New school built with Rover Pipeline funding

The 713-mile Rover Pipeline has been safely transporting natural gas for nearly two years and has generated over $1 billion in economic activity for the surrounding region. An estimated $147 million will be paid in local taxes along the route during the first year of operation and another $91 million will be directed to over 36 local school districts in Ohio.

Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools are taking advantage of this funding opportunity for the next school year. A recent article in the Times Reporter announced plans for a construction project that will be paid for in part by tax revenue from the Rover Pipeline. The school system plans to build a new facility for pre-kindergarten through twelfth graders near the existing Hillsdale High School.

Superintendent Steve Dickerson estimates the project will cost about $42 million but with the revenue boost from the pipeline, that amount can be paid of quickly without raising taxes.

Through funds generated by the pipeline, Ohioans will continue to see investments in infrastructure, education, and more. This mutually beneficial relationship between the Rover Pipeline and surrounding communities should be an inspiration to other localities near pipeline infrastructure. Not only is Rover generating tax dollars, but the pipeline itself will safely transport natural gas that can ultimately provide affordable heat and electricity for Ohio’s schools and communities.

New energy projects put Pennsylvania on a path to energy security

The Observer-Reporter published an opinion editorial by former Pennsylvania Congressman and Chester County Commissioner Earl Baker who discussed a fruitful trip to western Pennsylvania where he joined GAIN Coalition members Craig Stevens and Brigham McCown on a road tour to explore Pennsylvania’s growing energy sector and the important role of oil and natural gas infrastructure in the region.

Baker participated in a panel discussion with both GAIN Coalition members, Stevens and McCown, as well as state Sen. Camera Bartolotta. Baker noted:

“The panel discussion highlighted how the Marcellus Shale has provided Pennsylvania with vast opportunity to grow the state’s natural gas sector – leading to economic growth, lower energy costs, new jobs, and increased tax revenue.”

The group also toured CPV Fairview, a new energy facility that when completed, will have the capacity to supply energy for up to 1 million households in the area. CPV Fairview has already employed hundreds in the construction stages of the project and when it comes online in 2020, the facility will offer high-paying jobs and millions in payroll benefits. Baker went on to note that the complex will be powered by energy resources produced in Pennsylvania, writing:

“This facility uses regionally sourced natural gas and ethane to produce electricity, with the capacity to supply energy for 1 million households in the commonwealth. The power plant is an off-take of three pipelines, two for natural gas and the Mariner East Pipeline for ethane. Energy produced regionally cuts down transportation and delivery costs, reducing the total consumers must pay for electricity.”

Energy projects such as CPV Fairview are exactly the kinds of investments that will propel Pennsylvania, and more broadly the U.S., to the next level of innovation in the energy sector. Investing in reliable energy infrastructure will promote growth and security for decades to come.  Baker concluded:

“The economic and environmental benefits of Pennsylvania’s energy projects are impossible to ignore. It’s time for our elected officials at both the state and national level to prioritize further development in our critical energy infrastructure network if we want to move forward.”

President Trump Touts Energy Investment in Western Pennsylvania

This afternoon, President Trump visited the Shell ethane cracker plant in Potter Township, PA. The President delivered a speech at the multibillion- dollar complex highlighting his administration’s emphasis on expanding energy production in the U.S. and his targeted economic policies that make investments like the cracker plant possible.

The complex is nearing completion and will eventually serve as a conversion site for natural gas liquids into plastics. Like any energy project, the Shell facility must pass all requirements set by state and federal regulators to ensure the facility will operate in a safe and environmentally-conscious manner.  This investment is an economic triumph for Pennsylvania and will create nearly 600 permanent, well-paying jobs.

Energy projects around the country are flourishing thanks to the Trump Administration’s continued support for proactive energy policies. About 100 miles east of the cracker plant, the natural gas-fired Competitive Power Ventures (CVP) Fairview Energy Center in Jackson Township is expected to generate enough energy to provide power for over one million homes and businesses in Pennsylvania once complete later this year.

Due to the record natural gas production here in the U.S., Gulf states including Texas and Louisiana have experienced a surge of investment in LNG export terminals – increasing American energy exports while bolstering our national security. These multibillion- dollar investments also create a flurry of economic growth, creating high-skilled jobs and new streams of tax revenue.

After unanimous approval by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Gulf Coast Growth Ventures’ proposed ethane cracker plant will begin operations in 2022. The multibillion- dollar plant will be based outside of Corpus Christi and is expected to hire over 250 permanent employees and pay millions in taxes to the state.

GAIN applauds the Trump Administration’s commitment to prioritizing our nation’s energy infrastructure. State and federal support are critical to further investment in safe, reliable energy projects that provide economic security and energy to millions of Americans and our allies abroad.

The Real Cost of Renewable Energy

Turns out “green energy” isn’t as “green” as one might think. The Wall Street Journal recently published an opinion piece by Mark Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, spotlighting the hidden costs associated with so-called “renewable” energy generation.

Mills points out an unfortunate reality for environmental activists: “wind and solar machines and batteries are built from nonrenewable materials. And they wear out. Old equipment must be decommissioned, generating millions of tons of waste.” Mills highlights a couple of particularly thought-provoking examples:

The International Renewable Energy Agency calculates that solar goals for 2050 consistent with the Paris Accords will result in old-panel disposal constituting more than double the tonnage of all today’s global plastic waste.

A single electric-car battery weighs about 1,000 pounds. Fabricating one requires digging up, moving and processing more than 500,000 pounds of raw materials somewhere on the planet. The alternative? Use gasoline and extract one-tenth as much total tonnage to deliver the same number of vehicle-miles over the battery’s seven-year life.

Electricity generated from wind or solar requires far more materials and land use than fossil fuels. As Mills points out, “a wind or solar farm stretching to the horizon can be replaced by a handful of gas-fired turbines, each no bigger than a tractor-trailer.” He goes further, writing:

Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of nonrecyclable plastic. Solar power requires even more cement, steel and glass—not to mention other metals. Global silver and indium mining will jump 250% and 1,200% respectively over the next couple of decades to provide the materials necessary to build the number of solar panels, the International Energy Agency forecasts. World demand for rare-earth elements—which aren’t rare but are rarely mined in America—will rise 300% to 1,000% by 2050 to meet the Paris green goals. If electric vehicles replace conventional cars, demand for cobalt and lithium, will rise more than 20-fold. That doesn’t count batteries to back up wind and solar grids.

The author notes that the demand for these minerals will likely take place in nations with oppressive labor practices – such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which produces 70% of the world’s raw cobalt, and will be refined in China. Mining and fabrication also requires the consumption of hydrocarbons – including billions of tons of coal and billions of barrels of oil.

These are important facts to consider when it comes to discussions regarding our nation’s energy portfolio. Activists have adopted largely unrealistic timelines to “eliminate fossil fuels” and often overlook the realities of affordable, reliable energy generation. Given these dynamics, timely investments in our nation’s energy infrastructure – the safest, most efficient way to transport a crucial supplier of electricity in the U.S. – simply make sense. As Mills concludes:

Engineers joke about discovering “unobtanium,” a magical energy-producing element that appears out of nowhere, requires no land, weighs nothing, and emits nothing. Absent the realization of that impossible dream, hydrocarbons remain a far better alternative than today’s green dreams.

Legal Action Against Michigan Energy Infrastructure Undermines Safety

The Detroit News published an opinion editorial by GAIN strategic adviser Brigham McCown, who also served as former administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. McCown discusses the importance of energy infrastructure, particularly Michigan’s Line 5 pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.

The decades-old pipeline has been under intense scrutiny from misguided politicians and local officials – including Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel – that want the pipeline shut down altogether. McCown calls the pressure “a telling example of political dysfunction threatening our nation’s infrastructure.”

This year, Line 5 operator Enbridge Inc. announced a $500 million investment that would significantly enhance both the safety and security of the line, but the opposition persists. McCown said:

“The fallacy of those seeking to constrain infrastructure projects like Line 5 is that opposing new infrastructure projects will actually make us less safe while simultaneously raising energy prices for consumers, because these products will still find a way to market, except finding a way to market means being transported less safely and more expensively, a basic misunderstanding that needs to be corrected.”

As the GAIN Coalition has highlighted previously, opponents seeking last-minute legal challenges to pipeline infrastructure undermine the regulatory process that new projects successfully navigate. New pipelines and supplementary construction to existing pipelines are subject to regulatory scrutiny to evaluate the safety of the pipeline and ensure proper operation. Lawsuits against pipeline infrastructure threaten energy security and access to products like propane and gasoline.

Marcellus Natural Gas Is Powering the U.S.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported today the United States has set a new daily record high for natural gas use in the power sector. The EIA describes this increased usage in the summer months:

Higher electricity demand for air conditioning during a heat wave from July 15 through July 22 drove the increased power generation, especially from natural gas-fired generators. Although the highest temperatures occurred during the weekend, most states east of the Rocky Mountains experienced warmer-than-normal weather in the days leading up to the heat wave. From July 16 through July 21, the average maximum temperature exceeded 85°F in most parts of the country.

Natural gas is rapidly becoming the largest, most reliable and most affordable source of electricity generation for the U.S. Natural gas produced more than 35% of the country’s electricity in 2018. The EIA also reported late last year that carbon emissions from the power sector have declined 28% since 2005 – largely due to the increased use of natural gas for power generation.

EIA notes that “the substitution of natural gas for other fossil fuels has largely been market driven, as ample supplies of lower-priced natural gas and the relative ease of adding natural gas-fired capacity have allowed it to pick up share in electric power generation in many markets.” Increased investments in new and existing natural gas pipelines – such as the Rover, Nexus, and Atlantic Sunrise pipelines – have helped make this development possible by safely and efficiently moving Marcellus Basin natural gas to consumers and other end users.

GAIN Experts Visit PA Natural Gas-Powered Electrical Plant

Last week, experts from the GAIN Coalition participated in a tour of the Competitive Power Ventures (CVP) Fairview Energy Center in Jackson Township, Pennsylvania. The tour was the last stop on a GAIN tour throughout western Pennsylvania, recognizing the state’s thriving energy industry and role as the second-highest natural gas producer in the country.

The CPV Energy Center, which is currently under construction, is expected to generate 1,050 megawatts of electricity, which will provide power for over one million homes and businesses in Pennsylvania. The natural gas fueled electric generation facility uses the most advanced technology to ensure that the energy is produced in a reliable, cost-effective manner, and is environmentally responsible with low emissions generation. The advanced tech comes from a partnership with General Electric, which has deployed technology that is 2-3 times more efficient than previous models.

In addition to regionally sourced natural gas, the facility also utilizes ethane as a secondary fuel source – which will be provided via an offtake from the Mariner East pipeline system. Study after study has proven that pipelines are the safest and most efficient method of transportation of energy resources to end markets. Coming online by 2020, the reliable electricity this facility pairs well with electricity generated from power sources like wind and solar – which are less reliable, but help lower emissions as well. Having a facility backed by natural gas and ethane ensures that Pennsylvania customers won’t lose access to their power when wind or solar cuts out.

The GAIN members’ tour was led by Jeff Ahrens, the project manager for CPV, who has been working on developing power plants for nearly three decades. An article and video in the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat highlighted the tour:

“We call it free energy,” Ahrens said. “That’s where the efficiency comes from. The first gas turbines are high efficiency, and that’s about 40%. But with free energy, it runs through the steam turbine. Those two combined end up with a result of more than 60% efficiency.

“A typical coal plant would probably just have an efficiency between 30 and 40%.”

According to Ahrens, the plant puts out 50% less emissions than other forms of energy. Additionally, the plant has created hundreds of jobs, with over 1.8 million hours of union labor logged already. He emphasized that the project is already 85% complete and ahead of schedule, expecting power generation to start in September and for construction to be finished before Christmas.

Overall, GAIN got a firsthand look at the benefits that natural gas has to offer; in the forms of jobs, and efficient, reliable electricity for hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses. It’s crucial to showcase projects like these, and to illustrate all the good that natural gas development can bring.

“It’s primarily seeing how Pennsylvania has really come back,” he (Ahrens) said, noting much of the state’s resurgence can be tied to expansion of energy industries, including the Marcellus shale natural gas production.

GAIN Spokesman Craig Stevens also pointed to the economic impact of natural gas, as seen at CPV Fairview.

“The 1970s to 1990s were tough on the economy here,” Stevens said. “To see this kind of development here is really a testament to the turnaround this area has seen.”

Read more about the tour here.

Illegal Protest Activity Around Pipeline Puts Everyone In Danger

The Roanoke Times published an opinion editorial by James “Spider” Marks, a strategic advisor to the GAIN Coalition and retired U.S. Army major general highlighting recent pipeline protests on the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a $4.6 billion project that will transport natural gas from northwestern West Virginia to consumers in southern Virginia.

Protesters have grown out of control with their efforts to oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline, setting fire to equipment, chaining themselves to excavators and even assaulting pipeline workers. These unlawful tactics put pipeline workers, law enforcement, and community members at risk. Marks wrote:

“Activists may disagree about the importance of natural gas production and reliable energy infrastructure to transport fuels to American consumers in need, but breaking the law and putting innocent people at risk are not reasonable courses of action. Federal, state, and local regulators carefully review pipeline proposals before granting permits. These regulators welcome public input and concerns during a designated public comment period. Vigilante regulation is not a sustainable, or legal, option.”

Pipelines are the safest way to transport the oil and natural gas to American consumers. Natural gas is responsible for generating more than 35% of the United States’ electricity. But environmentalists around the country are protesting much-needed energy infrastructure projects without understanding how critical these projects are to meeting our nation’s energy needs. Marks noted:

“The activists protesting pipelines like Mountain Valley unrealistically contend that wind and solar will be able to replace sources like natural gas within the next decade, despite their current role of only producing little more than 8% of our electricity needs. Their environmental concerns fall flat when you consider that natural gas has served as a crucial bridge-fuel replacing less environmentally-friendly sources and helped lower carbon emissions from the U.S. power sector by nearly 30% since 2005.”

The GAIN Coalition encourages protesters to keep demonstrations peaceful and within the parameters of the law. Moving forward, it is important that our elected officials denounce illegal protest tactics that put innocent bystanders in danger. The GAIN Coalition looks forward to the safe, timely completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and its role in delivering natural gas to consumers in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Keystone XL Pipeline Lawsuit: Another Attempt to Undermine Innovation and Progress

Today, the Great Falls Tribune published an opinion editorial by former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commander Tom Magness on a frivolous courtroom play by seven environmental groups who filed a lawsuit to block construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As Magness notes, this latest challenge “follows a lengthy pattern of obstructionism that undermines the regulatory process, our courts and, ultimately, our nation’s energy security.”

The lawsuit alleges the permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was too broad and didn’t effectively assess the unique conditions of the project.

In response to this assumption, Magness said:

“That’s simply not true. In fact, the allegation disregards the purpose of the Army Corps’ longstanding policy to effectively and efficiently consider major infrastructure projects and simultaneously account for distinct project-based circumstances. The Nationwide Permit 12 – issued under the Clean Water Act – is intended to streamline the regulatory process by first ascertaining if a project meets broad-stroke requirements, and then conducting a methodical review of special considerations.”

Despite what these environmental groups allege, the Corps permitted the Keystone XL Pipeline after conducting thorough research and full consideration of the project’s environmental impacts. Magness notes in the article that the permit will not be the last “checkpoint” for the pipeline:

“It bears noting, too, that the Keystone XL Pipeline has been reviewed multiple times as a result of starts and stops to its construction. In fact, Keystone submitted its initial application for the project in 2008. The U.S. Department of State issued its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the project as far back as January 2014 – and concluded that the project’s construction and operation could be safely achieved.”

This lawsuit is yet another attempt by environmentalists and activist groups to hinder construction of necessary energy infrastructure. The same delay tactics were deployed during construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline and they were wildly unsuccessful. In fact, protests left North Dakota taxpayers with nearly a $40 million bill to cover law enforcement and other protest-related costs. Nonpartisan regulatory agencies filled with dedicated career-professionals like the Army Corps work hard to ensure the safety and reliability of infrastructure across the country. Extraneous lawsuits like this latest challenge hinder innovation and progress at taxpayer’s expense.

Second Wave of LNG Projects May Have New Construction Tactics

The Houston Chronicle reported that the “second wave” of LNG projects is finally here. In the last year, there has been a flood of approvals for new energy projects in the U.S. and abroad. These projects will break ground in the coming months, while construction on the first wave of LNG facilities nears completion. Some of the new projects include the $10 billion Golden Pass LNG export terminal in Texas, and the Mozambique LNG project in southeast Africa.

The next LNG project boom will bring jobs for engineers, procurement and construction contractors and bring billions in capital expenditure. As additional LNG facilities are approved and the existing projects are reaching peak production numbers, it is crucial that the U.S. continue to build pipeline infrastructure to maintain the flow of product to market.

According to the Houston Chronicle:

“James West, an analyst with the investment banking advisory firm Evercore ISI estimated that nearly two-thirds of the costs of building an LNG plant come from construction and equipment, providing business opportunities for oilfield services companies.”

While the first wave of projects were known for delays in construction and cost overruns, analysts warn against this for the upcoming developments. The cost to build a facility is undoubtedly burdensome, but West believes that two companies are on the right track offering solutions to avoid the hefty upfront costs. Baker Hughes of Houston TechnipFMC and Chart Industries of Georgia are building modular, emissions-reducing turbines that can be shipped to LNG plants and easily connected to existing equipment. Their modular shape allows them to ship easier and be assembled in harsh environments.

Innovation and forward thinking are the pillars to successful projects and as LNG exports and oil and gas production continue to evolve, we must maintain the energy infrastructure to move the products to market and to communities across the nation.