Infrastructure Investment Can Bolster Post-COVID Economy

NBC News reported the latest weekly jobless claims soared to 965,000 last week as the nation continues to struggle with the coronavirus-induced economic downturn. NBC writes:

Ten months into the pandemic, the U.S. economy still has around 10 million jobs to recover, the unemployment rate remains at 6.7 percent and almost 19 million Americans are still claiming some form of unemployment benefit.

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to deliver remarks today about his administration’s economic rescue package, which will focus on immediate pandemic “rescue” efforts and broader “recovery” measures like healthcare and infrastructure. Experts say infrastructure could play a big role in our nation’s economic recovery:

“A large-scale infrastructure bill would broaden the economy,” and improve the situation for those demographics who have shouldered the greatest burden during the coronavirus pandemic, said Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager.

Shovel-ready large-scale infrastructure – from transportation projects like roads, bridges, and airports to communications infrastructure to power and energy infrastructure like pipelines, export terminals, and power plants – can play a key role in putting Americans back to work, ushering in new streams of tax revenue for states and local municipalities, and creating new economic opportunities for their communities.

Now more than ever, it is important that policymakers and regulators ensure a straightforward regulatory process for these projects so much-needed investment can move forward.

Statement from the GAIN Coalition Spox on “pre-traumatic stress disorder’ and ‘potential indirect impacts’

“This week the infrastructure industry has been faced with two unknowable, unquantifiable garbles of jargon that threaten to diminish our energy policy debate into a theatre of the absurd.  ‘Pre-traumatic stress disorder’ and ‘potential indirect impacts’ have entered the lexicon of individuals and groups who are seeking to curtail the development of North America’s natural resources.  What is even more stunning than their mere use in the public discourse is level of seriousness with which they are being given.  The U.S. and its neighbors need millions of barrels of fossil fuels per day to meet the energy and transportation needs of our shared economy.  By attempting to shut down or thwart the development of pipelines as a means of transporting these critical fuels, energy opponents are forcing North Americans to get their fuel from foreign countries, via less environmentally sensitive means, at higher costs, and without the added benefit of employing North American workers.  Policymakers and others should give these naysayers their reasonable due, which is nil.”

Common Sense Regulation Is Key To Infrastructure Improvements

As the discussion about infrastructure heats up in Washington, we need to make sure that we’re focused on the proper issues. We can’t just focus on a dollar amount for investment. That is, it is not sufficient to throw money at our infrastructure issues. Funding is important, but we need a focus on rewriting regulations and to make sure that industries are able to properly invest in their own infrastructure.

Take the freight rail industry, for example. The 1980s saw the removal of red tape that had hindered the industry for decades. This regulatory reform made it far easier for the freight rail industry to invest in their infrastructure. In fact, since then they have privately poured more than $630 billion into improving America’s railway system. This has allowed the rail industry to become competitive with other means of transport, and led to the creation of the safest railway system in the world.

The success of the rail industry over the past 40 years should be used as an example for Congress of how a common-sense approach to regulations can help America’s crumbling infrastructure. While increased funding is vital and necessary, it needs to be coupled with a change to the regulatory process that incentivizes private investments. Putting more funding into the same system would be a failure to fully capitalize on this important opportunity.

The GAIN coalition has been excited in recent months as the poor state of America’s infrastructure has been discussed more and more. We are incredibly excited for President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, as well as the recent steps taken to simplify the permitting process for new projects.  These are tremendous and encouraging first steps, and the GAIN coalition hopes they are the first of many to come.

Natural Gas Benefits All 50 States

One would assume that the benefits of natural gas production are concentrated in the states rich in the natural resource, such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, or West Virginia.  These states sit on top of the Marcellus or Utica shales.  It’s true that these states have benefited greatly, but according to a recent study from the American Petroleum Institute (API), the rest of the country has reaped the benefits as well.

According to a study that the API released on June 27, all 50 states benefit from natural gas produced domestically, including non-producing states.  The study looks at a number of different ways that all Americans benefit from natural gas, from the 4 million jobs created to billions in consumer savings.  This is not a localized gain, it’s something that every American enjoys. And it wouldn’t be possible without the construction of proper energy infrastructure

“From power generation for homes and businesses that benefit from affordable and reliable electricity, to the industry’s skilled workforce that produces natural gas, to pipelines and the workers who build them, the advantages of natural gas are wide-ranging,” said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. “With energy week in full swing, this study is another example of the job and consumer benefits of natural gas across the country.”

These gains are only increasing.  It is estimated that $100 billion will be saved through the use of natural gas by the year 2040 – that’s $655 per household.  By that same year another 2 million jobs are expected to be created as well.  If we continue to support the creation of natural gas infrastructure they will only grow, saving more money and creating more jobs.  Natural gas aids every single state, and helps all Americans.  The GAIN coalition believes in the importance of expanding infrastructure that helps us better utilize our abundant natural resources—and this latest data on natural gas shows that energy infrastructure is something everyone in this country can benefit from.