2018-02-07 / Letters

Pipeline would help, not hurt

Jessica Sims’ letter (“Pipeline project won’t benefit county,” Jan. 10) should be commended for desiring a cleaner environment for Virginians. However, her letter criticizing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline recommends halting a project that would improve the environment. Oil and gas pipelines have existed nationally for many decades and have a fine safety record. In fact, pipelines pass through the county (one on the edge of Brandermill, for example) unnoticed by many since they rarely cause a problem. The Dakota Access Pipeline, which has been in operation for six months, has increased safety since the 12 trains previously transporting oil from the state daily have been reduced to two. North Dakota’s state revenue from the exports has increased by almost $50 million. The only pollution associated with the pipeline was the cleanup of trash generated by the out-of-state protestors at Standing Rock. In the past several years, train derailments have caused serious pollution (recently in Lynchburg, for example) and cost many lives. The switch from rail to pipelines is also fiscally sound, since transport costs are lower, thus reducing the cost to the consumer.

Ms. Sims’ criticism of fracking is also misguided. Ground water and natural gas exist in different strata and drilling regulations are quite successful in protecting the ground water. In fact, fracking is generally considered more environmentally sound than offshore drilling for oil and gas. The large increase in natural gas production in the last decade has lowered the price of natural gas, causing utilities to switch from coal fired plants to natural gas. The transport of coal, its storage and the coal ash residue are problems solved by the switch. Interestingly, Ms. Sims uses the coal ash problem at Dutch Gap to reinforce her argument opposing the pipeline. This makes little sense since natural gas is the solution to the coal ash problem and lowers carbon emissions.

In Germany, electrical generation from natural gas has dropped from 14 percent to 9 percent since 2010 due to misguided green government policies raising electricity rates, which are triple those in the United States. Do Virginians want this type of increase? Natural gas is cheap, clean and environmentally sound. Perhaps someday we can power the country on renewables, but that is in the future. Solar is great (I purchased a solar water heater in 1979) and wind is fine in certain areas. However, gas produces power even when the sun is not shining and wind is absent. Let’s build the pipeline because it is sensible policy.

Mitch Tedeschi

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