Curtis Tate Published

Coal Industry Opposes Natural Gas Pipeline State Leaders Support

Chris Hamilton, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.
Chris Hamilton, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.
Perry Bennett/WV Legislative Photography

Environmental groups have opposed the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and they’ve had some success blocking it in court.

They may have an unlikely ally: the West Virginia Coal Association.

Coal Association President Chris Hamilton told Sen. Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur, and a member of the Economic Development Committee, that the association had supported the pipeline in the past.

But Chris Hamilton said the 300-mile natural gas pipeline would displace coal-fired electricity generation at four power plants in North Carolina.

“So you’d be against it now?” Bill Hamilton asked.

“Yes,” Chris Hamilton said.

“Unfortunate, thank you,” Bill Hamilton said.

The committee then approved Senate Bill 188, which would expedite permitting for natural gas projects in West Virginia.

Chris Hamilton encouraged lawmakers to modify the bill with language that gave equal favor to coal and natural gas for electricity generation, but the committee voted down the effort.

The 42-inch diameter pipeline is a priority for state leaders, including U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last year gave the pipeline’s builders a four-year extension to finish the project.