All too often, the economic and job-creation benefits of energy infrastructure projects are treated like a smaller subplot to the larger debates over pipeline development — that is, until those jobs and benefits disappear.
That’s exactly what’s happening with Mountain Valley Pipeline, which spans 303 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia. More than 50 percent of the project workforce, or nearly 3,000 laborers, were laid off Friday when work on the pipeline halted along more than 200 miles of the route.
The work stoppage was ordered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) after a court ruling sided with several environmental organizations that oppose the pipeline.
So what does a pipeline shutdown in West Virginia and Virginia have to do with projects in Pennsylvania? The playbook is the same, where opponents protest and file legal challenges to delay work and kill family-sustaining jobs.
The same tactics have been employed in Pennsylvania to varying degrees, and protests and legal challenges to lawfully permitted projects continue at every turn, even though regulations are strict and public hearings prior to permitting are robust and inclusive.
Fortunately, for workers on the Mountain Valley Pipeline, there are indications that the stoppage will not be permanent. For now, however, the damage is done.