The Necessity of Building Natural Gas Pipelines

It is no secret that the Biden administration seeks to transition our energy consumption and electrical grid to renewable energy technology. Provisions in key congressional bills, such as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), earmarked subsidies for green energy technology, such as electric vehicles and solar and wind farms. However, these investments and technologies will take years to come to fruition, and energy sources like wind and solar will always need baseload forms of power. While many environmentalists point to battery storage to offset their intermittency, the technology is not economically feasible yet. Instead, states across the country should look to build natural gas infrastructure, such as pipelines, so that our energy security does not falter during Biden’s “transition.”

For many states across the country, energy consumption comes in different forms. For example, natural gas accounts for 40.8 percent of Texas’ electrical grid’s energy consumption, with renewable energy accounting for 25.2 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). On the other hand, North Carolina’s electric power sector consumes less natural gas and renewable energy—31.3 percent and 13.1 percent respectively. This is notable because coal accounts for 17.1 percent of North Carolina’s electrical power sector consumption.

Over the last decade, the U.S. has made significant strides to reduce emissions by shifting from coal usage to natural gas. For a state like North Carolina, cleaner natural gas could strengthen the grid and lower the state’s emissions while renewable technologies proliferate and decrease in cost. One problem? North Carolina, like many states, lacks the infrastructure capacity to transport key fuels to their destination. That is why the recent Mountain Valley Pipeline saga is so important, as the 75-mile extension would carry natural gas through the western part of the state. The only other interstate pipeline is currently at capacity. Stalling, blocking, or attempting to kill key energy projects such as pipelines not only decreases the potential energy supply, but also contradicts attempts to lower carbon emissions, as illustrated by a state like North Carolina’s reliance on coal.

The administration should prioritize building more pipeline infrastructure to get our abundant resources to markets that rely on dirtier sources of fuel for their energy. Attempting to jump straight from a source like coal to renewables that are more expensive, lack baseload power and widespread viability, will fracture our nation’s energy security region-by-region. Natural gas is the answer.  

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