August 3, 2017

Marietta College Professor: Pipeline Infrastructure “An Essential Component of a Robust and Resilient Energy System”

Cleveland Plain Dealer recently published an op-ed by Robert W. Chase, an emeritus professor in Marietta College’s Department of Petroleum Engineering & Geology. In the piece, Chase argues for the importance of natural gas infrastructure, arguing that – despite some opposition to the construction of pipelines – they play a critical role in powering homes and businesses across the country.

As he writes:

The reality is that almost nobody likes or appreciates natural gas pipelines. Let’s simply note that everyday life wouldn’t be the same without the gas that these pipelines carry for electricity generation, home heating and cooking, and industrial production. And there is little question that demand for natural gas is rising. Witness the retirement of aging coal and nuclear plants in favor of those that burn low-cost, clean natural gas.

Without improvements in the natural gas infrastructure, experts say that half of the nation’s economy from the Northeast to the Midwest will be under severe stress. Without adequate gas supplies, energy-intensive industries would be unable to remain open and the electrical-power-generating industry would suffer significantly. Thousands of working people could lose their jobs. Local economies, especially here in Appalachia, would suffer.

Further, Chase goes on to underscore the international relations opportunities inherent in access to natural gas and liquefied natural gas, which can both be exported to key allies around the globe:

And just as an abundance of natural gas has served the geopolitical interests of the United States and our allies in Europe, exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas have the potential to improve air quality in China, Japan, and other Asian countries that once had no cleaner and safer alternative to coal.

Given that America’s energy policy is likely to be one of the big political issues over the next few years – and maybe the biggest one – it’s worth understanding who really has benefited from the shale revolution. Once you do, you can get a sense for the importance of the pipelines that carry gas to markets where it’s in great demand.

As Chase concludes, “Building a pipeline infrastructure that is an essential component of a robust and resilient energy system is critical to America’s economic future and energy independence.” CEPI applauds Chase for voicing a number of important assertions on natural gas pipelines and the vital role they play in today’s society.