Pipeline Infrastructure as a Bipartisan Issue
Posted February 9, 2021
As the White House considers where it stands on existing and future pipeline projects that bring the nation’s abundant domestic natural gas and oil – as well as products made from them – to where consumers need them, it should factor in that building and operating pipelines create and support tens of thousands of jobs, generate bipartisan support in Congress and are coveted by working men and women in America’s labor unions.
Exhibit A is last week’s U.S. Senate vote supporting the Keystone XL pipeline, the huge infrastructure project President Biden canceled his first day in office – and with it more than 1,000 union jobs. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana made support for the project bipartisan, and Manchin this week wrote a letter to the president asking him to reconsider his decision:
Pipelines continue to be the safest mode to transport our oil and natural gas resources and they support thousands of high-paying American jobs. ... I am heartened by your promise to create jobs and stand ready to work with you to ensure the growth of good union jobs across the country. Ongoing development of responsible energy infrastructure supports your "Build Back Better" priorities by keeping Americans working while strengthening North American economic and energy security. ... Pipeline infrastructure projects already undergo a rigorous permitting process that allows experts to weigh-in on the security, safety, and environmental impacts of the project. I encourage you to let these processes proceed as intended and to not let politics drive the decisions on the development and operation of our nation's vital energy infrastructure.
While Senate budget votes are largely symbolic, last week's vote has meaning going forward as the administration weighs other pipeline projects – projects that create jobs and help ensure the affordability and reliability of U.S. energy.
Exhibit B: Remarks by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in an Axios on HBO interview, critical of the president's Keystone XL cancellation:
The key takeaway quote from Trumka, whose union represents more than 12 million active and retired workers:
“I wish he hadn’t done that on the first day, because the Laborers International is right: It did and will cost us jobs in the process.”
Trumka said he agrees with Terry O’Sullivan, Laborers International Union of North America general president, who said that “killing good union jobs on day one, with nothing to replace them, is not building back better” – referring to the title of Biden’s economic plan. Tyler Noel of Aberdeen, South Dakota, was among pipeline workers interviewed by CBS:
“It's not just a job, it's like a lifestyle. The only people I talk to are family members and pipeliners. … Anything that was coming in the next few months was supposed to be Keystone. If I hadn't saved my money through the years I would really be in a bind. But I'd say I've got at least three months, then I'm gonna have to do something.”
Below, out-of-work pipeline workers talk with Fox News:
As the nonpartisan U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast last week in its 2021 Annual Energy Outlook, natural gas and oil are going to play big roles in U.S. energy for decades to come. Dan Yergin, IHS MARKIT vice chairman, in an interview with Fox Business:
“When we do our analysis of all the policies and everything that’s talked about, oil and gas will continue to be an important part of the energy mix for a long time. We’ll see more focus on carbon capture, as it’s called, but [oil and natural gas] doesn’t go away. There are 280 million cars in the United States – virtually all of them run on gasoline, and the average car in the United States stays on the road 12, 15 years. So, we’ll be using [fossil fuels] for a long time. It’ll be more of a mix. We’ll see more solar, we’ll see more wind, all of those things will come together to support the economy. Oil and gas are here for a considerable while.”
That U.S. energy picture is incomplete without sufficient infrastructure to bring natural gas and oil from production areas to refining and processing facilities and then to where it’s needed to meet rising demand from consumers, power plants, businesses and manufacturers.
This includes pipelines that bring natural gas to fuel electricity generation in partnership with intermittent solar and wind energy, support that is essential to the growth of those renewable sources across the country.
Our industry supports the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement, and U.S. natural gas and oil can play a big part in helping the administration achieve its climate goals while continuing to reduce key greenhouse gas emissions. Building new infrastructure and expanding the capacity of existing infrastructure are fundamental to this role – even as our industry strives to continue supplying Americans with the affordable, reliable energy they use in their modern, daily lives.
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.
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