Group continues protests against regional pipeline

PIPELINE WORK — As contractors continue working on pipelines to move Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas across America, public interest groups in West Virginia and Virginia continue protesting some of the projects. -- Contributed

WHEELING — About $8.5 billion worth of pipelines designed to send natural gas southward from the Marcellus and Utica shale region irk some residents in West Virginia and Virginia so much they formed the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance to defend their Appalachian communities.

The $3.5 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline, developed by EQT Corp., would run 300 miles south from the MarkWest Energy Mobley complex in Wetzel County to a compressor station in Virginia. The $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline, principally developed by Dominion Resources, would connect pipelines from Tyler County to run south through West Virginia and Virginia on the way to North Carolina.

“A natural gas pipeline cannot be safely built through the steep mountain terrains that are in the path of both projects,” Lewis Freeman, alliance chairman and executive director, said. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline would have harmful effects upon the water supplies of property owners and communities in and proximate to the proposed routes due to the nature of the underground water supplies in the Allegheny-Blue Ridge region.”

These pipelines would be up to 42 inches in diameter at certain points. As Marcellus and Utica shale industry leaders await additional pipeline capacity to bolster their ability to ship natural gas to major markets, these are two of at least six that remain under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission review.

Earlier this year, FERC documents showed concerns for the health of the West Virginia northern flying squirrel and the Cheat Mountain salamander and Cow Knob salamander were preventing the developers from moving forward with the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley conduits. Freeman said the deadline for additional comments on these projects is Dec. 22.

“Recent economic studies of the natural gas transmission industry conclude that neither pipeline is necessary in order to meet future energy needs,” Freeman maintains. “Existing infrastructure with modest improvements can satisfy future needs.”

Freeman said that over the weekend, about 175 alliance members met to discuss their next moves during the Pipeline Summit at Natural Bridge, Va.

While public opposition remains stiff, Dominion Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Farrell II is confident the $5 billion pipeline will proceed.

“We continue to work toward the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the related Supply Header project. We expect completion of these projects in late 2019,” he said.

The Supply Header is an offshoot of the ACP that will offer a connection to gathering lines in Wetzel County.

(Junkins can be contacted at cjunkins@theintelligencer.net)


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