More groups pushing for new natural gas pipelines in New England

BY Allconnect | Tue Nov 11, 2014
More groups pushing for new natural gas pipelines in New England

The New York Times pointed out that the American economy is showing signs of life – new data shows that the country's output improved by an annual growth rate of 3.5 percent over third quarter of 2014. An increase in military spending along with accelerating trade were noted as responsible for this increase. Another factor contributing to America's rebounding economy is the expansion of local fuel production. Collection of natural gas has reached record-breaking highs, and soon gas companies hope to strengthen the economy further by turning the U.S. into one of the top three gas exporters in the world. Residents are unable to benefit directly from natural gas production unless they are connected to the source by way of a pipeline. As a result, many organizations are stepping up their support of natural gas to match these new rates of production.

Lobbyists design advertising campaigns
A group lobbying for pipeline expansions, The Coalition to Lower Energy Costs, is currently leading the media charge in favor of natural gas. The Boston Globe reported that the coalition released a series of television adds across New England, reminding voters of the benefits of pipelines prior to midterm elections. The coalition is made up of unions interested in managing electricity prices and industries that are historic consumers of large amounts of energy. Other organizations, such as the Laborers' International Union of North America, have yet to join the coalition but expressed sympathetic support for the group's aims.

Utilities supporting gas expansion
Lobbies and unions aren't the only types of supporters backing natural gas pipelines in New England. Maine's Public Utilities Commission, for example, voted in late October to research the possibility of extending a new pipeline into the state, said the Morning Sentinel. Critics argue that the costly expenditure, worth $75 million a year in subsidies during construction, isn't worth the gains. Supporters counter with the fact that the pipeline could be up and running in less than five years if the state prioritizes the project. Without a new pipeline, many New Englanders will be forced to pay higher prices as local utilities struggle to meet demand.

Governors roll out pipeline plans
Natural pipelines have no shortage of support at the highest levels of state leadership. Democratic Peter Shumlin, incumbent governor of Vermont, faced a tough re-election against Republican rival Scott Milne, according to the Brattleboro Reformer.  The conclusion of the race will be settled by the legislature in 2015, but Governor Shumlin has been vocal about his support for pipeline regardless of the election. In fact, the Democrat announced his belief in natural gas for the future of Vermont despite criticisms from several progressives.

Likewise, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe put his faith behind natural gas during a speech in early October, according to Virginia Business. The political premiered his 2013 Virginia Energy Plan to a crowd of constituents, outlining how the state's new policies would contribute toward a more economically stable Virginia. The proposed pipeline, which would stretch 550 miles across Virginia and be operated jointly by four utility providers, is expected to cost  over $4 billion. Despite no shortage of protesters outside the event, McAuliffe doubled-down on his approach, stressing the need for an all-inclusive approach to resolving the state's energy demand needs. The secret to building "the economy Virginia families deserve," said McAuliffe, is to implement "the energy plan our economy demands." Currently, the abundance of natural gas has made the fuel one of America's most economically viable energy strategy.

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