By Alex Bridges
FRONT ROYAL - Warren County leaders this week joined opponents of a $4 billion, natural gas pipeline slated to run through five states.
Duke Energy issued a request for proposals to build the pipeline to connect resources in western Pennsylvania to its facilities in North Carolina. Spectra Energy Partners responded to Duke's request and proposed a corridor through Warren County and other jurisdictions.
That corridor cuts through thousands of acres of agricultural and forestal land, conservation easements and historic areas in Warren County alone. The corridor also goes through the magisterial districts represented by Supervisors Richard Traczyk and Tony Carter and Chairman Daniel Murray Jr.
But opponents might get some relief as work on the project has been put on hold, according to information from Arthur Diestel, manager for stakeholder outreach at Spectra.
"Spectra Energy is suspending its development work on the proposed Carolina project; however, we will be analyzing other opportunities in the region," Diestel stated in an email. "We will continue to evaluate opportunities in the region which could include the study corridor in your area and should there be developments, we will keep you informed."
Diestel did not indicate when the company decided to suspend the development of the pipeline nor whether it would revive the effort in the future.
Supervisors adopted a resolution Tuesday that reflects the board's opposition to the pipeline project. The board urged Duke Energy to pick a different corridor to satisfy its energy needs. However, should the project be deemed necessary and go forward, the board requests that the construction be done in the least intrusive manner to minimalize the impacts.
County Administrator Douglas Stanley advised the board that some residents received requests from Spectra representatives to go on their property. The county has received similar requests.
Warren County would have little to no power to stop a pipeline, Stanley said.
"I thought at least if we're going to make a statement, let's make it early enough that the people who make these decisions will know how the leadership of Warren County feels," Stanley said.
The county likely would receive some financial benefit from a pipeline from a tax on utilities, Stanley said. The proposed route takes the pipeline close to or through the Happy Creek Industrial Park that could provide an incentive for companies to develop in that area, Stanley said.
Information provided in the resolution indicates the proposed corridor for the pipeline runs parallel with Dominion Power's 500-kilovolt electrical transmission line. In Warren County alone the corridor includes 22 miles of the Appalachian Trail, 15 miles of scenic byways, a historic district and two historic sites and 9,424 acres of the Rockland Agricultural and Forestal District, according to the resolution. The corridor also covers Civil War battlefields, conservation easements and scenic rivers.
Comprehensive Plans for the affected counties call for the preservation of land with historic, scenic and cultural importance, the resolution states.
Information on Spectra Energy Partners website at http://tiny.cc/dvmakx indicates the company is evaluating the proposed, interstate pipeline in response to growing market needs in the Mid- and South Atlantic regions by the fourth quarter of 2018. Additional pipelines would bring more natural gas to regions for power generation and for consumer use. Spectra touted the project as a source of job creation.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org