By Carl “Robbie” Martin
W.Va. Delegate, District 45
Once again, West Virginia sits at a crossroads. Down one path we can find economic vitality. Down the other we see nothing but a more stagnant economy. This crossroads has to do in part with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and whether we as a state and nation take advantage of the Mountain State’s abundant supply of natural gas, or if we ignore this economic opportunity and sit on our hands.
I believe we need to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Those in Washington, D.C. should stand up and do what they can to move this project forward. We need to find a way to keep the frivolous lawsuits being filed from halting this vital project to the detriment of the state.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to vacate the Forest Service’s Special Use Permit and Record of Decision allowing the pipeline to pass through two national forests is a perfect example of unnecessary delays in this project.
West Virginia needs this pipeline to be completed. It will help spur economic growth throughout the five counties the pipeline passes through. It will create jobs and it will generate tax dollars.
I know firsthand how employees for the pipeline eat at restaurants and stay in hotels around Upshur County. They also shop in stores down Main Street, use professional services and so on.
This story is repeated in every county the pipeline passes through. It is just as true in Pocahontas as it is in Harrison. Construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is resulting in the immediate creation of 3,000 full-time jobs. But, that is just a drop in the bucket. Those men and women employed will spend their money locally, which in turn creates more business opportunities here. This influx of money encourages people to open new businesses and hire more employees. Businesses will have the opportunity to expand resulting in a higher tax base for our state.
This pipeline will stretch from Harrison County into Virginia and North Carolina. It will move West Virginia gas across state lines. This will support production in the state, which will in turn create more jobs and lead to economic stability.
The pipeline will also generate tax revenue for communities throughout its path. The oil and natural gas industry is a partner with West Virginia. The industry supports 38,000 jobs in the Mountain State. It contributes $124 million in severance taxes and $96 million in property taxes to state and local economies. Last year, the industry paid out $2 billion in wages. We need to continue to support the industry that supports so many families.
Not only does the pipeline bring jobs and tax revenue to local areas, but it also benefits communities in other ways. My hometown of Buckhannon is a great example. Dominion is contributing nearly $2 million for water system upgrades in the Brushy Fork area. This money will be used to construct a pump station and upgrade water lines. The water lines along Brushy Fork Road are nearly 50 years old and they need to be replaced. The 6-inch lines will be replaced by 8-inch lines. This project will benefit about 3,000 to 4,000 people and it will not cost Buckhannon water customers a nickel.
This is a win for West Virginia. With the state’s unemployment rate remaining higher than the national average, we cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by. We need to pressure our elected officials and strongly urge them to support the construction of this vital piece of infrastructure.
Delegate Carl “Robbie” Martin was recently elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates. He owns the Bicentennial Inn and the 88 Restaurant & Lounge. He employees 43 people at that the Bicentennial Inn and the 88 Restaurant & Lounge. The Buckhannon native is a former member of the Upshur County Board of Education.