Billions of dollars in economic activity are being held back from jumpstarting the economy, according to a telling report from Consumer Energy Alliance released this week. A number of pipeline expansion and energy infrastructure projects spanning from Appalachia to Montana have experienced cancellations, delays, or obstructions—all of which comes at a cost for the communities and economies they support.
The report titled, “How Pipelines Can Spur Immediate Post-COVID Economic Recovery,” measures the toll of these cancellations and delays against the positive outcomes these projects would have on spurring job creation and tax revenues. What CEA found was devastating: More than 66,000 energy jobs and $280 million a year in state andlocal tax revenue, could be in jeopardy should these projects continue to face challenges. As the report explains:
“The real impacts on workforce participation are expected to be historically bad with more than 103 million Americans, or nearly 40 percent of the country, at least temporarily out of the labor force – a low not seen since January 1973. And the public sector ripple effect from the lost revenues due to the COVID-19 shutdown is starting to be felt: States and municipalities are furloughing staff now and cutting essential services on which the public relies.”
Attacks on Industry
On top of what the COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon the industry, CEA acknowledges there are multiple, strongly organized efforts to dismantle the industry and quash these projects. Moreover, these types of concerted efforts are becoming more confrontational, and failing to acknowledge any progress made on behalf of the industry in terms of environmental sustainability and economic value.
In its report, CEA outlines specifically how lawsuits, regulations, and procedural challenges are placing billions in economic activity in limbo—leaving communities and local economies that desperately need it, behind:
“Activists, litigation and permit delays have canceled or are threatening a minimum of $13.6 billion in economic activity, the creation and support of over 66,000 jobs and more than $280 million per year in state and local tax revenue just by targeting the pipeline projects in this report. Further, untold billions in cumulative consumer savings are being put at risk or have been permanently lost during an economic downturn simply because certain policymakers, regulators and even jurists will not approve pipelines.”
U.S. residents who have come to increasingly rely on affordable energy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are now also in jeopardy of rising energy costs and less opportunities for jobs.
According to the report, jobs in the oil and natural gas industry are among the highest in median wages across U.S. salaried workers at an average of $117,000.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also caused havoc to other manufacturing industries that rely on oil and natural gas too. Pipeline construction creates and spurs demand for a number of industries within the supply chain: including steel, parts, and a number of services. As the report explains:
“The COVID-19 outbreak has laid bare great weaknesses in our supply chains, including our over-dependence on China and global competitors for key components. That has not only been demonstrated in our consumer and medical goods supply chains, but in the energy sector for solar development, battery storage and demand.”
Based on CEA’s findings, it is safe to say that the U.S. economy needs a jumpstart and that energy infrastructure is a key part of making that happen. With tens-of-thousands of well-paying jobs at stake, and billions of dollars on the line to support essential state and local services, it’s time to remove the barriers to a more secure economy and future for the energy industry.
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