The Hill published an opinion editorial by Professor Bernard Weinstein, associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute and adjunct professor of business economics at Southern Methodist University, highlighting the vital role pipelines play in facilitating successful energy development in the United States, and how they can help boost the nation’s economy post-COVID. However, Weinstein points out that constant regulatory hurdles and pipeline antagonists continue to get in the way of growth for infrastructure projects – hampering critical economic growth. Weinstein explains the numerous setbacks for pipelines this past year:
“Unfortunately, many environmental organizations and other groups opposed to fossil fuels are pushing back against these investments, especially in the case of pipelines. Lawsuits against both operating and proposed pipelines have multiplied, and anti-carbon activists are pressuring pension funds, university endowments, and foundations to “divest” their portfolios of companies engaged in the production and transportation of oil and gas.”
Not only are pipelines facing setbacks from regulatory agencies, but environmental activists are pushing lawsuits and divestment from pipeline projects. Infrastructure projects are being shut down while opposition neglect to consider the bigger picture. Some states are very firm in their stances against pipeline projects, such as New York:
“In New York State, it is virtually impossible to build a transmission pipeline. For example, after an eight-year battle, the proposed Constitution Pipeline that would have delivered cheap natural gas from the Marcellus to the New York City gateway was canceled early this year. New York also rejected the proposed Williams Pipeline that would have carried natural gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey, running beneath New York Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean before connecting to an existing pipeline system off Long Island.”
There are unfortunate consequences for consumers on the other side of the coin. According to a 2017 study from the Consumer Energy Alliance, New England residents pay, on average, 151% more than the national average for electricity. Massachusetts relies on imported fossil fuels that jack price on energy for residents – a problem that could be easily solved with the entrance of pipelines to the area. Continuous setbacks of infrastructure development not only inconvenience hardworking Americans from higher energy bills, but also cut jobs from workers in the oil and gas industry. Weinstein explains how holdups of these projects negatively impact the economy in a recent study:
“A recent study by the Consumer Energy Alliance has documented more than $13.6 billion of “shovel ready” projects that are bottled up in litigation, permit delays, and other forms of push-back by environmentalists. About 66,000 jobs paying an average of $117,000 are at risk, and state and local governments face the prospect of losing more than $280 million in annual revenue while already suffering huge shortfalls because of the pandemic. Spending on pipeline construction also can have a large multiplier effect by spurring demand in manufacturing and other industrial sectors in the energy supply chain.”
With record-breaking unemployment rates amid COVID-19, our nation has limited wiggle room to dismiss economic activity. Setbacks for projects like Keystone XL and Dakota Access and the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline cut jobs for workers and deprive municipalities and states of crucial tax dollars. Anti-energy rhetoric, legal challenges, and regulatory hurdles are threatening American energy independence and our energy future – now is the time to welcome investment in our critical energy infrastructure.