By Keith Mauck
To truly understand the opposition to building new pipelines, follow the money. Although many of the groups call themselves “grass-roots” organizations, their funding is provided by wealthy individuals and lobbying groups with their own agenda.
For example, in Virginia, the opposition to the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley natural gas pipelines is being funded in part by the Sierra Club, which spent millions of dollars to defeat the Keystone XL pipeline. Its goal, and that of the prosaic-sounding Appalachian Voices organization, is to prevent the production and transport of fossil fuels, period.
While energy companies and these environmental groups fight it out in court, the rest of us are hanging in the balance. Without new pipelines transporting North Dakota crude oil to refineries, where will our gasoline come from?
These legitimate questions tend to get lost in the energy versus environment discussion. Environmentalists say we should replace fossil fuels with wind and solar, as though renewables can fulfill all of our energy needs. But they can’t and will probably never be able to fuel all of our needs.
Fossil fuels – oil, natural gas and coal – will account for 80 percent of the energy we use in 2040, according to the government’s Energy Information Administration. Renewables’ share of energy consumption is rising, but wind, solar, biofuels, etc., do not exist in large enough quantities to replace traditional fuels.
If the United States is unable to transport its domestically produced oil to refineries, it could become increasingly dependent on foreign oil once again.
Oil and natural gas are going to power our economy for many years to come, and we need the pipelines to move them from the wellhead to consumers.
Government statistics show pipelines are the safest and most reliable form of liquid energy transportation. In 2013, more than 14 billion barrels of liquid fuel traveled by pipeline in America, and more than 99.999 percent reached their destination without incident. The United States already has about 190,000 miles of liquid pipelines and about 2.4 million miles of gas pipelines, but to transport energy from the recently developed shale formations – the Marcellus, Utica, Haynesville, Eagle Ford and others – new pipelines must be built.
The individuals and groups who oppose pipeline construction are putting their interests ahead of safety, the needs of consumers and U.S. energy independence. Eventually they will find themselves standing on the wrong side of history.
Keith Mauck, J.D., is publisher of GoMarcellusShale.com and GoHaynesvilleShale.com and co-founder of ShaleCast.com.