GAIN Spokesman Craig Stevens recently wrote an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail highlighting the role of infrastructure in the domestic energy industry and the unexpected hurdles it has faced. For decades following the Oil Crisis of 1973, U.S. policymakers and industry experts saw dependence on foreign oil and gas as inevitable. After tapping into massive shale formations around the country, it turns out the U.S. has a different problem: lack of energy infrastructure. As Stevens argues:
In short order, the United States’ extraordinary shale growth has replaced fears of energy rationing with surpluses at production sites. Unable to keep up with a rapidly expanding output horizon, infrastructure has become the chokepoint limiting the country’s supply potential.
There is much to gain from investing in energy infrastructure in the United States. He shares some remarkable economic predictions:
A 2016 ICF study found that $546 billion of investment in midstream pipeline infrastructure is required to support North America’s oil and gas production forecasts. Meeting that challenge, the report adds, will generate as much as $100 billion in annual GDP and support over a million good-paying American jobs.
Although there is great reward for companies to invest in pipelines and the domestic energy industry, there is also great risk. Companies across North America have faced vast challenges from aggressive environmental activist groups. These activists have been known to make factitious allegations, while some have even turned to vandalism and trespassing at construction sites.
Pipelines endure an extensive permitting process. Regulatory agencies thoroughly conduct comprehensive reviews of pipeline proposals and prioritize environmental risk and safety. However, activists do not seem to be interested in the approval process and facts as it relates to the environment, but rather, are focused on their political dogma rather than the country’s economic growth and energy security. As Mr. Stevens concludes:
They would sooner return to the old days of energy scarcity than admit the crucial role fossil fuels play in our daily lives.
To read the full op-ed, click here