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PSC hearing draws large crowds

By Staff | Nov 2, 2018

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The state Public Service Commission traveled to Shepherdstown to hold a public hearing on the possibility of a natural gas pipeline extension coming to Jefferson County at Shepherd University’s Frank Center on Oct. 24.

More than 80 individuals gave comment during the hearing, while nearly triple that number participated in a rally protesting the pipeline outside of the Frank Center.

The proposed pipeline, which began construction between Berkeley Springs and Martinsburg earlier this year, would continue to expand and improve service in Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson counties. Mountaineer Gas Company is proposing to invest nearly $120 million through 2023 toward the project.

Most of the speakers at the hearing voiced opposition to the project — the majority citing environmental reasons, including the karst geography throughout the area.

Many tied their protests to the Rockwool plant proposed for Jefferson County, expressing their hopes that if the natural gas pipeline is not approved, the Denmark-based insulation company will leave the area.

“My main concern is obviously with Rockwool, but there’s also many other concerns with the geology and with all of the sink holes that are underneath the ground,” said Morgan Sell, of Shepherdstown. “We are worried about our ground water.”

Concerns voiced by others opposing the pipeline included damage to the landscape, possible health effects and explosions or earthquakes that could result from construction of the line.

Not everyone speaking was against the project. Those supporting the pipeline expansion said the reliable, clean energy provided as a result of the project, would lead to reduced emissions and more jobs in the area.

PSC officials have indicated they have until Dec. 28 to make a ruling. Until that time, individuals can continue to submit formal comments online at www.psc.state.wv.us.