Econometric Studies at Fifty Paces!

Pipeline construction in West Virginia.

Pipeline construction in West Virginia.

by James A. Bacon

From the perspective of theoretical economics, the debate over the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is getting quite interesting: To what extent do natural gas pipelines diminish the value of property they cross?

A coalition of five community groups opposed to the pipeline contend that landowners along the proposed route will lose up to $141 million in lost property value and environmental benefits– and that doesn’t include long-term losses to economic development and tourism. That estimate comes from a study performed by Charlottesville-based Key-Log Economics LLC.

But Dominion Resources, managing partner of the pipeline project, cites Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) research that there is “no consistent information suggesting that the presence of a natural gas pipeline easement would decrease property values.” Pipelines co-exist with tourism, agriculture and residential development in many parts of the country, the company says.

The debate fascinates me because, as I have argued previously on this blog, the determinants of property value are changing. Fifty years ago, rural property was valued on the income stream that could be generated by farming the land or cutting timber. Today, income is a secondary consideration for many people living in the country. Increasingly, land owners value their property for scenic vistas and environmental preservation. But there is no consensus method for compensating property owners for those lost values in eminent domain disputes, such as the uproars in Virginia over the proposed ACP and Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Viewshed impact of proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline route through Highland, Augusta, Nelson and Buckingham Counties. Source: Key-Log Economics LLC study.

Viewshed impact of proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline route through Highland, Augusta, Nelson and Buckingham Counties. Source: Key-Log Economics LLC study.

The Key-Log Economics study focused on a study region of four counties — Highland, Augusta, Nelson and Buckingham — in the path of the proposed ACP route. The area is one of the more economically vigorous non-metropolitan areas in Virginia, the study says. The area has a higher human amenity index (based on scenic amenities, recreational resources and access to health care), more investment income per capita and more entrepreneurship than most Virginia counties. Between 2000 and 2014, population grew 8.5% compared to a 0.2% loss for non-metro Virginia. Growth in employment and measures of personal income grew significantly faster as well.

“Trends suggest that entrepreneurs and retirees are moving to (or staying in) this region. They bring their income, their expertise, and their job-creating ability with them,” states the study. “Just as retirees and many businesses can choose where to locate, visitors and potential visitors have practically unlimited choices for places to spend their vacation time and expendable income. If the study region loses its amenity edge, other things being equal, people will go elsewhere, and this region could contract. … The ACP could tip the region into a downward spiral.”

The perception of safety risk from gas explosions will negatively impact property values along the route, as will proximity to the noisy compression station proposed for Buckingham County, the report says. Additionally, the loss of “million-dollar” views will diminish property values, and the loss to pipeline construction of “ecosystem services” such as clean water filtration could cost communities millions of dollars to replace their water supply.

Under the Key-Log methodology, the biggest contributor to lost property values by far is “aesthetic value,” accounting for 71% to 79% of total losses. The pipeline would be visible to an estimated 31,000 parcels, diminishing property values from between $8.4 billion and $30.5 billion each year.

Dominion responds that the Key-Log report “lacks factual basis and credibility.” Neighboring counties in Virginia have pipelines but haven’t seen any of the impacts Key-Log describes. Said Media Relations Manager Aaron Ruby in a prepared statement:

There are many examples in Virginia and around the country where tourism, agriculture and residential development co-exist alongside natural gas pipelines. In California’s Napa Valley, for example, hundreds of miles of natural gas transmission pipelines operate through one the most successful tourist, agricultural and wine-producing regions of the country.

Here in Virginia is more proof. For several decades a major natural gas pipeline has safely operated alongside many farms, homes and businesses in Augusta County. Far from inhibiting the economy or residential development, the pipeline passes through shopping center parking lots and in between new housing subdivisions. That pipeline extends into neighboring Albemarle County, where it passes through White Hall Vineyards, which for more than 20 years has been a successful tourist destination and producer of award-winning wine. In Fluvanna County, four major natural gas pipelines have operated for decades through the Lake Monticello residential development, which attracts vacationers, retirees and outdoor enthusiasts from across Virginia.

Dominion cited the 2014 Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Constitution Pipeline in New York, which concluded that there was no solid information suggesting that natural pipelines decreased property values. (Key-Log dedicated more than two pages in its report disputing the findings of that study.)

Other Dominion-commissioned studies found that the pipeline would result in almost $38 million in economic activity, support 1,300 jobs and, by 2022, generate $10.4 million in local tax revenue in 13 counties and cities along the route.

Bacon’s bottom line: These are weighty issues. In the abstract,, Key-Log’s economic logic makes sense to me (although its calculations of lost economic value entail numerous assumptions that I have not examined). On the other hand, Dominion has a point — Virginia has as many miles of natural gas pipeline as it does Interstate highways, but the existing pipelines haven’t sucked the life out of the state.

Perhaps one way to approach the problem is to conduct a thought experiment. What would happen if someone waved a magic wand and made an existing pipeline disappear? Would we see a leap in property values along the no-longer-existent route? That’s hard to imagine. Unlike electric transmission lines, pipelines are so unobtrusive that I can’t even think of where one is located. And that says a lot.

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21 responses to “Econometric Studies at Fifty Paces!

  1. I come at this a different way.

    why should a person have to provide an easement if they don’t want to?

    and second – why should as many companies who want to propose pipelines be given the right to force 4 times a many people to give up their property rights when one corridor is all that is justified, if that?

    it’s fascinating to me that the folks who claim to be “defenders” of people’s Constitutional “rights” – are no where to be seen on this issue… . why?

    and why is the resident “leftist” the only one standing up for property rights here in BR?

    I MIGHT see the argument that ONE pipeline is for a public purpose – but FOUR?

  2. “It’s fascinating to me that the folks who claim to be “defenders” of people’s Constitutional “rights” – are no where to be seen on this issue…”

    Actually, the property rights lawyers who campaigned for eminent domain reform in Virginia are all over this. They’ve filed suits that have made their way to the Virginia Supreme Court.

    • and the ones who are “vocal” about it in politics and at the General Assembly level?

      • LarrytheG There were people, including me, who testified at the General Assembly for the proposed legislation to take back some of our property rights. Not only were the supportive volunteer voices ignored, but Senators’ questions to me clearly indicated belief that there is no risk to the pipelines and that giving gas companies an extra tool with which to pummel landowners shouldn’t be questioned. The industry had a line of full-time lobbyists speaking against the legislation and they had probably had time to visit privately with each of the legislators on the panel. In Virginia businesses matter a lot more than the rest of us, even when we are running small businesses ourselves. I’ve been extremely disappointed, but not really surprised, how easily we’ve been ignored and how little support landowners have found. We’ve tried to get the messages out in various ways, but the media always allows Dominion to counter whatever we say while not necessarily giving us the same opportunity when Dominion puts something out. There’s no wonder you think we haven’t been vocal.

  3. The difference between the “million dollar” view that is considered in the Key-Log study and “I don’t notice them” pipelines that Dominion refers to is this: The pipelines that have existed for decades were mostly constructed in open farmland or at the edge of urban areas which were later developed. After many decades the pastures have re-established and urban sprawl has covered them over (parking lots). The views described in the Key-Log report are in areas that people travel many miles to see or pay premium prices for real estate to enjoy (Wintergreen, etc.). The pipeline corridor in these areas will be cut through national forests or private woodlots, and will be kept open as a scar across the Alleghenies and the Blue Ridge using herbicides and other methods for the next 100 years. I think it is difficult to quantify this effect, although Key-Log references many studies over several decades which address exactly this point.

    It is true that the beauty of this region is a draw to many people, to either visit or live, and the pipeline will make it poorer in many residents’ eyes. The bigger issue is the potential effect on drinking water, which is also difficult to quantify. As the headwater to two major river systems, this region is blessed with pure drinking water which could be drastically and irretrievably affected by the blasting and erosion caused by pipeline construction. The water specialists in the area say there is no way to put a cost on the potential damage because there could be no remediation possible that would return the original conditions.

    It is difficult to compare studies which derive from different points of view about a project. However, as someone who has supervised socioeconomic studies regarding utility projects, I can only say that the Key-Log study is much more clearly presented and far better supported by outside references, than the studies portraying possible economic benefits of the ACP. The studies that Dominion commissioned are not well supported. They do not identify their assumptions or the methods by which their numbers are derived. If both studies were independently peer reviewed, the Key-Log study would pass; the ICF and Chmura reports would not.

    Just as an example, the ICF study claims $724 million in economic benefits and several thousands of secondary jobs created from a temporary price advantage in the Marcellus that is likely to disappear before the ACP is in operation. These and similar numbers are the ones constantly referred to in brochures and statements to the press to persuade Virginians of the benefits of the project – even though the numbers don’t hold up to scrutiny.

    The issue of eminent domain is crucial though. The Virginia constitution was amended a few years ago to avoid the application of eminent domain in the state for projects that are purely for private profit. The ACP is definitely for private profit – not to serve the public convenience and necessity. It is a good business deal for Dominion and its partners, but it will be subsidized by the ratepayers and the citizens who will suffer a loss when their property is taken against their will.

    The alternative of using existing pipelines, as supported by the Department of Energy report of Feb. 2015, is much cheaper with far less impacts than the ACP. We can have twice the supply of natural gas in Virginia compared to the ACP; in a way that provides more flexibility for future power plant siting, greater opportunity for residential and commercial development, the ability to deal with both higher or lower expected gas usage without economic consequences – all at a lower cost to ratepayers.

    By using the federal process, the ACP has a much lower threshold to qualify for eminent domain than would be the case in Virginia. FERC has never disapproved a pipeline application. But we as a state will subsidize this project, with no one but a collection of private citizens looking after our interests.

  4. I don’t have a problem with pipeline or powerline corridors – per se.

    yes they are scars just as I-64 over Afton Mountain is a scar…

    some scars are truly for a public purpose and necessary – and the rights of the greater good – win.

    other corridors are for private profit gain… even if the gas is not exported – it’s still for private purpose – and if the corporation obtains the right of way – truly – with willing seller/willing buyer – and this is not impossible by any stretch – then I’m okay with it – even though it is visual and does impact public views.

    there are many existing corridors for pipelines and before we add new ones we need to make sure the existing ones are not viable – and by that I do not mean because one company owns it and the new company wants it’s own.

    It’s like cable and phone companies using the same power line poles.. or multiple cell companies on the same cell tower … etc..

    it’s like utility companies uses the same rights-of-ways along roads for water, sewer, cable, phone, fiber optic, etc…

    why is Dominion allowed to bypass existing pipeline transmission companies and form it’s own pipeline business to compete – and in doing so use eminent domain to force people to sell land when it’s clearly not a true public purpose but rather a clear for-profit venture?

    and again – we have no shortage of political “patriots” running around these days “safeguarding” the Constitutional “rights” of folks -but totally AWOL on this.

    • Larry,
      Key-Logic addressed this a bit. You say if Dominion could find willing sellers for the easements they need – that would be OK with you. But many other people are affected by the pipeline that will not be party to the economic transaction with Dominion. Thousands of people in the so-called “incineration zone” are within 1000′ of the pipeline but would not receive any compensation for their added risk. Their property value would likely diminish and their normal access (and evacuation) routes would be disrupted since no vehicles or farm equipment can travel over the pipeline.

      People now working in restaurants or retail stores who would lose their jobs as tourism declines, would not receive any compensation from Dominion either. I don’t know how many people have actually seen large scale gas transmission pipeline construction. It’s not a pretty sight. For this size pipeline a 8-10 foot deep trench is required. The horizontal drilling proposed in several sensitive areas creates huge muddy slurry ponds often on challenging terrain with a high chance of overflow, sedimentation and erosion. Dominion is planning for a “self-policing” program of erosion and water quality control – designed to respond to complaints. That means they might do something, but only after the problem has already occurred. The DEQ seems to be silent on the matter and new bills designed to remedy this situation have been quashed in the GA.

      • re: willing sellers and incineration zones

        do we have precedent for siting the larger pressurized pipelines?

        do they have bigger corridors or safety zones further away from people and structures?

        in terms of scenic – flat terrain – you never see the interior corridors…that already exist for the most part – so not sure how that is any different than many other corridors –

        over the mountains – yes… and perhaps they should be tunneled and drilled and it should be a consortium – a shared asset once built -would like to see cost for tunnel/drill…

        another idea – bring the pipeline along the existing corridors over the mountains.. through the gaps and passes already there – rivers, wind gaps, roads…

        I’m a paddler – of most rivers in Va – not every mile of every river but quite a many – and major rivers have two significant characteristics -one natural and one manmade.

        the first is they cut through mountain ranges.. the James cuts through the Blue Ridge and several cut through the Allegheny Mountains … Potomac, Shenandoah, etc. – the New, Monongahela, Cheat through WVA.

        the second characteristic? Railroads.. powerlines and pipelines follow rivers.. conform to the land – and rails – as noisy and disruptive as they are – accepted as a necessary part of civilization and now interstate corridors.

        i note a road proposal in Texas had a 1000 foot right of way that intended to have an interstate, a rail, pipeline and pipeline all in the corridor.

        I’m not advocating that – 1000 foot would be a totally unacceptable scar in the Blue Ridge but pointing out co-location of roads and pipelines is likely an acceptable safety compromise.

        one last point – we cannot be opposed to a pipeline on general environmental lines – that’s a deal breaker that we cannot let greenies use as proxy for opposition to a a civilized world.

        The Marcus Shale is ephemeral – it will run out – and the pipeline likely become obsolete and abandoned and turned into rail-to-trail in a generation or two…..once we exhaust the gas.

        • A pipeline must cross contours at a 90 degree angle, Most roads, railroads, etc. follow contours. This means that pipelines must go straight downhill. Trenching in the sideslope makes the pipeline vulnerable to landslides. Unstable ground is not a good thing for something filled with flammable gas. Even when it traverses relatively flat ground in the valley bottom, the swiss-cheese like karst is prone to frequent sinkholes. Imagine a section of huge 42″ pipeline when the bottom falls out under a welded seam.

          The right-of-way is 125′ wide for construction and 75′ wide thereafter. There is not sufficient space through most road cuts in steep terrain for construction of a pipeline. Usually the median is narrow to reduce excavation and the cut goes up quickly from the roadside.

          Nothing of this size has been built in this region before. Dominion Transmission admits that this is far larger than any pipeline they have previously constructed. That is why most workers will come from elsewhere. They have constructed 42″ pipelines in the West.

          As pipelines age, they corrode and welds break down.

          The new route around Cheat Mountain was previously rejected by Dominion. This is what they said about it in material submitted earlier: “Approximately 24.3 miles of the route crosses slopes greater than 30 percent and approximately 8.6 miles of the route crosses side slopes greater than 30 percent. A total of approximately 55.5 miles of the route crosses areas characterized by the USGS as having high incidence for landslides,” Dominion said.

          I understand the view of many that this is a “tree hugger” issue, but there is far more than that involved in this case. The most important point is that all of this is totally unnecessary. Construction in this fragile terrain is not required to provide an adequate supply of gas to Virginia. I don’t think this idea has been covered in any media outlet in any depth. Dominion has always quickly responded with “our customers expect us to meet their demands and the ACP is the only way to do that”. Well, in Virginia the customers (Brunswick and Greensville plants) are already supplied with gas by a new pipeline. And the future plants in 2022 and 2030 (if needed) have more choices for location by connecting to the Columbia Gas and Transco pipelines that cross throughout the state than they do with the single corridor for the ACP. North Carolina has many choices and is not dependent on an pipeline in Virgina for adequate gas supply. This is strictly a business proposition, not an issue of public need.

    • Also, this is not about sharing rights-of-way with existing pipelines. This is about using pipelines that already exist to move the gas. When adequate takeaway pipelines are built in the Marcellus (by 2017), the full output of the Marcellus can reach the national gas transmission system. Once this occurs most of the supply to the northeast and mid-Atlantic states will come directly from the Marcellus. Many of the pipelines in the Transco corridor which have historically been the means to transport gas from the Texas/Gulf Coast supply zones up the eastern seaboard will now be available. According to the Department of Energy, these existing pipelines should reverse flow to bring natural gas from the Marcellus into Virginia and the Carolinas. A project that requires just 3 miles of new construction and 26 miles of replacement pipeline will add an additional 1.3 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) to the Columbia Gas system in West Virginia and Virginia. Combined with the the now southward flow in the Transco pipelines more than twice the capacity than is provided by the ACP would be available to Virginia in pipelines that already crisscross the state.

      The Columbia Gas pipeline connects to the AGL (Virginia Natural Gas) pipeline that currently serves the Chesapeake/Norfolk area. Rather than accepting more flow through this existing pipeline, the ACP proposes to build a 77 mile 20″ pipeline from Chesapeake to intercept the main ACP pipeline just after it crosses into North Carolina.

      Natural gas supply to North Carolina could be accessed along the same route as proposed in the ACP. It could use the Transco corridor along the southern border of Virginia where a new pipeline has just been built to serve the Brunswick and Greensville plants. Dominion wants to abandon this new pipeline in favor of the ACP. A connection to the Transco corridor in west central North Carolina could also be made. The choices in North Carolina are as good as or better than with the ACP without needing a new pipeline running through Virginia.

      All the utilities could get as much gas as they need, more quickly, more cheaply, and with far less impacts than with the ACP. They just wouldn’t own the pipeline.

      • Tom, do you know if Transco and/or Columbia Gas have filed briefs with FERC opposing the ACP? If the situation is as you described it, surely they have. They would know better than anyone how much gas business they would stand to lose and how much excess capacity they would have.

        • Jim,

          They have not as far as I am aware. But I think this might be professional courtesy. Those in the club probably don’t want to interfere with the others’ projects.

          I am very puzzled about how Transco and Dominion worked out the deal for the new Transco spur to serve the Brunswick and Greensville plants. Certainly it can’t be good for Transco to lose 96% of the revenues for a new pipeline just a few years after it is built. Maybe they just wanted a way to get a new pipeline in the ground and Dominion was their ticket to do so. Dominion even paid extra in this contract for improvements to reverse flow in some of the Transco pipelines heading south so they know this is a possibility. It could have been for Cove Point though. They are taking some of the gas supply for the LNG export plant from the Transco corridor, as well as from one of Dominion Transmission’s pipelines and another small one.

          The ACP is not just intended to serve new gas plants. They have designed connections to the Columbia Gas pipeline and the Transco pipelines so that they can arbitrage natural gas throughout the southeast. I am sure they have a very well researched plan for long term domination (along with Duke) of natural gas supply to the Southeast in a pipeline that they own. I do not believe that they are looking kindly upon efforts to disrupt their master plan.

          Williams (the owner of the Transco pipeline) is also involved in a merger/takeover deal, so their attention might be elsewhere.

          That is why I am saying that this is a very good project in the eyes of Dominion and Duke. But it will not be good for Virginia ratepayers and citizens. There are much cheaper and better alternatives using existing pipelines.

          Imagine a scenario where natural gas prices increase rapidly. Experts predict affordable gas will peak in the Marcellus in 2018-2020. Natural gas prices in Australia increased 300-400% once they started exporting LNG. Suppose lower demand and contributions from solar and energy efficiency push back the need for new combined cycle plants. If the ACP has just sunk over $5 billion in a new pipeline that is transporting less gas than expected – who makes up the missing revenue? I think that might be one of the reasons to keep pushing on the CPP and build more gas plants.

          Existing pipelines can deal with higher and lower than expected gas flows with little economic disruption. Not true for the ACP.

          The Department of Energy report states that even with the high-gas demand scenario, the existing pipeline system will be running at about 61% capacity, compared to 57% capacity in the reference case. (this is from memory I was not able to track down the original notes). They do not specify which pipelines this includes, however.

  5. On many levels, size of the pipe makes a tremendous difference. The 42 inch high pressure pipelines are fairly new. There aren’t a lot of them and they haven’t been in place for decades like the smaller size, mostly non-pressurized, ones. The studies showing no impact by pipelines on land value were done long ago and the pipelines that are described as peacefully coexisting with agriculture involve much smaller pipelines. More recent studies seem to be pointing to different results. The smaller pipelines and these large ones are both 3 feet under ground and have the same size corridors for easements. Further, recent findings indicate that the new pipes are performing much like pipes from the 1940’s in terms of reliability – not very well. Meanwhile, there is almost no non-industry provided safety oversight, especially in rural areas, since Congress told the federal regulator to focus on more populated areas.

    The KeyLogic study describes the methodology and assumptions and uses conservative numbers. The Dominion studies provide little information about methodology and assumptions although they say they use conservative numbers. They do not specify where the jobs they list will be located or what the job titles will be. They assume no loss of land value, and thus only show an increase in property taxes to localities. Presumably, the value of the pipeline infrastructure will decline with time so the tax dollars distributed to localities will also decline. Many of the areas the proposed pipeline crosses already have gas. It is not clear why the new source will bring local distribution systems and employment that the existing lines have not brought. The high quantity of gas required to be taken each month and the high access cost would lead one to believe that the owners do intend for this to be a long distance transmission line, not a provider to the localities crossed. Under the circumstances, it seems imprudent to count new jobs and income from them.

    Further, it seems that there should be careful and thorough analysis of the impact of all of the proposed pipelines, and determination whether all are needed. Some sources (including Department of Energy) indicate that if existing infrastructure were improved in some ways that new infrastructure might not be needed.

    Finally, the gas market is very volatile, especially over time. There are questions about the lifespan of the gas resources, and indications that the new infrastructure is likely to outlive the need.

    So far it appears that FERC is not addressing any of these issues in a meaningful way.

    • Dominion has admitted that the ACP is intended solely as a wholesale pipeline for utility use only. The tap-in fee they will charge is too high for local distribution systems, or industrial parks to afford. The claimed benefit for local Virginia industrial development will not occur from access to this gas.

      Dominion claims that thousands of jobs will be created in the 3-state region of construction. Another developer of a similar sized pipeline through West Virginia and Virginia has admitted that just 10% of the jobs might be available to local applicants. This would provide a few hundred jobs spread over three states. Most of which would last just a year or so.

      It is one thing for Dominion to use these figures for PR purposes, but as yet there does not appear to be any in-depth questioning of the results or assumptions coming from FERC. I have never before seen such laxity on the part of a regulatory agency by accepting partially baked studies at face value.

      All other reviews of multi-billion dollar utility projects of which I have been a party to, have all been adjudicatory proceedings, with an Administrative Law Judge, which allowed cross examination of witnesses. This is a slow and expensive process, but it usually does a decent job of clarifying the issues and identifying sloppy work. Dominion has asked FERC to approve this project using a paper exchange only. I am amazed that this is being seriously considered with a project that has so many complex issues to resolve.

      Dominion solved the denial of their previous route by the U.S. Forest service, by selecting an alternate route that they previously considered unsuitable and too dangerous to develop. My experience has been that utilities are populated with many well meaning people, but this shows callous disregard for anything but getting their way.

  6. I think the way Dominion is conducting themselves on the pipeline – also reflects on the behavior for CPP and the James River crossing…

    less than straight-forward trustable conduct…

    they’re used to getting their way – and they’re starting to show little slip below that skirt…

    I think they’re better than this – they ought to be… reputations are hard to gain and so easy to squander … when the wrong people in the organization get too cynical and disrespectful of the public.

  7. Marcus Shale gas is a strategic fuel with a limited lifespan.

    queueing it up to be sold as fast and as much in a free market supply/demand market without knowing how long it will last and more important – what we would replace it with – in a world where wind/solar need the gas to complement – is exceptionally shortsighted.

    I’m quite sure – at some point the pro-coal folks would just love to say: “see – we’ve run out of natural gas and now wind and solar are useless” and we must return to coal.

    as such – Natural Gas does not belong to whoever wants to get it and sell it for maximum short term profits…

    • Wind and solar won’t be useless without cheap natural gas. Reasonable cost peaking capacity is very helpful in the near term until affordable storage and other methods exist. But higher priced gas, just makes renewables even more competitive.

      An article just published in Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/sites/marshallshepherd/2016/02/15/how-weather-and-an-interstate-of-renewable-energy-could-save-the-climate-by-2030/#6ba7b015285a), states that CO2 emissions can be reduced by 80% relative to 1990 levels without an increase in the levelized cost of energy. This proposal requires a new interstate network of high-voltage DC transmission (a radical and not inexpensive concept in itself). A Stanford expert Mark Jacobson, who was not involved in the study, wrote an editorial to Nature Climate Change saying, “This study pushes the envelope…….It shows that intermittent renewables plus transmission can eliminate most fossil-fuel electricity while matching power demand at lower cost than a fossil fuel-based grid – even before storage is considered”. Even so, we have night-time baseload requirements. The nukes won’t last forever.

      However, much is changing and rushing to build unnecessary infrastructure that will cause great damage and will last 100 years does not seem to be the best public policy at this time.

      • One other issue that no one is talking about. Consider a multi-year period of considerably lower world-wide economic output – a deflationary period that the world’s central bankers are trying so desperately to avoid. This would keep gas prices low, but would also likely postpone or erase the need for new gas plants. I don’t want to throw another wrench in the works, but only to illustrate that we face great uncertainty as to how our future will unfold. It is a difficult time for utility planners and policy makers. But in times of uncertainty the best solution is usually to make a series of small nimble moves that adjust to the distance that we can see ahead until the trend becomes more clear. Charging ahead assuming that the next 50 years will be exactly like the last 50 years does seem to be responsible at this time.

  8. “Virginia has as many miles of natural gas pipeline as it does Interstate highways, but the existing pipelines haven’t sucked the life out of the state.”

    Talk about an “ad absurdum” argument. The question of whether the pipeline reduces property values or whether it will be “sucking the life out of the state” have no logical relationship.

    The pipeline will most definitely reduce property values. To claim otherwise is ridiculous. The pipeline owners will insist on cutting a swath through the natural vegetation, they will erect 5 foot tall bright yellow markers every 10 meters or so indicating there is a pipeline underneath the clear cut (as if that’s really necessary for the half-wits to find the pipe if they need to). All of which detracts from the property value for any property where the clear cut and yellow markers are visible.

    Dominion’s denial of the property value reduction is fueled by their effective ownership of our state legislature. They feel safe in the knowledge that they can make any sort of idiotic public comment because the only Virginians who matter are the 140 “bought and paid for” members of the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond.

  9. It has been enlightening reading these comments.

    Larry has been a model of common sense and perspective.

    DonR raises deep and very real concerns, important issues arising anew in a real and changing world.

    TomH writes himself off a cliff.

    One way to find the demagogues today is to Google the issues.

    Try Gas explosions, and Gas pipeline deaths, for starters.

    The world, my friends, is coming down around our ears with the horror and danger of underground gas lines. Watch our for those long strips of grass! Whole swaths of the Wikipedia are busily and madly are taking up the subject, polluting intelligent discourse. It quite a little jihad going on. Even Samuel Adams is now a grand statesman of the 18th century, the perfect modern day model for these tin-horn demagogues now assembling madly in mass to Goosestep off righteously in mindless lockstep, – busy, busy, busy, scribbling away, saving the world from underground pipes.

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