Pipeline in Jefferson Co. can benefit all of WV

Source: Charleston Gazette-Mail

There’s a lively debate going on in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle that involves a proposed pipeline to bring much-needed natural gas, the cleanest burning fossil fuel, to the energy-hungry region.

Business organizations — representing those who actually employ people, pay them and generate revenue — are strongly in favor of Mountaineer Gas Co. building the pipeline extension from just north of the Potomac River at the West Virginia-Maryland border into Jefferson County.

A highly vocal group of activists are vehemently opposed.

The Shepherdstown Town Council will hear from proponents and opponents at a meeting today. It’s likely to be a noisy and emotionally charged affair. But it doesn’t need to be.

Natural gas pipelines are the safest way to transport a clean-burning energy source that has helped the United States reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. And West Virginia needs growth. Fighting to prevent the pipeline is equivalent to fighting to keep growth and revenue out of West Virginia.

“Over the years, countless businesses have explored moving into or expanding in Jefferson County but ultimately determined that the lack of natural gas service significantly impeded their ability to do so,” wrote Eric Lewis and John Reisenweber, of the Jefferson County Development Authority, in the Shepherdstown Chronicle. “Until recently, the expansion of natural gas service in Jefferson County had been just a dream.

“The prospect of a natural gas distribution line coming into Jefferson County is very exciting,” Lewis and Reisenweber wrote. “It will mean business expansion opportunities that we have never had before.”

Even those with true concerns about reliance on natural gas can take solace that building new pipelines might ultimately increase the use of some renewable fuels.

According to American Gas Magazine, some communities are processing and injecting renewable natural gas — gas derived from landfills and wastewater treatment — into the nation’s pipeline infrastructure for use as a clean-burning fuel.

So better pipeline infrastructure might, in the long run, help create new markets for renewable natural gas as more communities learn to capture this abundant fuel source.

West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle needs this pipeline project, just as more pipelines are needed across the region to bring more Appalachian gas to market and boost jobs and revenue in our region.

The Shepherdstown Town Council is urged to listen to all who speak their mind and make a vote in support of growth of West Virginia’s economy.