October 28, 2015

Agriculture, Labor, Manufacturing, and Business Groups Unite to Launch New Coalition Backing Energy Pipeline Infrastructure

Coalition for the Expansion of Pipeline Infrastructure to Marshal Support for Responsible Expansion of Critical Pipeline Infrastructure in Ohio and Michigan

COLUMBUS, OHIO – Agriculture, manufacturing, labor, and business groups representing more than 20,000 businesses, laborers and other landowners in Michigan and Ohio today announced the formation of a new coalition in  support of building safe pipeline infrastructure in Michigan and Ohio.  The group, named the “Coalition for the Expansion of Pipeline Infrastructure,” intends to educate the public on the benefits and safety of pipelines and other infrastructure, and give voice to landowners, farmers, manufacturers, businesses and other stakeholders in the region that stand to benefit from the economic development and energy security fostered by improved pipeline infrastructure.

“Energy development in the eastern Midwest has created enormous opportunity for regional manufacturers and businesses throughout the supply chain – from steel mills and compressor manufacturers to trucking companies and restaurants,” said Ryan Augsburger of the Ohio Manufacturers Association.  “But in order to capitalize on future development, we need to support the expansion of natural gas pipelines to move gas to market.  Investing in pipeline infrastructure today will create access to affordable, reliable and clean-burning natural gas to power manufacturing and heat regional homes and businesses.”

With energy demand projected to continue to increase in both Michigan and Ohio, the safe transport of natural gas is becoming increasingly important in both states. Despite a growth in natural gas production in the Marcellus and Utica shale fields, there remains a bottleneck in midstream infrastructure.  Proposed pipelines crossing Michigan and Ohio, such as the Rover pipeline project, are poised to break that bottleneck – assuming regulatory consideration proceeds in a timely fashion.

“It’s been almost 11 months since FERC held its first scoping meetings to discuss a leading natural gas pipeline project – Rover,” noted Geno Alessandrini, Sr. of Michigan Laborers’ District Council, “We welcome a thorough review, but we’re ready to get to work. Pipeline projects generate substantial economic benefits for our communities, including tens of thousands of well-paying local construction jobs and millions in annual tax revenues,” said Alessandrini. “Thousands of jobs are supported throughout the supply chain—jobs for manufacturers that make the steel pipe and many other components required for a major infrastructure project. These are local jobs that are vital for our members and our communities.”

Support for expanded pipeline infrastructure reaches beyond the business and manufacturing communities, with rural and agricultural interests poised to benefit substantially from responsibly constructed pipeline projects. “As an organization dedicated to agricultural interests, we’ve watched energy costs change significantly at any given time – and this is bad news for the ag sector,” said Lisa Tharp of the Ohio State Grange. “We could lose farmland due to escalating costs of our operations. From producing fertilizer to drying our crops, farmers rely each and every day on low-cost natural gas. Modern pipeline projects ensure reliable access to domestic natural gas supplies and keeps our farmland safe and our budgets under control, and they deserve our support.”

Some groups in the coalition bridge the interests of both construction and agriculture. “Pipelines that are constructed safely and responsibly must consider everything from contour restoration to drainage tiling,” said Mike Cook of the Michigan Land Improvement Contractors Association – Michigan. “Especially when constructing infrastructure like pipelines, a well thought out plan to mitigate impacts on the environment is crucial to the health and productivity of the land after a project is completed.  Our group and our counterpart in Ohio have been directly consulted with the plans in place for projects like Rover and we stand with landowners to ensure that the construction of new pipeline infrastructure is done right.”

The Coalition for the Expansion of Pipeline Infrastructure (CEPI) is a diverse partnership of businesses, trade associations and labor groups that collectively support the responsible expansion of critical energy infrastructure across Michigan and Ohio.  Together, CEPI represents more than 20,000 individuals, farmers, laborers, manufacturers, and businesses from across Ohio and Michigan. Members of the Coalition include: The Ohio Manufacturers Association, the Michigan Laborers’ District Council, the Ohio State Grange, the Land Improvement Contractors Association – Michigan, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Grange, Laborers District Council of Ohio, Ohio Manufacturers Association, Michigan Laborers’ District Council, Land Improvement Contractors Association – Michigan, United Association Pipeliners Local 798, Michigan Chemistry Council, Michigan Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET), Michigan United Association, Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association, and the Michigan Forest Products Council. For more information, visit http://www.expandpipelineinfrastructure.org or on Twitter @ExpandPipeline.