On back-to-back nights at Millersville University and Franklin & Marshall College (Nov. 4-5), Lancaster County residents heard a presentation delivered by Dr. Dennis Witmer, a Millersville University alum and veteran energy analyst. Although Dr. Witmer supports natural gas use in the United States under certain conditions, he delivered a scathing critique of Williams’s proposed Atlantic Sunrise Project, meticulously detailing why the project should be rejected by FERC and aggressively opposed by Lancaster County residents.
#1: The Atlantic Sunrise Project (ASP) is economically doomed.
Public data confirms that the ASP is primarily intended to ship natural gas supplies from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale to overseas markets, primarily in Asia. While the 2013 price of natural gas in these markets appeared to promise profits to a small number of investors at the time, plunging gas prices over the past two years will likely yield massive losses for companies now rushing to move US gas overseas. Witmer issued a dire warning to ASP investors, advising them to pull out now while they can.
#2: The Atlantic Sunrise Project represents a massive redistribution of wealth from the middle class to a small number of wealthy investors.
Since the Atlantic Sunrise plans to ship US energy to oversea markets, those being forced to carry the costs and risks of the project (via fracking, transmission line construction, permanent right-of-ways, etc.) realize no lasting benefit from this costly, and sometimes dangerous, industrialization. In short, everyday Americans are shouldering enormous costs so residents of Japan and India can enjoy access to cheaper gas. Witmer describes the ASP “a huge transfer of wealth from the US consumer to the wealthy few.”
#3: The Atlantic Sunrise Project means higher gas prices for US consumers.
By shipping US gas overseas for higher profits, instead of keeping it in place for US customers down the road, Williams is keeping gas prices higher in the US despite a glut of domestic natural gas. But, according to Witmer, the greed of the gas industry doesn’t end there! Because later on, when US gas supplies are running low, the industry will sell that gas back to us for inflated prices once again! The gas companies profit in both cases; US consumers lose in both cases. Refer back to Point #2.
#4: The Atlantic Sunrise Project does not meet the criteria for Eminent Domain.
Given the explicit intentions of the ASP to transfer US natural gas to foreign markets, Witmer openly challenges those who say this project serves “a public good” for Americans. He sees large-scale litigation on the horizon if Williams persists in its plans to run this pipeline through the communities of unwilling landowners here in Lancaster and other affected counties.
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