The Roanoke Times published an opinion editorial highlighting the critical role pipelines play in allowing successful energy growth in the U.S. The author, Dan Eberhart, CEO of independent oilfield services company Canary, calls upon environmental activists to consider how pipelines meet energy demands amid setbacks in the industry. Eberhart sheds light on the outrageous number of recent setbacks in the energy infrastructure space – explaining they are no cause for celebration:
“Recently, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy abandoned the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court’s order halting work on the Keystone XL pipeline. In addition, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reinstated the Dakota Access pipeline’s permission to operate but its future is as murky as ever. All three projects have been the subjects of endless litigation over permitting issues. In the case of the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the repeated legal challenges by environmental organizations caused the project’s cost to balloon from $5 billion to $8 billion.”
Seemingly never-ending legal challenges are taking a toll on developers and taking years to get projects moving. With the economy beginning to slowly pick up from the downturn caused by COVID-19, we must ensure oil and gas infrastructure projects are moving forward. Eberhart explains that oil and gas infrastructure remains a critical component of American energy success:
As long as people need oil and gas to travel, heat their homes and businesses, and fuel industrial production, companies will supply it while also adhering to an efficient, transparent, and predictable environmental review process. Unfortunately, the current system sabotages honest deliberations about the potential environmental impacts of a project by rewarding public relations campaigns.
It is also worth noting that many pipelines carry affordable and clean natural gas which has helped reduce emissions and keep costs down for American consumers. Eberhart points out that the U.S. is leading the world in reducing carbon emissions – and a study from ICF points out that if China, India, and Germany all switched to using U.S. LNG instead of coal, they could reduce their carbon emissions by more than 50%.
In addition to reducing emissions, pipeline projects are key to supporting jobs for thousands of skilled American tradespeople. The Dakota Access Pipeline, which is currently experiencing legal challenges, is one example of a project that provides jobs for many:
“Finally, the activists celebrating continue to overlook the reality that thousands of Americans make their living building and maintaining the nation’s pipelines. They take pride in their skill and the attention to safety and environmental protection that they carry out every day. As the head of the Laborers’ International Union of North America noted, halting the Dakota Access project “ignores the high standards and reputation for quality of the more than 8,000 skilled building tradesmen and women” involved in its construction. The local and state tax revenues generated by the pipeline are helping countless communities with everything from public schools to public safety — funds that will no longer be available to communities already struggling with lost revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Environmental activists should not be quick to push against pipeline projects without considering all of the benefits they provide, and the industry’s widespread economic impact. Without the help of crucial infrastructure projects, American energy independence and access to reliable, affordable natural gas and oil is at risk.