West Virginia is a powerhouse, and it’s no secret the work we do here keeps the lights on in our country and around the world. In fact, natural gas production has increased by 770% over the past decade, thanks to advancements in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies, making Mountain State the fifth largest energy producer in the country.
But without modern pipeline infrastructure, there is no way to move energy from where it is produced to where it is needed.
The development of natural gas and oil is an economic and environmental winner for the whole region.
Families and communities depend on the well-paying jobs, investments in manufacturing, and support for small businesses that power generation generates.
In 2019, West Virginia’s natural gas and oil industry supported more than 82,000 high-paying jobs, contributing more than $ 11.2 billion to our economy.
And thanks to local energy produced in our backyards, West Virginia is saving billions of dollars in household energy costs – $ 4.3 billion in 10 years (2006-2016), to be exact, according to the Consumer Energy Alliance. For commercial and industrial users of natural gas, these savings amount to $ 2.7 billion.
In order to build on this success, we must commit to expanding and building new pipelines, transmission systems and processing facilities to provide more affordable and reliable power.
Pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to transport natural gas, and the overwhelming majority – safely – built by men and women skilled in the building trades. But politics, government red tape, and extreme “Keep it in the ground” activism to stop the development of all fossil fuels have halted, blocked or delayed critical pipeline projects that would improve access to land. affordable and abundant energy.
Locally, the Mountain Valley Pipeline faces some of the same hurdles that led to the cancellation of other pipelines, like the PennEast Pipeline a few weeks ago and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline last summer.
Mountain Valley, slated to come into service next year, stretches over 300 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia, with an extension proposed to increase service to rapidly growing communities of North Carolina.
Pipelines to bring gas to markets in the Southeast, New England and the Midwest are essential to fuel economic growth while helping states meet their climate goals. In North Carolina alone, the use of natural gas for power generation increased 13-fold between 2005 and 2018, and one in four homes depends on natural gas for heat.
But regulatory delays and pipeline blockages threaten MVP’s success and risk weighing on consumers, as they did in New England, where anti-domestic energy policies force consumers to depend on imports to meet demand. demand – despite being a stone’s throw from the Marcellus and Utica shales. .
To continue to drive economic growth, keep the lights on, and make progress on clean air in West Virginia, we need a conducive business environment that attracts pipeline infrastructure development and investment in. downstream related such as manufacturing.
We must make it a priority to improve our nation’s pipeline infrastructure network for the benefit of all West Virginia, the energy security of our nation, and the environmental well-being of our world.
Charlie Burd is executive director of the Gas & Oil Association of West Virginia (GO-WV), based in Charleston. Learn more at gowv.com.