Union Leader: Pipelines Are “Asset to Region”

Private investment in U.S. energy infrastructure can create more than 1 million new American jobs by 2035, according to an ICF report released this week. The study, conducted for the American Petroleum Institute, finds that natural gas development will continue to drive significant energy infrastructure investments – and related jobs – for a “prolonged period of time,” as more infrastructure is needed to connect consumers, manufacturers, and power generators with our abundant and affordable supply.

Key Report Takeaways:

  • “A robust environment for oil and gas infrastructure development has not yet run its course and is likely to continue for many years, with total investment in oil and gas infrastructure ranging from $1.06 trillion to $1.34 trillion from 2017 through 2035.
  • Investment in infrastructure contributes $1.50 trillion to $1.89 trillion to U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the projection period, or between $79 billion and $100 billion annually.”
  • “Infrastructure development will employ an average of 828,000 to 1,047,000 individuals annually in the U.S. Significant jobs are created not only within states where infrastructure development occurs, but across ALL states because of indirect and induced labor impacts. Oil and gas infrastructure development has far-reaching benefits across the entire U.S. economy.

The authors conclude that these projects will result in “significant job” creation for states where infrastructure development occurs, including thousands of direct jobs that often require talented and highly skilled labor union members. To ensure our region has the skilled labor to meet the growing infrastructure demand, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) has invested more than $100 million to “train more than 150,000 workers in pipeline safety and construction,” one of the union’s Pennsylvania leaders wrote in a recent letter to the Citizens’ Voice in Wilkes-Barre.

In fact, the union writes that energy infrastructure projects, like the PennEast pipeline, will “not only benefit workers and their families but entire communities and regions.”

While expanding and modernizing Pennsylvania’s energy infrastructure provides one key to realizing the full benefits of our energy revolution, politicians need to act to ensure the Commonwealth competes and wins for job-creating capital investment. As the leader of a Wilkes-Barre engineering firm told lawmakers this week, higher energy taxes and more layers of unnecessary bureaucratic red tape are not the right policies needed to enhance Pennsylvania’s competitiveness and move the Commonwealth forward.

My goal is to grow opportunity for our company and our employees. Raising taxes on the industry that provides that opportunity in a state already largely viewed as uncompetitive is not the way to do it,” Frank Joanlanne, president of Wilkes-Barre-based Borton Lawson said. “It is a threat to all of the businesses working directly and indirectly for the oil and gas industry.

Here’s what they’re saying:

  • Union Leader: Energy Infrastructure Projects “Benefit Workers and Their Families”: LiUNA fully supports the FERC’s conclusion that the PennEast Pipeline project can be built with “less than significant” environmental impact. … In its Final Environmental Impact, FERC confirmed that PennEast can be built safely by a trained, skilled and experienced workforce that takes accountability very seriously. Nationwide, LiUNA has invested more than $100 million to train more than 150,000 workers in pipeline safety and construction. This training ensures that our workers are the best available for such critical work. … LiUNA workers, many of whom live in the PennEast footprint, are strongly committed to the safe and responsible construction of the PennEast Pipeline and look forward to helping the region’s families and businesses enjoy lower energy costs and greater energy reliability. … We look forward to working on this pipeline project which will not only benefit workers and their families but entire communities and regions. (Citizens-Voice letter, 4/19/17)
  • Energy Infrastructure Connects Consumers, Families with Abundant Gas Supply: MSC’s David Spigelmyer said signs are pointing to a slight upsurge in the industry. “Demand for natural gas is high now,” he said. “We had some recovery in prices.” … “There’s some return now,” he said. “We are back to 33 rigs in the state.” … The industry has been in a kind of holding pattern as pipelines needed to bring the gas to markets are being built. “As we get more gas to market, that will be an enticement to drill more,” he said. Spigelmyer noted that the impact fee paid by drillers has meant significant revenues for counties where the industry is located. From 2011 to 2015, the combined revenues from impact fees for Lycoming County and its municipalities was more than $55 million, according to figures. (Sun-Gazette, 4/30/17)
  • Local Natural Gas to help “Tunkhannock Area High School With its Energy Costs”: The Wyoming Co. Chamber of Commerce President Gina Suydam noted that although Wyoming Co. is a natural gas producing county, thanks to the Marcellus shale, “Much of the natural gas produced is being shipped out of the county instead of being utilized where it is produced.” Suydam said the Chamber has taken a leadership role in trying to “fix” that, and has discovered that one of the most significant hurdles is how to utilize the locally produced gas right in the community of Tunkhannock. She said she was certain that homes, businesses, the county courthouse, and the Tunkhannock Area School District would benefit greatly from using natural gas to minimize their energy costs; however, the cost of extending natural gas to a rural community is significant. … Suydam said, “Extending natural gas will enhance economic development as it will lower energy costs of its users and will assist Tunkhannock Area High School with its energy costs.” The program calls for the installation of 18,000 feet of 8” high density pipe, and when completed would extend natural gas to developable properties in Tunkhannock, 13 current businesses, the Tunkhannock Area School District and the county courthouse. A secondary goal of the project is extending natural gas to homes along the route. (Wyoming Co. Examiner, 5/3/17)
  • “Why it’s a Critical — And Ideal — Time to Upgrade America’s Energy Infrastructure”: Our nation’s aging infrastructure is in significant need of investment and care if we want to ensure a secure future for coming generations. … When Congress takes up this issue, we must all work together to advocate for policies and investments that position our country for continued growth, energy independence and national security. Technological advancements in our industry have enabled access to a wealth of previously inaccessible natural resources, both in the United States and globally. … Today, the U.S. is not only the leading natural gas consumer, we’re also the top producer in the world. … The nation has reached a critical time to invest in its aging energy infrastructure — and the overall lower prices, combined with increased demand, make this an ideal time to do so, as well. Lower energy bills are part of what attracts both customers and regulators to look more favorably at the prospects of infrastructure investment. …. This is all happening at a time when, due to the low cost of natural gas, our customers’ natural gas bills are roughly 35 percent lower than 10 years ago. We are also working to bring natural gas to more areas to meet the energy demands of our region. … Natural gas availability increases energy reliability and spurs economic development by promoting and attracting growth of commercial, institutional and residential customers. (Washington Examiner op-ed, 5/1/17)

Visit the MSC’s blog to learn more and join the conversation on social media by using #NatGasWorks.

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