Pipelines can prevent scary scenarios

Published 9:12 pm Saturday, March 18, 2017

By Raegan Baker

A recent study by a national energy consumer group says that if America keeps saying no to pipeline expansion and, as a direct result, more electricity plants close prematurely, we will lose nearly a third of the nation’s electric generation capacity by 2030. That’s enough to make a dozen states go dark.

This, the report adds, would “dangerously raise electric rates,” especially for those with little to no wiggle room in their household budgets to take on more unnecessary expenses, like poverty-stricken households and seniors living on a fixed income.

Email newsletter signup

And the forecast gets bleaker for those in the nation’s Mid-Atlantic region, like Virginians. Here, according to the report, a 44.8 percent electricity shortfall could unfold if such a worst-case scenario played out.

These are just some of the reasons why pipelines like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are important — especially to working families and small businesses.

The most common pitch you hear about pipelines are their multifaceted economic benefits, and they all ring true. Pipelines are a sure-fire way to grow the economy, increase job growth and raise local and state tax revenue.

All those advantages apply to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would, according to reports, create $2.7 billion in total economic activity, $4.2 million in local tax revenue and more than 17,000 jobs during construction.

Pipelines, coupled with increases in natural gas production and use, also help nearby residents and businesses of varying sizes realize significant cost-savings in their reoccurring energy bills.

According to an analysis last year by IHS Global Insight, domestic shale gas production put an average of $1,337 back into the pockets of American families in 2015.

Another report, from the Energy Information Administration, showed that fracking has improved the average cost of living for Americans by nearly $750 per year since 2008.

That may not be much to multimillionaire celebrities who oppose pipelines out of hand, but to everyday, hard-working Americans, it’s the difference between floundering and keeping above water.

But perhaps the most pressing reason why pipeline expansion is a must-do for Virginia is that there is no better way to transport energy and safeguard our communities.

Studies show that transporting energy via pipeline is 4.5 times safer than moving the same volume across the same distance by other means, like truck or rail, and 99.999 percent of resources moved through pipelines safely reach their destination.

Fewer pipelines also mean more vehicular traffic, which increases air emissions and the chances of an accident or spill. Thanks to pipeline upgrades and increases in the use of cleaner-burning natural gas, carbon emissions from electricity generation are at their lowest points in decades.

Pipelines help activists do exactly what they say they want to do: protect the environment. They also help friends and neighbors get jobs, pay the bills and grow the economy by promoting entrepreneurship and attracting larger employers via lower energy costs.

These are goals everyone — regardless of age, gender, class or political leaning — say they want to achieve.

But a severe lack of common sense keeps getting in the way.

Yes, renewables are vital, and yes, they’re among our fastest-growing energy resources. They should be rooted for, and we must work to ensure they keep growing.

But in Virginia, we do not and will not have enough of them to heat and cool our homes, turn on our lights and use our electric-heavy appliances should pipeline proposals be turned away and other generation options hop offline.

Natural gas and its accompanying pipeline infrastructure is the only way to do all the above safely and affordably — before scary, seemingly far-fetched scenarios become all too real.

Raegan Baker is a Virginia business owner and writer for the Conservative Tribune.