The Energy Infrastructure Opportunity
Posted June 1, 2021
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm continues voicing support for our nation’s pipeline network, which is critically important to Americans’ everyday lives, the economy, national security and environmental progress.
Granholm last month said pipelines are “the best way to go” to deliver fuels after a cyberattack disrupted service on the Colonial fuels pipeline. Last week she said her department wants to build more pipes, particularly to transport low-carbon fuels. Granholm:
“At the Department of Energy, we're not against pipes. … We want to build more pipes. … There's a lot of jobs that are associated with decarbonizing ... and I think pipes are one of those opportunities.”
The secretary is right. The nation needs more pipelines now, for the energy Americans use now and will use in the future. Pipelines are the safest way to deliver crude oil and natural gas and products made from them – taking energy from where it’s produced to residential, business and manufacturing consumers.
The nation’s reliance on pipelines was clear in the aftermath of the Colonial cyberattack. API President and CEO Mike Sommers, writing for RealClear Energy (RCE):
[M]emories of the 1970s recently surfaced when a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline temporarily blocked America’s longest fuels artery. The shutdown of a cross-country pipeline once again demonstrated the essential nature of U.S. energy … On a broader scale, it may take criminal hackers to remind some of us that it was abundant homegrown energy which helped America shed its reliance on other nations for critical natural resources.
In that context, it’s quite encouraging to hear the energy secretary affirming her support and her department’s support for pipeline infrastructure. We should be building more pipelines, not blocking them or neglecting them. As Sommers wrote for RCE, pipelines are essential to U.S. energy trade, especially with friend and neighbor Canada. Pipelines have played a key role in turning the U.S. energy revolution into a story with broad domestic impact and increased security. Sommers:
For those reasons and more, maintaining existing pipelines and building new ones is just as critical as the upkeep of our other modern infrastructure needs – roads, bridges, airports, and ports. The White House’s infrastructure proposal made mention of all those, but not natural gas and oil pipelines – an omission that reflects the politically charged nature of energy policymaking these days. It also discounts the real value pipelines provide to American families and businesses: widespread access to the affordable and reliable U.S. fuels that heat homes, power hospitals, and enable us to get around.
In terms of energy, jobs, security and the environment, pipelines play a key role in providing the broad benefits of domestic energy to American consumers. Secretary Granholm’s statements indicate she understands this and will find a willing partner in our industry to broaden these benefits. Sommers:
America has more work to do on [infrastructure]. But if government and industry continue to partner and maintain existing pipelines, build new capacity, and integrate best-in-class cybersecurity protections, we can avoid threats of fuel scarcity, empower economic growth, and deter global hackers. Let’s seize this opportunity to reinforce – not shut down – our nation’s energy infrastructure.
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.