A group of 16 leading Democratic and Republican lawmakers from West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina urged FERC in a letter Tuesday to approve the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).
Meanwhile, a labor union late last week hand-delivered close to 1,600 letters from workers supporting ACP to the offices of Virginia Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.
The bipartisan group of state lawmakers told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Tuesday that ACP “represents a much-needed addition to our nation’s energy infrastructure, since it would provide a new, direct pathway for the burgeoning natural gas production in West Virginia and elsewhere in the Appalachian Basin to reach the growing markets of the Southeast.
“For the people of our states, the project also holds the promise of thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars of new economic activity, and lower energy prices,” the lawmakers wrote. “Additionally, we believe the pipeline would protect our region’s environment by making clean-burning natural gas more available for the production of electricity.”
The lawmakers’ letter to FERC comes just days after the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) delivered hundreds of letters urging Virginia’s senators to support the roughly 600-mile project, which would begin in Harrison County, WV, and travel through Virginia and North Carolina.
More than 700 of the LIUNA letters delivered last week were from Virginia residents "excited about the economic prosperity the project will bring" to the state.
LIUNA, which also submitted the letters to FERC, said it represents more than 8,000 skilled laborers across the three states who are ready to start work on the pipeline.
"Our message to Virginia's senators and the [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] is very simple: it's time to approve this pipeline so we can put Virginia laborers to work rebuilding our nation's energy infrastructure," LIUNA Vice President Dennis Martire said. "This is the biggest job-creating project we've seen in Virginia in many years. It will put thousands of Virginia laborers to work, generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new income for working families and bring more than $1 billion in new investment into our communities.
"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild Virginia's middle class and we need to seize it."
ACP has become a talking point in Virginia politics, with a Democratic candidate for governor recently coming out in opposition to the project while other state politicians have voiced their support.
Meanwhile, some local governments along the route have looked at potential economic development opportunities presented by the project.
Backed by a joint venture between Dominion, Duke Energy and Southern Company Gas, ACP aims to transport 1.5 Bcf/d of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales to satisfy heating and electric generation demand in the Southeast. The project is around 96% subscribed under long-term commitments.
ACP filed with FERC for a Natural Gas Act certificate in 2015. Originally targeting a 2018 start-up, Dominion pushed the in-service date back to 2019 after the U.S. Forest Service required a substantial route change to avoid impacting certain species in the George Washington and Monongahela national forests.
FERC released a draft environmental impact statement for ACP late last year, and Dominion CEO Thomas Farrell said during a 4Q2016 conferencecall that the company expects the Commission to complete its environmental review in June.