HRD questions economic benefits claims for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Dominion Resources and its partner companies have touted significant jobs and tax revenues benefiting affected counties through which the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would pass. The Highlanders for Responsible Development (HRD) has taken issue with those claims, believing that the job and tax revenue pronouncements do not present a balanced picture of the economic impact of the proposed project. The HRD Board has agreed to become part of an economic impact study that will examine the full costs of the ACP, as they relate to our region and to Highland County specifically. The study will be conducted by Spencer Phillips of Key-Log Economics, a Charlottesville, VA consulting firm (bio info at

According to a release by HRD President Lewis Freeman, the group is asking for help from residents for this study. The study was originally publicized in a February 19 story in the The Recorder as a project for Friends of Nelson County. Citizens groups in Augusta and Buckingham Counties have since also become participants.

Economic impacts of the the ACP will be examined in three principal areas:

• effects of the pipeline on the environment and the echoes of that that effect on the well-being of people in and beyond the region;

• impacts of the pipeline on property values, weighing that impact against the public benefit promise by the ACP; and

• effects of the ACP on economic development opportunities (e.g. tourism, destination for retirement homes and the income that brings to the region’s tax base, attractiveness for new businesses, etc.).

The study is to be completed by June 30. It’s results will be shared with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, key public officials and the public.

HRD’s share of the study will be $6500, which they will need to raise through contributions.
Please make out your check, in any amount, to: Highlanders for Responsible Development (write “Econ Study” in the memo line) and mail it by May 1 to: HRD, P.O. Box 685, Monterey, VA 24465. Your contribution will be tax-deductible.

A crucial part of the study will be a meeting with Spencer Phillips, possibly in May, with selected Highland County residents to obtain input from the community on issues and concerns about the pipeline. Anyone who contributes to support the study will also be invited to participate in the meeting.

In other business related to another natural gas pipeline proposed in West Virginia, Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC filed a petition in US District Court in Beckley in early April asking federal authorities to force three corporations and more than 100 private property owners to permit MVP’s agents to survey their land in order to lay out a route for the 300 mile pipeline, according to a report in the Beckley Register-Herald newspaper.

If approved this pipeline would provide a conduit for natural gas from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia.

The suit filed by the company relies on the doctrine of eminent domain; in each case, MVP LLC claims that the each of the respondents was contacted with a request for consent to survey and in each case the respondent failed or refused to grant permission to survey the land in question. MVP is seeking a declaratory judgement that the pipeline’s agents may enter onto the properties in question and to grant preliminary and permanent injunctions ordering landowners to cease barring MVP from accessing their properties. There is also a question as to whether eminent domain can be cited as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has not yet approved the pipeline.

The lawsuit names 103 people in Braxton, Nicholas, Monogalia, Harrison, Lewis, Greenbrier, Monroe, Mercer, Summers and Webster counties. Also included are the Lake Floyd Club, Green Valley Coal Co. and White Pine Inc.

Thanks to Highlanders for Responsible Development and the Beckley Register-Herald for the information in this story.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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