The press releases were flying Tuesday as two North Carolina companies announced they would work with Dominion Power to build a 550-mile gas pipeline through Virginia. Governor Terry McAuliffe called a news conference to express his support for the project, and environmentalists expressed dismay.
Terry McAuliffe convened a supportive audience to announce that Dominion would build a pipeline to carry natural gas, fracked in West Virginia, to customers here and in North Carolina. The governor, who received $150,000 in campaign contributions from Dominion, said this project was a game changer for Virginia’s economy.
“The construction and permitting phase alone will generate $1.4 billion in economic activity in Virginia and create 8,800 new jobs for the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Once construction’s complete, the pipeline will support fewer than 200 jobs, but McAuliffe claimed cheap gas would bring the state’s manufacturing sector back, creating more employment. He said the project was good for the environment, since burning gas emits less carbon dioxide than coal, but the Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Mike Tidwell, said the process of fracking sends methane into the atmosphere, and that could make climate change worse.
“There’s a lot of what’s called fugitive methane. It’s much stronger at trapping heat than CO2 that comes from coal combustion for example..”
He argued that the state would be better off investing in green energy.
“Dollar for dollar, renewable energy – solar, wind power, energy efficiency -- provides more jobs than money invested in fossil fuels.”
The Sierra Club voiced similar sentiments, and organizers in several counties where residents oppose the pipeline said they would continue to fight it. Dominion is expected to seek a federal permit for the pipeline by 2016.