Mountain Valley Pipeline Would Cost Impacted Communities Billions of Dollars Asserts Independent Study
Land values, natural benefits, and economic development could lead to losses of nearly $9 billion in just half of the counties that will be impacted if pipeline is approved
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – A new study by Charlottesville-based Key-Log Economics asserts that the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) would cost impacted communities billions of dollars. The study, “Economic Costs of the Mountain Valley Pipeline: Effects on Property Value, Ecosystem Services, and Economic Development in Virginia and West Virginia” – estimates that the total cost of the MVP to an eight-county region in southern West Virginia and southwest Virginia could range between $8 and $8.9 billion.
If approved, the MVP would go through 11 counties in West Virginia and five counties in Virginia. It would originate in Wetzel County, W.Va. and terminate in Pittsylvania County, Va. some 300 miles later.
FERC’s procedures and its track record show a blatant disregard for established economic principles as well as clear evidence that pipelines reduce property values, discourage business development, and diminish the capacity of the natural environment to provide clean water, beautiful scenery, and other valuable services to people.” – Dr. Spencer Phillips.
According to the Key Log report, the projected losses include between $65.1 and $135.5 million in the short term as construction strips forest and other productive land bear, and as private property values take a hit due to the dangers and inconvenience of living near the MVP route. It also includes $119.1 to $130.8 million each and every year after construction due to permanent changes in land cover, lost property tax revenues, and dampened economic growth in key sectors.
A coalition of community groups and organizations from the eight counties (Greenbrier, Monroe and Summers in West Virginia, and Giles, Craig, Montgomery, Roanoke and Franklin in Virginia) commissioned the independent research to ensure that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would have more comprehensive and robust estimates of economic effects that are typically discounted or ignored in the pipeline approval processes. The coalition had previously debunked exaggerated claims that the MVP would provide benefits in the form of jobs and income in the region, and its new report provides at least a piece of the essential cost side of the benefit-cost evaluation.
“FERC’s procedures and its track record show a blatant disregard for established economic principles as well as clear evidence that pipelines reduce property values, discourage business development, and diminish the capacity of the natural environment to provide clean water, beautiful scenery, and other valuable services to people,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Spencer Phillips.
Central findings of the Key-Log Economics report are that:
- One-time costs (lost property value and lost ecosystem service value during construction) would total in the range of $65.1 to $135.5 million.
- Annual costs (costs that recur year after year) would range from $119.1 to $130.8 million.
- Present discounted value of all future annual costs (discounted at 1.5%): $7.9 to $8.7 billion.
- One-time costs plus the discounted value of all future annual costs: $8.0 to $8.9 billion.
- Purported financial benefits to local governments are based on exaggerated MVP economic benefits claims.
- The need for the Mountain Valley Pipeline is not supported by economic benefits for impacted communities.
“Only if we count all of these costs (plus others our study did not get to, like the cost of damage to roads during construction or of heightened emergency response capacity after), weigh the full cost against reasonable estimates of societal benefits, and then ensure that the pipeline’s owners pay the full of the pipeline, could we possibly say that the MVP is a good idea, economically,” said Phillips.
Kirk Bowers of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club added that “Based on a comparison of even the exaggerated benefit estimates put out by the MVP’s backers with these very conservative cost estimates, it is hard to see this pipeline being worth it for the region.”
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Groups assert that state attorney general Patrick Morrisey seeks to invalidate regulations that protect the health and well-being of West Virginia’s residents
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch, Kanawha State Forest Coalition, the Mon Valley Clean Air Coalition and Keepers of the Mountains Foundation have moved to intervene in an action previously filed by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and attorneys general from 23 other states. Their actions seek to delay and ultimately invalidate the Clean Power Plan adopted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Clean Power Plan is designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. Under the plan, each state is required to develop a plan on how it is intends to achieve the emission reductions. Under West Virginia law, the governor, with the help of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), will develop this “State Implementation Plan” and it will be reviewed by the West Virginia legislature before it is submitted to the EPA.
The groups assert that Morrisey seeks to invalidate the regulations that carry out the Clean Power Plan in hopes of preventing the regulations from going into effect while the case is pending in court. They also assert that while he claims to be speaking for all West Virginians, he is not.
“We feel compelled to intervene so that the court will have the benefit of viewpoints other than that of Mr. Morrisey, a viewpoint not shared by all West Virginians,” said Cynthia D. Ellis, president of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. “This case is about whether we want to live in the present and prepare for the future or cling to the past. Coal has been our main source of electricity for a century. Mr. Morrisey wants to go back to that past, a past that has made West Virginians sick and contributed to climate change. We want to move forward to a future where there is more balance in meeting our energy needs.”
The Motion to Intervene points out that in “literally dozens of recent peer-reviewed studies, diligent medical researchers have documented the fact that particulate matter — whether emitted from electric utility plants directly, or indirectly from the mountaintop removal mining projects from which those utilities obtain their fuel supply — results in statistically significant increases of birth defects, decreased birth weights, diminished educational attainment, increased cancer, pulmonary and cardiac disease, and very substantially decreased life expectancy.”
“This is about who speaks for West Virginia and for West Virginians,” said Janet Keating, executive director of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. “Mr. Morrisey presumes to speak for the state and for all of us. His opinion may be that there is a war on coal and that all West Virginians should resist. This is not true. Climate change is a serious problem and we all have to do our part in addressing it.”
Vernon Haltom, executive director of Coal River Mountain Watch , added, “The Clean Power Plan is far from perfect, and we may disagree with what West Virginia ultimately proposes as a plan to reduce emissions. But scrapping the Clean Power Plan entirely and betting West Virginia’s health and economic future on the miraculous resurgence of a polluting finite resource is not a solution.”
The case is filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. West Virginia groups are being represented by William DePaulo, an attorney based in Lewisburg, W.Va.