Why we need PennEast and other natural gas pipelines

The Morning Call published an op-ed written by GAIN spokesman Craig Stevens concerning America’s growing need for natural gas pipelines like the PennEast pipeline project. Stevens reasons that in 2019, 31% of power generated from the regional PJM transmission system has come from natural gas – a 25% increase from 2005. He goes on to explain how this natural gas boom brings with it considerable economic benefits:

This level of productivity brings considerable economic opportunity. Clean, affordable, reliable natural gas keeps business and industry productive while also generating direct benefits in the form of jobs, state and local tax revenue, cost savings and community investment. According to the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission, for instance, the state has distributed more than $1.5 billion in impact taxes since 2012, supporting hundreds of locally driven community improvement efforts.

The PUC also pegs household savings tied to natural gas production at roughly $1,200 thanks to lower heating and electricity costs. PricewaterhouseCoopers, meanwhile, estimates that more than 322,000 Pennsylvania jobs are either directly or indirectly tied to natural gas production.

Pennsylvania is a clear example of the advantages that natural gas development can bring to a state. The problem is that, in order to sustain this increase in natural gas production, new pipeline infrastructure needs to be constructed, and that isn’t happening.

The source of the capacity challenges isn’t complicated. There’s no shortage of investment potential, supply or engineering know-how. Rather, it’s simple political activism that’s dragging progress to a halt and threatening the region’s energy outlook.

A paper released recently by a local environmental advocacy group, for example, attempts to stop progress on proposed pipelines by raising environmental concerns. The irony of this effort, as is so often the case with pipeline opposition, is that the approval of the infrastructure being protested would represent a significant step forward in improving sustainability efforts.

Stevens goes on to note that the PennEast pipeline, a project worth $1 billion in investment, would help bring natural gas in fields from Pennsylvania to New Jersey. The project is expected to save energy consumers $1.3 billion, and generate thousands of jobs, but is still facing backlash. He concludes that, even if it makes activists upset, pipeline projects must move forward as natural gas demand continues to increase.

Political opposition is nothing new, and it’s not going anywhere. But even as activists speak out, it’s essential that elected officials and the public alike move forward in pursuit of modern pipeline expansion that strengthens energy security while also preserving our environment. The facts demand it, and the opportunity is too significant to ignore.

The Mid-Atlantic region has been dealt a strong hand. It’s up to us to make sure we don’t throw those cards away.

Read the full article here.


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