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Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello said Wednesday he opposes construction of two major natural gas pipeline projects planned for the state, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC (MVP).
In a video and accompanying statement posted to his campaign's Facebook page, Perriello said the state should focus on investing in “clean” energy instead of natural gas.
"Virginia deserves better than two pipelines we don't need, with an $8.5 billion price tag, when there is a better way," Perriello said. "As governor, I'll fight to prevent the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. We should reject these rusty ideas that risk Virginia's natural heritage and contribute to the threat of climate change.
"I will demand a better way that creates thousands of good paying clean energy jobs for Virginians. We are a state of innovators. We can't get stuck in the past."
Perriello's position differs from current Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who has embraced natural gas pipelines as part of his energy platform.
Perriello is one of several candidates vying for Virginia's governorship when McAuliffe's term ends after this year. In the Democratic primary, Perriello and Ralph Northam are running neck and neck, according to recent polling data from Roanoke College. On the Republican side, Ed Gillespie is the early front runner, followed by Frank Wagner, Corey Stewart and Denver Riggleman. However, most respondents were not familiar with any of the candidates, according to the pollsters.
Perriello previously represented Virginia's Fifth Congressional District and is originally from the Charlottesville, VA, area. Nearby Nelson County, located on ACP's route, has been an area of active opposition to that project.
Aaron Ruby, a spokesman for Atlantic Coast and lead developer Dominion Energy, said the company is "disappointed" that Perriello is opposing the project. Ruby pointed to support ACP has received at the state level from business and labor groups and from lawmakers representing the Hampton Roads area, one of the major markets the pipeline proposes to serve. He also noted voter polls showing support for the project.
Perriello's statement "was ill-informed and misrepresents several important aspects of the project. His position ignores the urgent need for this infrastructure by public utilities in order to meet the growing energy needs of all Virginians,” Ruby said. “He is also ignoring the important role this project will play in lowering carbon emissions in Virginia and allowing public utilities to transition to a cleaner energy future.
"...Mr. Perriello is also overlooking overwhelming public support for the project, which public opinion polls have consistently shown by nearly 2-to-1 margins. Virginians want new jobs; they want cleaner energy; they want more economic opportunity; and, they recognize that new infrastructure like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is critical to making it happen."
While not directly responding to Perriello's comments, MVP spokeswoman Natalie Cox told NGI that the "project has been in development for more than two years, and the project team -- in coordination with state and federal agencies, local governments, businesses and private landowners -- has worked very hard to demonstrate the clear need for and benefits of this project. The MVP team appreciates the strong, bipartisan support that it has received from elected officials, chambers of commerce, and residents."
Cox pointed to the jobs the pipeline would create and the additional property tax revenues it would pay into local communities along the route.
The 600-mile, 1.5 Bcf/d ACP would run from West Virginia into Virginia and North Carolina, bringing Marcellus and Utica shale gas to satisfy power and heating demand in the Southeast. The projected is slated to go into service in 2019.
MVP, a 301-mile, 2 million Dth/d project, would transport Appalachian shale gas across the West Virginia/Virginia border to an interconnect with the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Station 165 in Pittsylvania County, VA. MVP is targeting a 4Q2018 in-service date.
Both projects are still under environmental review at FERC, which lost its quorum last week and won't be able to issue any new Natural Gas Act certificates until new commissioners are appointed and confirmed.