That’s not what I say. Rather, it’s what a recent headline said, taken from a recent Bloomberg story that other news outlets, including The Washington Post, picked up.
It listed a large handful of jaw-dropping statistics, such as how data crunched by Bloomberg revealed that the average time to secure federal approval since the start of 2015 is up by 60 days, and that for many proposed pipeline projects, the actual wait time is far longer. One developer, for instance, has been waiting more than 600 days just to build a seven-mile long natural gas pipeline.
More infamously, the Obama administration wasted at least $175 billion in economic activity over a seven-year span by kicking the can down the road on the 1,179-mile long, cross-border Keystone XL Pipeline, only to deny a permit for its construction.
In 2013, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research did some digging into the reliability of pipelines—which remain the most-common mode of transportation for crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas. They did this by analyzing data provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Their findings, needless to say, didn’t back what the naysayers claimed. In fact, it showed that transporting energy via pipelines results in lower injury and fatality rates than other forms of transporting energy. The same goes for environmental-related incidents such as spills and leaks.
Which will be the way that more and more energy will be transported if the president and the small but extremely vocal minority of anti-fossil fuel advocates he listens to have their way?
This, naturally, begs the question: If their primary concern is safeguarding the environment, then why all the fuss about pipelines? If pipelines are the safest of options, then why are anti-pipeline activists all against it instead of all for it?
This is not about how dependable alternatives, like rail and road, are; and about how families and small businesses can benefit from low-cost, reliable energy. This is not about the many pros and few cons that pipelines have to offer. It’s about strengthening this misguided “Keep it in the Ground” effort and its full-throated continuation of anti-fossil energy efforts on public and private lands, regardless of any safety or regulatory stringency. It’s about linking climate change rhetoric with anti-fossil fuels efforts, however inaccurate. And it’s about killing any and all projects connected to fossil energy— you name it, pipelines, processing plants, oil and gas exploration, export terminals, electricity generation—despite of our energy needs.
Regardless of the monumentally negative impact their ideas would have on the U.S. economy —and regardless of the fact that they offer zero solutions to meeting our energy needs without fossil energy.
A recent study by IHS Economic, commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers, says that with manufacturing and power generation serving as key drivers, total natural gas demand is poised to increase 40% over the next decade. U.S. supply, meanwhile, is expected to swell about 48% over the next decade to meet this new demand. This means that the urgency to build more energy infrastructure to gather, transport, store and export cleaner-burning natural gas has never been greater.
The Northeast, in particular New England, knows that all too well.
New England is more dependent than ever on clean natural gas for electricity generation. As more coal and nuclear plants go offline, this dependency will only intensify. But so, too, will their need for more natural gas supply to provide much-needed cost relief. Expanding New England’s pipeline system would certainly help do the trick. It would also help alleviate bottlenecks, reduce price volatility, and help get more natural gas to power plants on the coldest winter days. Unfortunately, this is also an area where opposition to pipelines and getting more energy from the Marcellus Shale Formation is among the strongest, even as polls show that an overwhelming majority of local voters support the use of natural gas for electricity generation and the construction of natural gas infrastructure like the Access Northeast project.
Elsewhere, in portions of the country that better support pipeline development, Americans have benefited radically from the low cost savings associated with natural gas development and infrastructure.
According to one study, the average cost of living for most Americans has reduced nearly $750 per year since 2008. Another report, meanwhile, says that natural gas production contributed $156 billion to real disposable income in 2015—meaning the average family received an extra $1,337 in disposable income. It now costs less to drive our cars, warm our homes, consume our food and beverages, and power our smartphones and other energy-intensive electronics. It’s also easier to better provide for our families.
This can be New England. This can be all of us.
But despite our enormous resource base and technical prowess, and it vast array of associated economic and environmental benefits, the industry remains under constant attack from some in our government responding directly to the anti-development messages, evidenced by a major political party’s recent decision to reportedly strike its “all-of-the-above” energy commitment from its platform.
The about-turn, fueled by political red tape and redundant bureaucratic hindrances, followed a series of anti-fossil fuel developments, like the Obama administration axing plans for energy exploration in most offshore regions of the U.S., like the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. Meanwhile, the few offshore territories that remain open for business, like the Gulf of Mexico, could be next in line if anti-fossil fuel NGOs have their way.
Other developments include statewide fracking bans in Maryland and New York, and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and National Petroleum Reserve Planning Area—the latter of which was set aside specifically for energy development.
Now, many of our needed pipeline infrastructure projects, including the Constitution and Bluegrass pipelines, have been shelved, with many others hanging in limbo. In all, more than a dozen fossil-fuel projects worth somewhere in the vicinity of $33 billion have been “shelved or significantly delayed” because of escalating regulations spearheaded by this movement, The Wall Street Journal reported.
As I’ve said before, this is scary stuff for an industry already battered and bruised by low, fluctuating oil prices. The “Keep It in the Ground” movement threatens our economy, jobs, consumers’ wallets, national security and, ironic to its cause, the environment. It jeopardizes the oil and gas industry’s incredible run of safely producing energy while helping our environment. It threatens to cause permanent damage to an already anemic economy.
The PR Battle
We are losing a PR battle that science, math and common sense say we should be winning.
That’s why the time is now for Americans everywhere to rally and acknowledge industry’s economic and environmental prowess.
Households and small business should hear the facts; not the rhetoric proffered by a vocal few. Show them all the jobs that pipelines have historically created, all the schools they’ve funded and all the teachers, firefighters, police officers and emergency personnel they’ve helped hire.
Let all the local residents and leaders know how much extra money they’ve saved – and how much their neighbors and communities have saved—during America’s energy renaissance, and how, with an all-of-the-above energy policy that showcases safe, reliable pipelines, they can all save even more.
Share our stories of job creation and carbon emission deletions, and how better-quality technologies and techniques make getting more pipelines built an advantage— economically and environmentally.
Do what our opponents aren’t doing and tell the truth.
That’s certainly what we at Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) are doing, via our newly launched Campaign for America’s Energy.
And for the sake of America’s economy and environment, and the oil and gas industry that pillars it, it’s what we should all do.
Jack Belcher is Executive Vice President, Consumer Energy Alliance.