Pocahontas County Commissioners Vote In Favor of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
The Pocahontas County Commissioners held a special meeting on February 11, 2015 to consider two motions regarding the Commission’s position on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s approximately 12 mile passage through the County, as well as to hear public comment about the motions.
One of the motions was to have the Commission send a letter to the Federal energy Regulatory Commission in either support or opposition to the pipeline’s passage through Pocahontas County. The other motion was send a letter to the U.S. Forest Service and to the Monongahela National Forest either in favor or opposing a study of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline site survey and testing project.
Because of the number of interested citizens who showed up for the Special Commission meeting, the meeting had to be moved to one of the courtrooms. There were about 35 citizens attending, and 23 took the opportunity to speak out in favor of or in opposition to the pipeline. Each speaker was allotted 2 minutes to speak, and the speakers respected the time limits fairly well.
Of the 23 citizens who spoke before the Commissioners, by my count there were 12 in favor of the pipeline, 9 opposed to it and one resident of Pocahontas County Resident who stated that while he was a Dominion employee, he stated that he had no opinion about whether the pipeline was the right thing or the wrong thing for the County, but he felt that Dominion would be the right company to build the pipeline if one were to be built because they do quality work.
After all of the speakers had their say, the Commissioners made and passed a motion to send a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in support of the pipeline’s passage through Pocahontas County. The Commissioners then made and passed a motion to send a letter to the U.S. Forest Service and to the Monongahela National Forest in favor of a study of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Site Survey and Testing Project.
Mr. Fred Burns, who supports the pipeline pointed out that we all use products transported by pipeline every day and the alternative to having a pipeline transport the gas would be having it trucked through our streets.
“All of you who buy a gallon of gas for your automobile use a pipeline,” said Mr. Burns. “All of the gas that comes to Marlinton comes from Roanoke Virginia to Montclair Virginia. There is more pipelines in the United States then there are Interstate highways. I am suppoting this because I don’t want to see 200 trucks going through Marlinton everyday loaded with gas, and that’s going to be the alternative, either by rail or by truck.”
Mr. Burns went on to talk about the need to have the pipeline’s taxes to support out schools and hospitals.
“Those of you who haven’t been here all that time don’t know how great this county used to be,” he said. “We had jobs, the Forest Service cut timber – they don’t cut timber anymore- our school system doesn’t get the tax dollars anymore.”
“My concern is we don’t have a tax base in Pocahontas County, we’re going to lose our libraries, our hospitals, our schools. We have to have a tax basis to support these. We live in a country that put men on the moon, if we can’t bury a pipeline in the United States to go to the power plants to produce electricity for the citizens of this country, then there is something wrong with us.”
Mr. Charlie Sheets supports the pipeline because it will bring overt one million dollars in annual taxes to Pocahontas County. Sherry Radcliff, the Treasurer of the Pocahontas Schools supports the pipeline because of the tax money it will generate could save the financially failing school system.
“I’m the treasurer of the Pocahontas County schools, and you know right now we are in financial difficulty big time,” said Ms. Radcliff. “The taxes that can come from this industry from a pipeline coming through this county, that is a tax that can support our schools. The National Forest property, we got $88,000 this year, last year we got $430.000. That is an 80% cut.”
Ms. Radcliff goes on to point out that the school buildings are mostly 30 years old and are in need of critical repairs, most schools, for example don’t have air-conditioning, and many need new roofs and there is no money for these repairs.
“So I am looking, this year alone, to come up with $200,000,” said Ms. Radcliff. “We only have enough money to barely approve payroll and minimal maintenance and custodial work. So I think we need to work together and need to come up with something that works for both of us and I know we can, look what we did after the floods, we came together as a community to work together, and I know we can do it. So, let’s put our heads together and make this project work.”
Most of the citizens who spoke out in favor of the pipeline did so because of the economic benefits it will provide to Pocahontas County, and it appears the Commissioners were listening.