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EDITORIAL: Pipeline project, on balance, is good for us

So far, the reaction to a planned major natural-gas pipeline in eastern North Carolina has been quiet — except for some of the land owners who may become the line’s unwilling hosts.

If it wins approval from federal regulators, the pipeline will begin in West Virginia and follow I-95 all the way to Robeson County.

Here in Cumberland County, it will pass through Godwin, Wade, Eastover, Vander and Gray’s Creek. But except for a few people who own land the pipeline will pass through, it’s not an issue. “We’ve really not had any public discussion of the pipeline,” County Manager Amy Cannon told an Observer reporter earlier this month.

Wade resident Joe Lovick, though, is talking a lot about it. “They take over your land, and you don’t get nothing out of it,” he said. “It’s just dead land. You’ve got to pay taxes for the rest of your life for their benefit.” That’s one issue the county commissioners might want to discuss. People like Lovick — the owners of more than 1,200 North Carolina land parcels that the pipeline will pass through — need a tax break. They will get a one-time payment for an easement through their property, but once the project is approved, it won’t be stopped. Land with unwilling owners will be taken by eminent domain.

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We’re surprised to see strong opposition to the pipeline from some environmental groups in other states. Federal lawsuits have been filed, citing likely environmental disruption along the pipeline’s path.

While some damage is inevitable, there are favorable tradeoffs. Duke Energy, for example, will have sufficient gas supply to continue shutting down its coal-fired electric plants and replacing them with gas-powered plants. That will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent, sulfur dioxide by 84 percent and nitrogen oxide by 63 percent.

The environmentalists say it’s still fossil fuel, and we should be moving to solar and wind instead. We agree, but that’s a long-term strategy, and natural gas is a good bridge to the future.

It may also be a good bridge to industrial development in eastern North Carolina. Although much of that gas is already spoken-for — most going to the pipeline’s backers — it will allow a company like Piedmont Natural Gas to push more gas through its existing network, so it can serve larger industrial customers.

We hope regulators insist on strong environmental guidelines for the project and fair compensation for land owners. But the bottom line is clear: This project will do a lot more good than harm.

This article was from The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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