November 23, 2016

Region’s Leaders on the Importance of Infrastructure

With the election season over, leaders across the nation are preparing to assume the responsibilities of their respective offices. While each candidate presented varying stances on a diverse range of issues, the Coalition for the Expansion of Pipeline Infrastructure was excited to see broad support for infrastructure development among national and state elected officials.

As the presidential election drew to a close, Donald Trump was quick to voice his position on infrastructure. During his victory speech, President-Elect Trump reinforced his aim to create jobs through infrastructure projects:

“We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”

In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address reflected similar concerns, resulting in his creating the Commission for Building the 21st Century Infrastructure:

“We have a statewide infrastructure challenge. … We need to get this right in Michigan for the long term. We need to invest more and smarter in our infrastructure so we can avoid crises like this in the future.”

“Now overall we need a smart strategic plan for all of this. … That’s why I will be creating the Commission for Building the 21st Century Infrastructure. We need experts steeped in credibility and clout. Visionary leaders committed to Michigan’s future. They’ll study what Michigan needs, develop a plan, making the right investments in water, sewer, transportation, broadband and other areas. And also discuss how we will pay for these investments. I will ask for their report in September of this year.”

Recently, Ohio Gov. John Kasich demonstrated his attention to the growing natural gas industry in the region. Ohio recently entered a three-year agreement at the Tri-State Shale Summit with West Virginia and Pennsylvania “to collaborate on areas critical to the success of the growing industry.” As Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor related:

“The issues and opportunities facing our growing oil and gas industry do not recognize state lines, making it essential that we work together to help ensure the continued growth we expect to see,” said Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor who represented the state and signed the agreement. “We are seeing tremendous and continued growth in this industry and we know that can be strengthened by partnering on key areas.”

And according to the press release:

“As part of the new agreement, the three neighboring states within the Appalachian Basin will discuss ways to cooperate in marketing efforts to attract new businesses, strengthen workforce development programs, spur investments in expanding infrastructure and delivery of natural gas and liquids, and encourage its academic institutions to expand and collaborate on research.”

Additionally, Pennsylvania has developed programs of its own with Governor Tom Wolf’s announcement of the Pipeline Investment Program, through which the Commonwealth Financing Authority will offer up to $24 million funding to make Pennsylvania’s natural gas available to its residents, manufacturers, and pad-ready sites. According to Gov. Wolf:

“Pennsylvania boasts tremendous natural gas resources, and it makes sense that our residents should benefit from the assets right under their feet … Doing so will also have a significant impact on the economic well-being of the commonwealth by creating jobs and making low-cost natural gas more readily available.”

Last but not least, West Virginia Governor-Elect Jim Justice was interviewed by the Exponent-Telegram leading up to the election. In the conversation, he laments some of his state’s missed economic opportunities, underscoring the fact that West Virginia should take advantage of the burgeoning natural gas industry:

“We have done things within our state years and years ago…we let our timer escape us and then we let our coal escape us and now we’re going to let gas escape us in ways if we don’t take advantage of the opportunities that we have right at our fingertips and welcome the growth of the gas industry.”

While these leaders may not share the same views on every issue, or even belong to the same political party, it is clear that the pressing need for energy infrastructure has garnered the attention of the top elected officials throughout the region. CEPI is encouraged to see this broad base of support for critical infrastructure projects, and would draw elected officials’ attention to pipelines like Rover that still await federal approval. With the project so close to construction, CEPI urges these leaders to voice their support for the Rover Pipeline.