On Wednesday March 31 in Pittsburgh, President Biden unveiled a sweeping infrastructure and jobs plan that aims to reinvigorate the country’s economy and make significant investments in clean energy.
The American Jobs Plan includes spending to rebuild school buildings, hospitals, dated roads and bridges, and jumpstart railway projects across the country. Approximately $115 billion will go toward fixing roads and bridges, including 20,000 miles of highways and roads and the 10 most “economically significant” bridges in the U.S. as well as 10,000 smaller bridges.
What is not included in the plan is new investments in pipeline infrastructure, which transports critical energy resources to consumers safely, while also providing jobs. Pipelines continue to be the safest way to transport natural gas and energy, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. In addition, the Fraser Institute has found pipelines are 4.5 times safer than transport by rail, where there is a greater likelihood of oil spills or other accidents, which has the ability to cause potential environmental damage.
According to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (C02) emissions decreased in 2019 by 2.8 percent compared to 2018, as a result of coal and heating oil being replaced largely by natural gas. While climate change has proven to be a priority of the Biden Administration, this statistic should be encouraging and reinforce why natural gas infrastructure is important.
The oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania has made a significant impact to jobs and the economy as it supports over 320,000 jobs and contributes over $45 billion to the economy in the Keystone State. Our country should continue to invest in pipeline infrastructure in order to capitalize on the vast natural resources we have available.
While pipelines are mostly funded through private enterprises, they do require regulatory approvals similar to bridge or roadway construction. This is a very burdensome process that is likely to bog down Biden’s proposal in the very same way it has with new development and upgrades to existing pipelines in Pennsylvania and nationwide. Increased infrastructure investment is absolutely necessary, but a more streamlined regulatory process that provides assurances on timeline and investments is critical or else the economic benefits are muted.