastal Pipeline, Affiliated Construction Trades of WV President Steve White said he’s still hopeful that the pipeline’s eventual construction will lead to local hiring in areas of West Virginia.

“Jobs, jobs, and jobs would be the top three reasons,” White said on Tuesday’s edition of the MetroNews-affiliated “The Mike Queen Show” on the AJR News Network. “And this is a huge project–a huge infrastructure project. We’re talking five billion dollars. The wage component will be close to a billion dollars for the construction.”

The project would run through parts of West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Specifically, the pipeline construction would go through five West Virginia counties: Harrison, Lewis, Pocahontas, Randolph, and Upshur.

“We’ll be putting a lot of people to work who are underemployed right now or get them into a training program,” White said. “These are good paying jobs. There’s lot of good reasons why we are behind this project.”

Construction has been delayed until next summer in part because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is not expected to issue a permit for construction until next year. There has also been significant environmental opposition to the construction of the pipeline, but White said the economic benefits outweigh environmental concerns in this case.

“This dry gas part, we’re swimming in this dry gas,” he said. “We have to get it to a market somewhere. It’s going to get to a market, and this is a great project to get that going.”

Dry gas can be used in natural gas vehicles and drilling rigs and is often cited as cost-saving for transportation.

White also said that the gas is going to get to market one way or the other and would rather see locals benefit from the economic impact.

“We just want to build it and make it work for the region,” he said. “It’s important that we just don’t become a resource site where people suck out the wealth and then we’re left with nothing for local folks. I think these projects that commit to local hiring are critical for the future of our state.”

More than 200 organizations have endorsed the proposed project since it was first announced in 2014 in a rare display of unity between pro-labor and pro-business groups.

“We are sitting on the largest natural gas reserves in the world, and they are going to be developed,” White said.

Environmental opposition remains ongoing. In January, the U.S. Forest Service rejected the planned route of the pipeline. The “Cowboy and Indian Alliance” is coming to West Virginia this week to host a ceremonial seed planting in Weston in protest of the pipeline’s proposed route.

The pipeline is expected to be completed by late 2018. Total cost is projected around $5.1 billion.