Study: Opposition to Pipelines Costs Jobs, Needed Infrastructure

September 9, 2020 Updated: September 17, 2020

Nearly $14 billion of investment in delayed pipeline projects in 14 states—including five “battleground” contests in the 2020 presidential election—could create more than 66,000 new jobs and boost the nation’s post-CCP virus economic recovery, according to a new study.

The delayed projects face environmental, judicial, and bureaucratic obstacles based on safety concerns and opposition to continued use of fossil fuels.

Pipelines provide the essential energy infrastructure required to move crude oil and natural gas supplies to refineries and ultimately to consumers.

Most notable among blocked projects is the Keystone XL pipeline, to bring crude oil from Canada’s oil-rich tar sands to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, first announced more than a decade ago.

The study, made public on Sept. 9 by the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), an industry-funded nonprofit advocacy group, said opponents are denying consumers billions of dollars in benefits while imposing unnecessary costs, including these:

  • Opposition to projects in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania risks more than $3.5 billion in economic activity, as well as more than 17,000 mostly union jobs and nearly $52 million in annual state tax revenue. The analysis concluded that the Northeast Supply Enhancement project alone would reduce residential energy bills by 65 percent and avoided the equivalent of 500,000 automotive carbon emissions.
  • Total potential economic damage of more than $10.2 billion in lost energy savings and jobs are at stake with projects in Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina.
  • Economic losses totaling $5.4 billion will result from blocking the Line 5 Tunnel Project in southeast Michigan and Ohio.
  • Opposition to Minnesota’s Line 3 Replacement Project puts in doubt $35 million in new annual state tax revenue, as well as $162 million in local construction projects and an estimated 8,600 new jobs.
  • Shutting down the Dakota Access Pipeline risks adding $1 billion or more to farm costs due to skyrocketing rail car prices and higher gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel expenses in the Upper Midwest states.
  • At least $3.4 billion in investment, including 10,400 jobs and $55 million in annual state tax revenues, will result from stopping the planned Keystone XL expansion project for Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

Surveys show the race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden tightening significantly in battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin where pipeline projects cited by the CEA study would have significant economic impact.

Chris Ventura, CEA’s Midwest director, told The Epoch Times on Sept. 9 that concerns about pipeline safety aren’t based on real-life experience.

“Looking at the statistics the U.S. government publishes when looking at modes of transporting, whether it be oil or natural gas or natural gas liquids, the pipeline safety record is 99.999 percent,” Ventura said.

“What goes into the pipeline typically comes out the other end without incident. It’s a tremendous safety record, and when you think of how much capacity pipelines have, compared to rail cars or tanker trucks, pipelines are much more environmentally friendly.”

Opponents of pipeline projects “do not want to see fossil fuel consumed anywhere or its use expanded by any means,” Ventura said. He noted, for example, that such environmentalists oppose adding additional anchors to an existing pipeline on the Great Lakes lakebed with no leaks.

The study noted that jobs created by the delayed pipeline projects tend to be high-paying positions that generate positive economic returns throughout communities without requiring the use of tax funds.

“The average yearly income for a salaried worker in late 2019 was roughly $48,672. In 2019, the median wage for the oil, gas, and utility sector was $117,000 or nearly $40,000 more than the average wage for Americans with advanced degrees,” the study stated.

“According to the Association of Oil Pipe-Lines, one major pipeline construction project will employ 7,000 construction workers and generate $400 million in salary and benefits that can help put kids through college and give families a better quality of life.

“The group notes that more than 500 workers are needed to construct each 100-mile section of pipeline, which also require pumping stations to be constructed every 50 miles. A myriad of workers including heavy equipment operators, laborers, welders, Teamsters, foremen, engineers, safety inspectors and support staff are needed for each job.”

“We’d be foolish to push these immediate injections of private capital aside, because it will slow our economic recovery at the expense of countless families and businesses who are just trying to get back on their feet again,” CEA President David Holt said in a statement provided to The Epoch Times.

“These projects have also been proven to provide the best environmental protections because they introduce state-of-the-art technologies to reduce emissions and increase safety where none existed before.

“We can put people back to work now if our policymakers can find the courage to say no to politically motivated anti-energy groups, who lack a realistic plan to help get America back on its feet.”

Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc

Correction: A previous version of this article gave an incorrect name for the Midwest director of the Consumer Energy Alliance. The director’s name is Chris Ventura. The Epoch Times regrets the error.