New study calls into question long-term economic benefits of Mountain Valley Pipeline

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A study commissioned by community groups in eight counties in West Virginia and Virginia finds significant costs to local economies in the EQT Mountain Valley Pipeline construction project that they feel the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) overlooked.

Dr. Spencer Phillips, principal at Key-Log Economics, was one of seven presenters who felt the study showed significant cost to economic vitality of the communities in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline project.

“FERC’s approval process for the Mountain Valley Pipeline is really a rigged game economically because the agency’s procedures themselves as well as their track record mean that they ignore some really important economic costs to people in communities along the path of interstate natural gas transmission lines,” Phillips said in a tele-conference Wednesday morning.

An economic analysis by FTI Consulting, based on information provided by EQT, shows that the pipeline project could create between 4200 and 4500 direct and indirect jobs at it’s peak, bring in $25.8 million in state and local tax on production and imports, and create over $400 million in employee compensation.

Dr. Phillips said, contrary to a report by real estate valuation service Integra Realty Resources, property value loss is likely.

“We estimate a one-time loss in property value of between 42 and 53 million dollars,” he said. “That’s for people in the right of way and people in the evacuation zone, which is about 1.4 miles wide for a pipeline of this size and operated at the pressure that’s expected.”

Leslee McCarty of the Greenbrier River Watershed Association believes that this may have had an impact on one of her neighbors in the Greenbrier County area.

“He had had a piece of property up for sale, and they were about to close on it, but when the pipeline specter appeared he had to disclose that and he lost the sale of his property,” McCarty said. “I wonder how many times that has happened. It’s hard to quantify that.”

McCarty believes that the pipeline would disrupt some of Greenbrier County’s most valuable assets: tourism, travel, and small business.

“If you look at the summary for Greenbrier County, and speaking about what’s important economically in Greenbrier County, we see that entrepreneurs and small business owners are a large part of what’s driving the economy as well as travel and tourism,” she said.

McCarty also believes that West Virginia would be better off seeking cleaner, renewable energy instead of relying on additional fossil fuel production.

“Coal is on it’s way out, supposedly,” she said. “Supposedly natural gas is some bridge to the future, but these are both fossil fuels. These pipelines–I think of them as enablers–to keep us on the drip of fossil fuels.”

Dr. Phillips claims that net losses in economic vitality could range up to $114 million per year–and eventually cumulatively reach billions of dollars of losses for local area communities.

“FERC really needs to consider when it is determining whether or not there is any net public benefit that could stem from the Mountain Valley Pipeline,” he said.

The Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR) coalition of community groups commissioned this independent research.

In West Virginia, the pipeline would run through the counties of Wetzel, Harrison, Doddridge, Lewis, Braxton, Webster, Nicholas, Greenbrier, Summers, and Monroe.

Construction is set to begin in December.

EQT released the following statement in response to the study.

“We remain confident that the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline project will bring significant and meaningful benefits to counties along its route in both Virginia and West Virginia. A broad, bipartisan coalition of public officials, residents, companies, and pro-business groups support the Mountain Valley Pipeline because of its significant economic benefits. FTI Consulting, a highly regarded international consulting firm, has estimated the project will generate thousands of jobs during construction, lifting local and regional economies, and the project will provide local and state governments with millions in additional annual tax revenue. Similar to a study released by this same group last year, we recognize that opponents of the MVP project have been challenging the results of our economic benefits analysis since its initial release in December 2014; therefore, the findings that are outlined in a critique that was funded by opponents are to be expected.

Lastly, it is important to note that the 2014 FTI studies were reviewed by independent economists in Virginia and West Virginia; and the IMPLAN model utilized for MVP’s analysis is widely recognized as the industry standard for economic analysis modeling, and is also widely used in the legal and regulatory system. Furthermore, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Integra Realty Resources (IRR) found the presence of a pipeline does not affect home values or insurability. The IRR study was submitted to the FERC in a follow-up data response.”

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