Pipelines Essential To State’s Recovery

Wed, November 04, 2020

As our economy slowly emerges from the staggering shocks of the coronavirus pandemic, the pace of America’s awakening — and Texas’ — hinges on the energy and the pipelines that deliver it provide.


It’s our economic lifeblood, contributing to virtually every good and service we produce. We cannot rebuild our industries, small businesses, services, cities and our lives without the heat, light and power that generate the jobs, homes, food and amenities that make our lives livable. Energy pipelines make that possible — nearly 470,000 miles of them that crisscross the Lone Star State and deliver affordable, reliable energy to Texas’ homes and businesses.


It is far too easy these days for anti-energy forces — the aggressive, alarmist activists and their political allies — to condemn energy pipelines and oppose new projects or renovations to existing pipelines. Texas is the nation’s largest natural gas-consuming state, as well as its biggest oil and natural gas producer, and pipelines deliver its essential energy to 4.7 million Texans’ homes and businesses. Natural gas generates about 45 percent of the state’s electricity, and the shale revolution in places like the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford, which fundamentally changed our nation’s energy and geopolitical landscape, was made possible by pipelines.


Pipelines deliver critical economic and environmental benefits to the state, its businesses and its people. Economically, the state’s pipeline industry and system are expected to contribute more than $374 billion to Texas’ economy in the time from 2015 to 2024 and sustain 171,000 high-paying jobs annually, Texas Tech University estimates. That would inject more than $19.5 billion in state and local government revenues.


Nationwide, pipeline construction projects provide almost 349,000 jobs for Americans, with skilled trade unions training and hiring Texans for jobs with a median wage of $68,836.


On the environmental and safety front, pipelines are the most energy-efficient and cost-effective method to transport large volumes of oil and gas compared with truck, rail or ocean vessel. Just one 20-inch pipeline operating for 50 miles can displace 1,650 tanker trucks and help relieve pressure on roads and infrastructure.


Texas’ air quality has improved dramatically even as the state’s demand for energy has surged and pipelines have expanded. And natural gas contributed to a decline in emissions of as much as 78 percent since 2000, Texas regulators estimate. Sulfur dioxide declined 78 percent; carbon monoxide, 75 percent; nitrogen oxide, 50 percent; and ozone concentrations, 30 percent.


At the same time, pipelines delivered more than $60 billion in savings between 2006 and 2016 — an estimated $7.2 billion for residential users and $52.4 billion for commercial and industrial users, a Consumer Energy Alliance study found.


Texas maintains a pipeline integrity program that exceeds federal safety and inspection requirements. The Texas Railroad Commission’s Pipeline Safety Division conducts roughly 2,850 pipeline inspections annually. It must be underscored that pipelines are buried underground to reduce any impacts to the surface, and Texas law requires that pipeline easements be restored to their former condition so landowners can resume prior use. Biologists and remediation experts aid in the restoration of ecosystems.


Texans should not forget nor have anti-energy voices dull the impact that the state’s energy pipelines have on their lives and, most importantly now, on the ability of our economy to rebound from COVID-19. Remember their contribution when you admire San Antonio’s River Walk and the Alamo, Houston’s Space Center, Big Bend National Park and a favorite barbecue restaurant.


David Holt is a founder and president of the Consumer Energy Alliance.