Consumer Energy Alliance report details consequences of denying pipeline projects

Source: Daily Energy Insider

The continued blocking of oil and natural gas pipeline project proposals and the loss of other energy generation options could result in an electricity shortfall of 31 percent in the United States by 2030, the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) said in a new report on Monday.

The report by the consumer advocacy organization detailed how a lack of expansion in pipeline infrastructure would increase energy prices, hurt the job market, and disproportionately affect Americans living on a fixed income or below the poverty line.

“There’s really very little recognition of the negative impacts failing to build pipelines will have on the country,” CEA President David Holt told Daily Energy Insider. “Our study shows those negative impacts, and those negative impacts will be felt the hardest by folks that are at or near the poverty level and those small businesses that can not afford to pay $2,000 a month more for electricity prices.”

In recent years, many projects that would allow the delivery of fossil fuels have experienced delays and disruptions due to litigation, lengthy federal permitting processes and protests.

In order to calculate the shortfall scenario, CEA used consumption and generation data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) 2016 Long-term Outlook Modeling Tables and Clean Power Plan projections for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements by 2030.

In the shortfall scenario, natural gas generation remains at 2015 levels due to a lack of approval for pipeline projects, electricity generation from coal and oil are eliminated, all nuclear relicensing requests are denied and recently announced nuclear plant closures are completed by 2030.

Under this scenario, the report found, the United States would experience a loss of 1,450.25 gigawatts of power generation, an amount equal to the generation needs of California, Florida, New York, Texas, Ohio and all of New England.

“Natural gas and oil brought by pipelines are really the only opportunity we have in the United States now to realistically meet our energy needs,” Holt said.

This shortfall would hurt jobs in manufacturing, energy, transportation, mining, agriculture and other industries, the report said, and could result in a loss of at least $15.38 billion in private capital expenditures and economic development.

It would also cause the abandonment of 3.17 million barrels of oil per day, nearly the same amount the United States imported each day from OPEC and Russia in 2015.

When examining different parts of the country, the report said the Northern Plains region would experience the largest electricity shortfall at 46 percent, followed by the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic with a 44.8 percent shortfall and the loss of 20 proposed pipeline projects.

The increased number of protests surrounding pipeline construction

CEA put the report together, in part, due to increased protest surrounding pipeline construction, according to Holt.

“By and large, the protestors either know they’re wrong or they’re misguiding a collection of folks to come up and stand up and say ‘no’ to all new pipelines,” Holt said. “The net result of this very illogical fight is that energy prices, electricity prices, oil prices will go up if we do not build these pipelines.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission lists 22 major onshore pipeline projects from 2016 to the present that have been pending and awaiting approval from the commission.

Holt also expressed hope that the incoming Trump administration would offer support to new pipelines and fossil fuel projects.

“We hope that the Trump administration will look at studies like ours to show what the negative implications of not having a sensible energy policy and not permitting things in a thoughtful, consistent manner are,” Holt said.

“I think [our report] really balances the conversation, because it has been a little bit one-sided in our view and we really need to recognize that if we don’t build pipelines there’s some serious negative implications and I think our study shows that pretty clearly,” Holt added.