PA Court Ruling Underscores the Importance of Energy Infrastructure

On Monday, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court dismissed a complaint filed by Pennsylvania Sen. Andrew Dinniman that attempted to challenge the construction and operation of Marine East, a pipeline currently under development in Pennsylvania. The ruling, delivered by President Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt, found that Dinniman’s claim lacked both personal and legislative standing to challenge the project.

Dinniman has long been an opponent to the project but has yet to be successful in his attempts to stop construction. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, his complaint noted:

“The pipelines are part of a system that Sunoco Pipeline is building to transport natural gas liquids, such as propane, from the Marcellus and Utica Shale regions to an export terminal in Marcus Hook, Delaware County.”

Mariner developer Sunoco Pipeline is owned by Energy Transfer Partners LP, of Dallas. Vicki Granado, Energy Transfer spokeswoman, was also quoted in the Daily Local News stating her satisfaction with the ruling:

 “We are pleased that the court has remanded this matter to the PUC to dissolve the interim emergency injunction and to dismiss this complaint. We hope the PUC acts swiftly to take care of the matter. Furthermore, we believe this ruling confirms that Senator Dinniman inappropriately used public funds to pay his legal fees for this case, which should result in him having to pay the money back to the Commonwealth. As we have always said, our focus remains on the safe construction and operation of this important infrastructure project for the state of Pennsylvania.”

GAIN applauds the Commonwealth Court for upholding the rule of law. This ruling further proves that anti-pipeline politicians and activists are acting on baseless, frivolous claims that undermine energy security and threaten the safe transportation of our reliable energy resources. Pipelines are the safest, most efficient method of delivering oil and natural gas across the country. We must work together, not against each other, to ensure sustainable energy for future generations.

Boosting energy infrastructure is mutually beneficial

Inside Sources published an opinion editorial by Albert Wynn, strategic advisor for the GAIN Coalition and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In the article, Wynn suggests that the U.S. take an unprecedented approach to how we “solve” the immigrant crisis. He suggests that violence, crime, lack of education and unreliable power grid could be contributing factors to the United States’ current influx of immigrants from Central America.

If the United States offers Honduras the expertise and know-how to develop crucial infrastructure projects across the region, it would greatly improve energy sustainability and boost local employment. Wynn elaborates:

“Reliable electricity and dependable public utilities are particularly indispensable for daily living conditions as well as educational and economic opportunities. Perhaps this is an opportunity for the United States to invest in providing these energy resources that will eventually lead to reliable public services, economic investment and incentive to remain in-country rather than seek out a better life elsewhere.”

Wynn highlights that the U.S. is a stable, energy resource-rich country with regulatory oversight and reliable infrastructure and not only is this useful domestically, but also for international exports and trade. American energy resources and private investment in the infrastructure to transport natural gas from the United States would provide economic stimulus in developing communities. He notes: 

“Boosting energy infrastructure in Honduras would generate increased investment in the country, and create jobs throughout the region. Not to mention, this infrastructure would be transporting natural gas that is used to generate electricity, light the stove, and fuel the car. With the collaboration of the public and private sector, these investments would be mutually beneficial for all nations involved.”

Sustainable energy infrastructure and access to a reliable power grid are immensely important to the daily lives of all people. GAIN applauds Wynn’s out-of-the-box approach to ensuring that all people have access to reliable energy resources.

Policymakers Should Promote Progress in Natural Gas Markets

The Dallas Morning News published an opinion editorial by Bill Godsey, owner and president of Geo Logic Environmental Services and a former geologist for the Texas Railroad Commission. In the piece, he discusses how far the U.S. has come in natural gas production and rather than “shrinking back” to the mentality held in the 1970’s, policymakers should look ahead to the progress and evolution of the natural gas market and understand the benefits it brings. He explains:

“Since the United States began shipping LNG overseas in 2016, 35 countries have received shipments, from China to South Africa. The result has been a reliable price floor that’s allowed demand to remain sufficiently high to support continued growth, while still keeping costs down for American consumers. Moody’s analysts forecast in the spring that in the absence of export markets, natural gas prices could ‘tumble.’”

Godsey highlights incoming projects like the Texas-based Port Arthur LNG and Corpus Christi LNG terminals along with the numerous export terminals under construction in Louisiana that once completed, will be critical in expanding the energy infrastructure network within the country and contribute to increasing the U.S.’s capacity for natural gas production.

As Godsey notes in the article, LNG export terminals are essential to ensuring energy security and securing U.S. energy dominance. He adds:

“Consider that exports are helping wean other countries off other fuels that are heavy emitters of carbon dioxide. And at the same time, these exports are creating American jobs, supporting manufacturing and business, and helping to keep costs low for consumers by sustaining U.S. production.”

U.S. Gas Boom is Reducing Carbon Emissions

Yesterday, the Washington Examiner published an opinion piece by Steve Everley, Texans for Natural Gas spokesman, on how the Texas-led gas boom is reducing U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. Texas has long been a leader in energy production and recently, state leaders have driven the sector toward liquefied natural gas (LNG). By 2020, Texas will be home to both the Corpus Christi and Freeport LNG terminals with three more facilities in the works. The state also hosts thousands of miles of natural gas pipeline infrastructure across the Permian Basin. Everley points out that accompanying the state’s increasing production numbers, the state’s oil boom has become a “valuable tool” in lowering emissions:

While production in the Permian Basin of West Texas and southeast New Mexico continues to soar to new heights, methane emissions relative to production are falling. According to a recent analysis, methane emissions intensity declined 57% in the Permian Basin and 24% nationwide between 2011 and 2017.

U.S. emissions are currently at a 25-year low, thanks to technological advances and surging natural gas production in Texas. As technology continues to advance, the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects energy-related emissions to continue to decrease through the end of 2019. Everley writes:

The use of clean and abundant natural gas has been the primary factor in reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. As natural gas’ share of U.S. electricity grew from 19% in 2005 to 31% in 2017, carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation declined by about 3.8 billion metric tons, a 28% drop.

To read more on how energy production is driving emissions reductions, read GAIN’s Blog titled: “Natural Gas Remains the Path Forward to Energy Security and Emissions Reductions”

Natural Gas Remains the Path Forward to Energy Security and Emissions Reductions

Real Clear Energy Editor Jude Clemente let loose the seemingly best kept secret in the energy industry in a recent article: domestic natural gas production in the U.S. is a key driver in emissions reductions.

Since 2008 the United States has undergone a strong and sustained resurgence in natural gas production. With increases of nearly 60% since 2008 the U.S. lead in natural gas production has grown to 25% above the second leading producer, Russia. Natural gas is expected to generate 40% of domestic power this year.

What is there to show for this second coming of natural gas? Exceptionally affordable (and reliable) energy for consumers including some of the lowest prices in two decades and a transition to a less carbon intensive fuel source. Natural gas emits 30% less carbon dioxide than oil and 50% less than coal thanks to production technology innovation.

Doubling down on natural gas production the U.S. can serve Americans with affordable energy and continue to lead the world in emissions reductions but with production continuing to increase an easy path forward to infrastructure development to bring the product to market is just as important as the product itself.

In April President Trump signed an executive order to “promote energy infrastructure and economic growth” that helped to lessen the redundancy in many of the permitting and review processes for infrastructure projects. Private companies should see that now is the time to invest and build the necessary wells, rigs, pipelines, and export terminals to fully realize the benefits of natural gas and domestic reserves in the Permian, Bakken, and Marcellus/Utica shale deposits.

Domestic natural gas production has put the United States in a leadership position for emissions reduction and energy production. Now is not the time to pump the brakes if energy security and emissions goals are to be achieved.

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.