January 27, 2016

Hillsdale College Professor: Pipelines Benefit Ag Producers

Last fall the Ohio State Grange issued a report, “Natural Gas Infrastructure and its impact on Michigan and Ohio Agriculture,” that indicated new natural gas pipelines are critical to delivering an abundant supply of affordable energy to family farms across our region. Recently, authors Gary Wolfram, president of the Hillsdale Policy Group and Charles Steele, an economist with the Hillsdale Policy Group published an opinion piece in the Detroit News highlighting the study and further emphasizing the importance of new energy infrastructure projects such as the Rover Pipeline.

We have looked at the likely impacts on agriculture in Michigan, Ohio and the eastern Midwest of pipeline infrastructure projects that move natural gas from Pennsylvania. What we found was that new natural gas pipelines would offer substantial benefits to agricultural producers in Michigan, Ohio and the Midwest in general, with minimal downsides.

Controlling production cost is crucial to profitable farming. As energy is a major component of farm production expenditures, accounting for over 30 percent of costs, inexpensive energy, and especially increased use of natural gas, holds substantial promise for the ability of farmers to control their costs.

The study also addressed safety concerns commonly associated with natural gas pipelines, but concluded that “the risks associated with pipelines are less than the risks of alternative approaches.” Adding that both the National Transportation Safety Board and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration agree that “pipeline transportation is easily the safest method of transport, far superior to truck and rail.”

Agricultural operations across our region depend on a reliable supply of affordable energy and key infrastructure projects like the Rover Pipeline promise to safely deliver an abundant supply of clean natural gas from the nearby Marcellus and Utica shale plays.