Real Clear Energy recently published an opinion column by GAIN spokesman Craig Stevens on the importance of continuing energy infrastructure development amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of the energy sector, including power generation, fuel supply, and transmission have been deemed essential – and for good reason. As Stevens writes:
Energy infrastructure is responsible for safely transporting resources to homes and businesses throughout the country. And with tens of millions of Americans sheltering at home, we need to ensure a safe infrastructure system is in place. Families need to power and heat their homes and cook their meals, while grocery stores, hospitals, and pharmacies require reliable energy resources to continue providing critical services.
Stevens highlights that pipelines are the safest, most efficient, and most environmentally conscious method of transporting the natural gas and oil that American consumers use each and every day. Energy infrastructure development, in addition to ensuring reliable energy access for consumers, also supports thousands of high-skilled jobs and provides millions in tax revenue to state and local governments:
Continuing work on critical pipeline infrastructure projects will also help thousands of Americans keep their jobs during a time of economic uncertainty. Projects in energy infrastructure require highly skilled laborers whose work is vital to construction. According to the 2020 U.S. Energy & Employment Report, the energy sector employs nearly 7 million Americans. If governments were to cancel or limit construction on energy infrastructure, these hard working individuals would be adding to the mounting numbers filing for unemployment. Unlike those in other industries, they are unable to do their jobs working remotely from their living rooms. As long as companies are following public health protocols such as social distancing, it seems prudent to keep more Americans earning a paycheck.
Energy projects also contribute millions of dollars to local and state governments, so allowing construction to continue will serve as a much-needed economic stimulus. For example, Pennsylvania’s Mariner East pipeline, in conjunction with the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex, is estimated to contribute between $1.4 and $2.1 million in state taxes each year. Halting construction on a project of this size when work can continue safely while following guidelines only postpones its completion and delays when the state and its residents can reap the full benefits.
Stevens concludes that although the energy sector may not come to mind when considering essential workers, the hardworking men and women of the industry are playing a key role in fueling the economy amid the pandemic:
The bottom line is that Americans will continue to have a need for energy, both during this pandemic and life beyond. A strong energy infrastructure building system must remain in place to meet those requirements. And decisions being made today will have long-term impacts on our ability to safely meet rising demand as normalcy returns.