PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. – The controversial natural gas pipeline coming through southwest Virginia may expand. A Mountain Valley spokesperson said Wednesday that it wants to lengthen the route, taking it farther south in Pittsylvania County.
The already approved route from northern West Virginia to Chatham would add a 70-mile section, heading into North Carolina toward Eden, then going to Rockingham and Alamance counties.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would have to approve the project for it to move forward.
The exact route of the expansion is unknown, but people in the Tunstall community, which is about a 30-minute drive southwest of Chatham, may be in the pipeline’s path.
"Surely around here it's going to be shocking because no one wants to give up their land unexpectedly,” Pittsylvania County resident James Thompson said.
Many people said Friday that they're concerned about property and safety issues.
"It could bring jobs and things like that, which could be great for this town, but what's the cost? It really is priceless, the things that they may be taking,” Pittsylvania County resident Amanda Mitchell said.
However, many people in this area support the pipeline, wherever it may cross.
"I'm all for progress,” Pittsylvania County resident Ricky Dillion said. "If it came across my land I'd probably deal with it to help this community.”
The expansion announcement came as protesters continued to try to disrupt tree-cutting work for the pipeline's already-approved path on Bent Mountain in Roanoke County.
Police said Friday afternoon that they’ve cut off supplies from family and friends to two people tree-sitting near construction sites. Police said they will continue to stay in the area around the clock.
A Mountain Valley Pipeline spokesperson said the MVP Southgate project is in the planning stages.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported a panel of Virginia regulators now wants to hear public comments on whether the pipeline projects are sufficiently protecting water quality, saying the State Water Control Board approved a comment period. The Associated Press reported Friday that a Department of Environment Quality spokesperson said it’s not yet clear how people can weigh in.