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Poll shows support for pipeline in Southwest Virginia

Poll shows support for pipeline in Southwest Virginia

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A section of the Mountain Valley Pipeline is seen under construction in Franklin County in December.

A majority of Southwest Virginians support the construction and operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, according to a recent poll commissioned by the company building the natural gas pipeline.

Surveying by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy found that 66% of the respondents favored the pipeline, which has been under construction since 2018. The poll found 28% opposed and 6% undecided.

However, the poll showed that backing for the project has declined since the start of construction led to widespread environmental problems with muddy runoff.

In 2017, 74% of Southwest Virginia respondents supported the pipeline, compared to the more recent figure of 66%, according to Mason-Dixon.

Although the pipeline has fierce opposition — from those who object to the project’s environmental impact in the Roanoke and New River valleys, contribution to climate change and use of eminent domain to take private land — supporters say its natural gas will fuel economic growth and sustainable energy.

“Mountain Valley is important for our region’s future. As indicated by these latest survey results, most people agree,” Joyce Waugh, president and CEO of the Roanoke Regional Chamber, said in a news release issued by the company.

Statewide, backing for the pipeline was by a closer margin, at 53%. The poll, conducted in December, relied on telephone responses from 625 registered voters selected at random. Based on population percentages, 70 respondents were from Southwest Virginia.

The pipeline “would transport natural gas underground from West Virginia to Virginia to help meet the demand for energy in homes and businesses in various regions of Virginia and the southeastern United States,” the question stated. “Do you support or oppose construction and operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline?”

A different poll commissioned by pipeline opponents drew a much different response.

In 2016, 732 state residents were asked about then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s support for Mountain Valley and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a similar project that has since been canceled.

“He says the pipelines will create jobs, lower bills, help manufacturing and help the environment,” the question stated. “This gas would be extracted through hydraulic fractured drilling, or fracking. Opponents say these pipelines will allow energy corporations to take hundreds of miles of privately owned land from citizens for private corporate gain. Opponents also say the pipelines will harm Virginia farms, worsen pollution, and damage drinking water and local wells.

“Weighing the pros and the cons, do you support the Governor’s efforts to build these pipelines for fracked gas across Virginia, or not?,” the poll asked.

A majority — 55% — responded no. Commissioned by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Virginia Organizing, the poll reflected 28% support and 17% undecided.

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Laurence Hammack covers environmental issues, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and business and enterprise stories. He has been a reporter for The Roanoke Times for more than three decades.

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