Atlantic Coast Pipeline Inks Labor Contracts

Now that the State Water Control Board has approved water-quality permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), the odds look exceedingly good that the board will approve comparable permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) as well. Indeed, state regulatory approval looks like such a lock that the ACP has signed project labor agreements with four major construction trade unions.

The agreements cover these four unions:

  • Laborers’ International Union of North America. Laborers install environmental control devices, perform ground clearing, coat and install the pipe and restore the right of way.
  • Teamsters National Pipeline. Teamsters transport personnel, materials and equipment.
  • International Union of Operating Engineers. Operators operate excavators, bull dozers, pipe bending and laying machines, cranes, forklifts and other construction equipment.
  • The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States. Welders weld and bend the pipe, install road bores and perform hydrostatic testing.

“This is the biggest job-creating infrastructure project we’ve seen in our region for many decades,” said Dennis Martire, LiUNA’s Vice President & Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild our region’s infrastructure and bring back the middle class jobs that have disappeared from too many of our communities. Our members live in these communities, so we have a personal stake in doing this the right way and with the utmost care for safety and the environment.”

While the two pipeline projects will be a boon to the construction unions — 13,000 workers will be needed to build the ACP — landowners and others living along the path of the pipeline routes remain adamantly opposed to both projects.

“[Governor] Terry McAuliffe has harmed farmers, consumers, drinking water, and the climate by pushing the Virginia Water Control Board to give final approval today of the Mountain Valley Pipeline,” said Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network said after the 5 to 2 vote. “The 301-mile pipeline for fracked gas constitutes a colossal misallocation of resources and will permanently harm the Governor’s economic and environmental legacies.”

“We are thoroughly disappointed by the board’s decision. Thousands voiced their opposition to this pipeline based on evidence that it cannot be built without violating the federal Clean Water Act and the board’s obligation under Virginia law,” said Tom Cormons, executive director of Appalachian Voices. “DEQ created a rushed, haphazard process, limited the scope of the board’s review, and abdicated the state’s authority to the Corps of Engineers for oversight of pipeline construction at almost 400 water crossings.”

While pipeline foes have cited many reasons for opposing the two projects, they have focused in recent months on blocking state regulatory approval on the grounds that the regs cannot adequately protect water quality from construction on steep mountain slopes in karst terrain riddled with underground streams.

Having met defeat at every turn at the federal and state levels, the last resort is the courts. “We are considering all options,” said Cormons, “and expect the outcome will be determined in the courts.”

If Mountain Valley Pipeline breaks ground on the project, he added, “citizens along the entire route are prepared to watchdog every action, along every mile, every day of construction and afterwards, and compel agencies to act when violations inevitably occur.”

The water control board is expected to vote on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline this Monday.

Update: That was fast! Minutes after I posted this story, Appalachian Mountain Advocates announced that it has filed suit in Richmond’s U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. “The DEQ’s erosion and sediment control plans and stormwater control plans are incomplete and have not been presented to the Board,” said David Sligh, conservation director of Wild Virginia, which is allied with Appalachian Mountain Advocates. “Karst analyses are incomplete. Data related to specific waterbody crossings is non-existent. The Nationwide 12 permit has not yet been authorized and determined to be applicable.  The procedure is not based on sound science and is legally flawed. We cannot accept this betrayal of our trust and our rights without challenge.”

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9 responses to “Atlantic Coast Pipeline Inks Labor Contracts”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    Union Labor? What the… Surely the right-to-work Conservatives here should be OUTRAGED !!! Why… this is as bad as Metro and Davis-Beacon..


    Are TWO pipelines economically viable? Does Mountain Valley have an advantage in that it already has some of the infrastructure in place and is adding to it…

    Will Dominion go forward even if it becomes clear that Mountain Valley starts first and finishes first?

    Is there enough market for gas for both pipelines to be profitable?

  2. Union labor is perfectly fine with conservatives if construction companies voluntarily contract with them to supply labor — as opposed to have the requirement written into bid specifications by a public authority like the Metropolitan Washington Airports Commission.

    The concept of voluntary behavior typically seems to elude you, Larry.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    Ain’t buying that bogus blather. Conservatives jump up and down about how BAD unions are and no self-respecting Conservative worth their salt would “voluntarily” sign up for union labor!

    Yes.. I realize that these days at any point in time for Conservatives Up can be down and vice versa …. “depending”… Conservative “values” has become an oxymoron.

  4. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Also union made. What you know about conservatives and conservatism, Larry, would fit on a 3 by 5 card with room for a few verses of the Internationale.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Lots of things are union made and lots of services are provided by unions but you don’t even need a 3×5 card to do a simple GOOGLE search on how Conservatives feel about unions.

      Just in this blog alone – a simple search about METRO and the evil unions would yield a treasure trove of rancid blather..!!!

      Would you like to see a few Steve? Here you go guy:

      ” Just How Much Do Republicans Hate Unions?”

      it’s actually pretty easy… just a few keywords like Union and Conservatives and a firehouse of info about Conservatives feelings about unions will come at you!

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        It’s pretty safe to say that if Conservatives had a solid majority of governance.. they’d outlaw unions in the Constitution:

        ” RICHMOND (2016)

        Virginia has had a right-to-work law since 1947 governing organized labor.

        The law forbids an employer from requiring union membership as a condition of employment.

        Republicans in the General Assembly want to go a step further, and Virginia voters will decide Tuesday whether to make that provision of state law part of the state constitution.

        Republicans, who control both houses of the General Assembly, say the proposed constitutional amendment is necessary because a future legislature might repeal the law. Democrats say it’s an attack on workers and unnecessary because apparently no lawmaker has proposed changing the law in the nearly 70 years it’s been on the books.”

        I think that fits on a 3 x 5 with space left over Steve with room left over for this:

        “Should Article I of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to prohibit any agreement or combination between an employer and a labor union or labor organization whereby (i) nonmembers of the union or organization are denied the right to work for the employer, (ii) membership to the union or organization is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or (iii) the union or organization acquires an employment monopoly in any such enterprise?”

        Response Votes Percent

        1,743,255 46.38%
        2,015,475 53.62%

      2. Just in this blog alone – a simple search about METRO and the evil unions would yield a treasure trove of rancid blather..!!!

        When I wrote about unions and construction of the Silver Line my sole criticism was directed at WMATA’s decision to require a union workforce for prime contractors as a condition for submitting a bid — which effectively precluded non-union shops. If bidders wanted to hire unions because that was the best business decision for them, I had no problem.

        Somehow you characterize that line of thinking as “rancid blather.”

        If you’re looking for “rancid blather,” Larry, look at your own writing.

  5. For large construction jobs these days, often the supervisors and highly skilled positions are union members because of their skill and experience. The far more numerous lower skilled jobs are usually filled by non-union workers.

    These jobs will last just 8-10 months according to the pipeline owners. The MVP says 10% of the workforce will be hired locally. The ACP says 50% will be local. You form your own opinion about which is more accurate. This will hardly rebuild the middle class in Virginia communities.

    All of this attention on construction jobs continues to overlook the fundamental realities. Existing pipelines in our region are adding several times the capacity to their systems than are being provided by the ACP and MVP combined. Between 2007 and 2016 we added 121 Bcf/d to our nation’s pipeline capacity. For comparison, the EIA says natural gas use in the U.S. in 2016 averaged 75.11 Bcf/d, with a seasonal high use of 93.1 Bcf/d in January 2017.

    We don’t have a shortage of pipeline capacity, especially since forecasts of traditional natural gas use and electricity use are relatively flat. Florida, one of the states with the fastest growth in population and economic activity, experienced total natural gas use that is 4% lower this year than last year. Florida Power & Light expects this downward trend to continue in the 10-year plan they submitted to state regulators. Yet, like elsewhere, they are continuing to overbuild gas-fired power plants and the pipelines they think will be necessary to serve them.

    The major point that is overlooked in all of this cheer-leading is that these new pipelines will cost us billions of dollars. Over the 20-year contracts signed by the utilities controlled by the owners of the ACP, the ratepayers of those utilities will pay about $3 billion more in Virginia and over $6 billion more in North Carolina than they would if they were served by connections to existing pipelines.

    Why are we so eager to trade a few months of temporary work for a thousand, when millions of families and businesses in Virginia and North Carolina will pay billions extra because of the ACP?

    The MVP has no customers. About a third of its capacity is spoken for by utilities. But they are located in Florida, D.C., and New York. The New York Public Service Commission is opening an inquiry into why New York City ratepayers would be better off getting gas via the MVP than they would if they were served directly from northeastern Pennsylvania as they are today. ConEd failed to notify the PSC that they were part-owners of the MVP.

    All of the utilities that are shippers on the MVP could receive gas far more cheaply from existing pipelines than they could from the MVP. Only Roanoke Gas is connected to the MVP, taking only 0.5% of its capacity. But even Roanoke Gas could likely receive gas cheaper by connecting to nearby existing pipelines than they could from the MVP.

    Nearly two-thirds of the capacity of the MVP is reserved by EQT, the largest gas producer in the Appalachian Basin. It has no customers, but will owe the MVP over $9 billion for its 20-year contract. In recent financial filings, EQT admitted it did not have sufficient capital to complete construction of the project.

    By overlooking this information, regulators, political, business, and labor leaders are trading an extremely short-term gain for long-term pain for everybody else. By this short-sighted action they are harming their own long-term interests along with everyone else’s. There is a better way.

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    Someone has to come up with the money to build these pipelines before they start returning on that investment.

    Who is investing in them and why are they so sure they’re going to get their money back and then some?

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