Commissioner hopes Mountain Valley Pipeline will help ‘things get back to normal’ in Monroe County

By Matthew Young, RealWV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – “We’re a poor county, we don’t have a lot of industry, and that right there will help us be able to pay our police officers much closer to what officers make in other counties.” 

That’s what Monroe County Commissioner Melvin Young told The RealWV at the conclusion of Friday’s roundtable focusing on the passage of the “Fiscal Responsibility Act,” more commonly known as the “Debt Ceiling Bill.” The bill – which passed the U.S. Senate Thursday by a vote of 63 to 36 – is of particular interest to West Virginia due to the inclusion of provisions calling for federal regulation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). 

The June 2 roundtable regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline project was hosted by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Photo by Matthew Young, RealWV.

The roundtable was held at the W.Va. Lottery Headquarters in Charleston, and included leaders from the gas and coal industry, as well as union officials and elected government representatives. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who serves as chairman of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, hosted the event.

“Approximately 74% of the revenue that we take in (in Monroe County) goes to the school system,” Young noted. “Schools need that money to operate, so I’m looking forward to seeing this finally get going.”

Development of the Mountain Valley Pipeline has been dormant in recent years as the result of numerous legal challenges. However, the Fiscal Responsibility Act’s passage now calls for the expedited approval of all necessary permits needed for the project’s completion. Once finished, the pipeline will stretch from West Virginia to North Carolina, spanning a total of 303 miles. 

Manchin, who was instrumental in securing the bipartisan support needed for the bill’s passage, said the MVP project will “create more than 2,500 jobs, generate $50 million in tax revenue, and more than $175 million in royalties for West Virginia landowners.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks with members of the media following the Mountain Valley Pipeline roundtable of June 2. Photo by Matthew Young, RealWV.

“[The pipeline will also] play a significant role in strengthening our domestic energy production which will lower costs for consumers in West Virginia, as well as those across the country,” Manchin added. 

According to roundtable participant and Equitrans Midstream CEO Thomas Karam, the estimated cost of the completed pipeline is $6.6 billion – more than $3 billion over its original budget. While Karam now believes the pipeline will be completed by the end of this calendar year, he referred to the on-going legal challenges as a “hell hole,” adding, “It wasn’t until last night (Senate’s passage) that we’ve been extricated from that hell hole.”

Despite the total estimated cost of the pipeline nearly doubling, Karam still believes the MVP project to be a necessary investment in the security of the nation’s infrastructure.

“The media and the market talk about a transition into renewable energy, and that’s true,” Karam said. “But the absolute demand for natural gas will continue to increase for the next 20 to 30 years. The Mountain Valley Pipeline is essential to continually provide reliability and affordability to millions of customers.”

Equitrans Midstream serves as both project manager, and operator of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. 

Photo by Matthew Young, RealWV.

Also participating in the panel was International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 132 Business Manager, Charles Parker, who explained that no work has been completed on the pipeline since 2020. 

“The pipeline starts in Wetzel County, that’s the heart of West Virginia,” Parker noted. “We have waited with sweet anticipation for this day.”

Parker further explained that the resumption of the MVP project will “put thousands of West Virginians back to work,” while helping to ensure the nation’s energy security.

The Senate’s passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act also ended the lengthy stalemate between President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy by placing a 19-month moratorium on the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt limit. On Thursday, Biden confirmed his approval of the Senate’s plan, calling it “a big win for our economy and the American people.” 

According to a news report filed Thursday morning by Bill Chappell of NPR, with his signing the Fiscal Responsibility Act, Biden would be honoring a promise made to Manchin in exchange for his support of last August’s Inflation Reduction Act. 

Political maneuverings of Washington, D.C. notwithstanding, the project is not without its private detractors – whose chief concerns include the potential for damage to the rural countryside. 

Monroe County Commissioner Melvin Young speaks with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., following the Mountain Valley Pipeline roundtable. Photo by Matthew Young, RealWV.

However, this is a concern not shared by Commissioner Young. 

“This is going to financially help Monroe County, and I’m thankful for the effort that you put in,” Young told Manchin at the conclusion of the roundtable. “I think it’s going to be a tremendous boost and very helpful to our county, and it’s long overdue. It’ll be good to see things get back to normal.”

While no return-to-work date has yet been announced for the MVP project, it is assumed that development efforts will resume immediately upon Biden’s signing of the Act. RealWV will provide updates regarding the status of the MVP project as additional information is made available. 

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