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Letter to the Editor: Atlantic Coast Pipeline would help revitalize Eastern North Carolina

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I’ve been a resident of Rocky Mount for nearly three decades. We’ve seen a lot of change over the years. We’ve seen businesses come and go. Even more than that, we’ve seen people come and go. But the most consistent challenge we’ve seen over the past 20 years is how to attract business further east.

I have had the privilege to own and operate a business during my time in Rocky Mount, and I’ve seen the vibrancy of this community. From running a business to having been elected to nine years on our local board of education, I’ve worked with and served with many wonderful people. We love this community; it is our home, and we want to see it succeed for generations to come.

To keep Rocky Mount growing, we must keep our doors open to opportunity. Better infrastructure is essential to making opportunity a reality. We were excited about the Carolina Connector and the potential it brought to our region. Now, it’s time we get excited about another critical infrastructure project —the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).

The pipeline will bring a huge supply of clean-burning natural gas, which produces half the unfavorable emissions that coal does. The gas will dramatically reduce fuel costs for residents and businesses, creating thousands of new jobs and significant long-term revenue for our local economy.

The safety advances made since the pipeline in western North Carolina was built are tremendous. The entire pipeline will be monitored 24 hours a day, and a whole section can be shut down instantly in the very unlikely event than any irregularity is noted.

Right now, the project is awaiting approval by the Department of Environmental Quality.

Not insignificantly, the pipeline owners will be paying local property tax on its installation, adding up to an annual tax revenue of $1 million for Nash County. These new dollars will help to fund our schools, hospitals, first responders and other essential community services. This tax revenue is in addition to the existing property taxes that are paid by the landowners.

An abundant supply of natural gas in Eastern North Carolina will help meet growing demands by residential and existing business customers already using gas. The supply will also help attract new business and industries that can create thousands of permanent, good-paying jobs in our region. We have reached the maximum that we can tap from the pipeline in western North Carolina, and we no longer have enough to assure interested businesses that we can provide the fuel that they must have if they move here.

In addition, the ACP will be instrumental in making the shift away from using coal to generate electricity. We have the very rare chance with the ACP for cleaner air, lower energy costs, new jobs and more revenue. We don’t want to miss this opportunity. Solar and wind power are simply not sufficient, and gas is clearly the cleanest and safest choice that we have to meet our growing needs.

A completed ACP would create energy savings of $134 million per year in Eastern North Carolina. Every year, the state would realize $48 million in labor income and more than $80 million in additional economic activity.

Over the projected two construction years, thousands of jobs would be brought to Eastern North Carolina, with the work generating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity.

The construction of the ACP across our homeland will represent dramatic change, and change can sometimes be difficult to accept. But this change holds out what I see as our only hope for a major improvement in the region’s economy and a sharply reduced reliance on coal-powered energy.

I encourage you to stand with me and support the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to continue revitalization in Rocky Mount and throughout Eastern North Carolina.

Jean Kitchin

Nash County resident

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