Infrastructure – So No One is Left Out in the Cold
Posted December 12, 2019
News that the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is bringing attention to the need for a natural gas pipeline to serve an impoverished area near Chicago makes a lot of sense. No person should be preparing for the approaching winter without clean, reliable heat, which natural gas provides.
Unfortunately, people living in the Pembroke Township area south of Chicago near the Indiana state line don’t have natural gas and are facing just such a challenge. The area’s median income is about $16,000 a year, it suffers from 30% unemployment and has a 33.9% poverty rate. NBC Chicago reports:
Many residents in the township use wood-burning fireplaces as their lone sources of heat, including Cleveland Brown, who admits that it’s hard work to keep his home warm. “If I had natural gas, I wouldn’t have to get up and go outside and keep it going,” he said.
Hopkins Park Mayor Mark Hodge:
“This community has been overlooked for 48 years for natural gas. We’re in need of industry. We’re in need of jobs, and our school is in need of natural gas.”
The plight of Pembroke Township, like others we’ve noted, is a reminder that access to affordable, reliable energy is critically important not only for comfort and convenience, but also for health, particularly among low-income Americans.
The other point is that the most vulnerable Americans are likely to be disproportionately harmed by the lack of access to affordable natural gas. This should give pause when localities make it policy to limit consumer access to natural gas (New York, New England and Berkeley, California), and as some presidential candidates say they would ban hydraulic fracturing, the No. 1 reason the U.S. is producing record amounts of natural gas.
Certainly, Rev. Jackson’s involvement in the Pembroke Township case heightens the visibility of that area’s acute energy needs. More generally, Rev. Jackson’s recent involvement underscores how critically important natural gas and new pipeline infrastructure are to provide affordable and reliable energy to Pembroke Township and to Americans more broadly.
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela have two grown children and six grandchildren.