By C.E. Mahaney
Mahaney worked in the energy industry. He is retired and lives in Blacksburg.
I think Dan Casey’s column (“Planned pipeline all about exports”) in the Oct. 26 Times is well done except for one very important detail which is a game breaker. He mentioned many disadvantages, but very few advantages in building the Mountain Valley Pipeline. In the economic world, there are always trade-offs and there is no such thing as a free lunch. Leaders are tasked with deciding whether the new proposal is net positive or negative. Although Casey is a commentator rather than a reporter, he has a moral responsibility to mention the primary benefits of this program.
If the MVP is approved and constructed in Southwest Virginia, many new and existing companies can apply for local use of this fuel in their new or existing plants. Since natural gas is the most economical fuel for local industries, they will be more competitive; thus more profitable, which will bring new growth and a higher standard of living to our area. If you are concerned about the provision for local use not being incorporated into the contracts, then make sure it is in the government regulations and licenses accordingly.
The resolution of the local problems will not change the liquid natural gas export phase, so why does Casey emphasize this as a negative? The export companies will build new container ships to carry highly compressed gas well below freezing to justify the cost of transporting limited volumes by tanker ships. Please note that this will present new business to local Virginia companies if the federal government will work with, instead of against, this new and prosperous business.
In addition, there will be new dock facilities built and operated by local companies. There are many side advantages to shipping natural resources from those who have them to those who do not have them. We should look at the big picture instead of the assumed local problems per your article.
In addition, The Roanoke Times ran several articles recently about the new businesses that have been created in Southwest Virginia based upon tapping into other natural gas transmission lines and using the low-price fuel for heating and related industrial applications.
The United States has been leader in research for many years because we have the freedom to initiate new technologies. Our biggest problem is persistent government intervention by organizations such as the EPA and some unscrupulous politicians. The U.S. has led the world in performing R&D and developing patents, which leads to a higher standard of living, and we should continue in this mode by approving the MVP program.
And lastly, if you need a real-life comparison, the natural gas engine will replace the gasoline engine within the near future for 18-wheelers and local service trucks, as gas stations are converted. Then, the domestic automobiles will be converted as fast as they can be built.
So, if you look down the road and see natural gas vehicles everywhere, how could we possibly object to a big transmission line transporting this fuel through Southwestern Virginia? I hope this puts this program into better perspective.