By Dr. Stephen M. Miller
Miller is a physician in Peterstown, West Virginia.
I recently read EQT Corp.’s predictions of economic impact it claims will result from the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Many residents believe EQT is waging a campaign of misinformation with unrealistic promises of economic development, tax revenue and jobs in order to garner support of local officials and the public.
I feel we all should be in favor of economic development, creating local jobs, progressive thinking and trying to improve our standard of living. Unfortunately, the MVP project is unlikely to help in any of these ways and will likely, in the long term, have the opposite effect. According to Realtors, this project will severely reduce both the market price and marketability of properties affected by the pipeline. It may also adversely affect the values of adjacent properties.
Landowners are doubly affected because they will continue to pay the same tax rate on their properties and will continue to pay all real estate tax on the property, even though EQT Corp. will own an approximate 75 foot easement across the property.
This project is unlikely to create jobs for local residents. We witnessed a pipeline project in Monroe County, West Virginia, over the past year, and it created no jobs for local residents. Columbia Gas subcontracted construction to an Ohio-based company that brought its own employees. In addition, any jobs statewide that are created by the MVP project are likely to be of a temporary nature, lasting only about 12-18 months until the project is finished.
EQT claims the Mountain Valley Pipeline will open the door to economic development by providing natural gas to local communities. Upon closer review of gas transport lines, such as this one, it is appears unlikely that natural gas from a transport line will be diverted to local communities and counties for their use. An EQT representative at a recent Gretna, Virginia, meeting explained that the MVP is a transport line only, and will not provide natural gas to local communities.
EQT indicates individual counties will receive unbelievable tax revenues. They have claimed that Monroe County “could receive up to $1.7 million yearly.” However, county officials are unable to verify or substantiate what these estimates were derived from. A more realistic amount is the initial estimate provided by the Monroe County assessor: initially $8,000 to $9,000 per year, with this amount decreasing over 30 years. This figure could change somewhat, but a significantly large increase is not anticipated. I urge local officials in all counties to research and verify EQT’s claims thoroughly before endorsing this project.
In Monroe County, the current proposed route of the pipeline travels through two protected watershed areas, one of which is the Red Sulphur Public Service District. The MVP passes within feet of the most sensitive “Zone of Critical Concern” of this watershed which provides water to nearly one-third of Monroe County. Officials and those educated in geology/hydrology have indicated that a massive excavation in this area has the potential to disrupt underground and surface water channels permanently, potentially compromising the water supply of 4,000 to 5,000 people.
While economic development and progressive thinking are needed, we should not be misled into thinking the MVP project will result in significant, long-term improvement. We do not gain by allowing our people and resources to be exploited for corporate profit. Any financial gain that may result either directly or indirectly from this project will be more than offset by lost revenue from land use, negative impact on real estate, negative impact on property owners’ ability to borrow against their properties and the potential for negative impact on local banks.
Local and state government officials are urged to verify EQT’s claims for accuracy. Do not be misled by EQT’s false claims and misinformation campaign.
In addition, EQT has demonstrated its disregard for public safety.
The public is urged to contact state representatives, delegates, senators and congressmen as well as local officials. Let them know you are not in favor of allowing a corporate entity to exploit local citizens for corporate profit. Take a stand against the Mountain Valley Pipeline project.
It is also important to notify the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at www.FERC.gov. This is the regulatory body that will ultimately will decide whether to allow the Mountain Valley Pipeline project to proceed. The Docket Number is PF 15-3 and it is needed to register comments to FERC.