Recent news about pipelines showcases importance of energy infrastructure

First the good news.

The developer of the Mariner East 2 pipeline recently announced the completion of the final phase of construction in Pennsylvania, marking an important milestone for the entire system. Energy Transfer is wrapping up commissioning to put the line into service in a few weeks.

Mariner East is a pipeline infrastructure system of multiple pipelines in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio and West Virginia. The system transports natural resources such as propane, ethane and butane from the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations to markets throughout the state and the broader region, including Energy Transfer’s Marcus Hook Terminal on the east coast.

Now that Mariner East 2 is finished, the company plans to convert part of the Mariner East 1 pipeline back to carrying refined products, such as gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, and heating oil. This new “Pennsylvania Access” line would connect Midwest refineries to central Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley, and upstate New York.

Now for the bad news.

Equitrans Midstream, the developer behind the Mountain Valley Pipeline, recently told investors that the company is still committed to completing the embattled project but is unsure when it will enter service due to repeated judicial rulings stripping it of necessary permits.

The 303-mile pipeline would stretch from West Virginia to Virginia, where the Southgate Extension would then connect to carry gas into North Carolina. The pipeline would create additional opportunities for drillers in western Pennsylvania and open new markets to clean, abundant domestically produced natural gas.

Unfortunately, the 4th Circuit overturned the approval for the main pipeline from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and then the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently committed to withholding a key permit regarding endangered species reviews.

If that isn’t a wakeup call about the importance of energy infrastructure, then this report from the Consumer Energy Alliance, a longtime member of the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance, should be.

CEA found that Pennsylvania families and businesses will spend an additional $512 million to more than $630 million on gasoline and diesel fuel annually over the following five years due to the resulting loss of production at area refineries if Line 5 is shutdown.

In addition to increased energy costs, Pennsylvania could lose up to $2.1 billion in economic activity, $34.4 million in state tax revenue, and more than 3,800 jobs from the shutdown, according to the CEA report. (The Michigan governor is trying to shut down the underwater pipeline, which has been operating safely since 1953.)

Line 5, owned and operated by Enbridge, transports up to 540,000 barrels per day of light crude oil, light synthetic crude, and natural gas liquids (NGLs) to heat homes and businesses, fuel vehicles, and power industry in parts of the upper Midwest and western Pennsylvania, including to United Refining Co. in Warren, Pa., where it is refined and distributed for sale as gasoline and other fuels across the region.

These pipelines really are the energy superhighways that our states need to deliver the fuels that power every facet of our modern economy.