Pipelines can provide a path to good-paying jobs

In February, a congressional subcommittee held a hearing on challenges and opportunities to promoting energy infrastructure projects. Members made statements, witnesses gave testimony and the value of new infrastructure was debated. 

In response to questioning on the value of energy infrastructure, a witness responded: “The wages and compensation packages that our members receive while working on these projects underpin not only their ability to keep a roof over their families’ heads and food on the table, but they also provide for private healthcare coverage and the ability of members to earn credits toward a defined benefit pension plan.” 

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The energy infrastructure projects driving these comments? Pipelines. The witness making this statement? The general president of a major labor trade union.

Both industry and labor agree that pipeline projects are a major source of good-paying jobs. 

Federal review of a major crude oil pipeline found the project would directly and indirectly provide tens of thousands U.S. jobs and billions of dollars in U.S. worker payroll. 

While the pipeline would support 6,800 construction jobs with $420 million in payroll, it would also lead to 4,600 manufacturing jobs with $309 million in payroll; 4,400 jobs in trade with $172 million in payroll; 2,200 jobs in finance and insurance with $131 million in payroll; 5,100 jobs in other professional services with $343 million in payroll; 2,700 jobs in health services with $141 million in payroll; and 5,700 jobs in food and accommodations with $278 million in payroll.

Good-paying jobs, not just in construction, but also in manufacturing and service sectors, are the benefit of every pipeline project. 

Whenever a major pipeline project is proposed, across our northern border or anywhere within the United States, thousands of jobs with millions of dollars in worker payroll can follow.

In addition, the benefits of a pipeline project will continue long after construction is completed. 

Communities along the route of a pipeline will gain property tax revenue that can fund school budgets, police and fire departments, and local government needs. 

Rural communities near pipelines with small budgets will benefit the most from this new influx of revenues. 

Consumers across the country will benefit from the downward pressure on gasoline and diesel prices new crude oil supplies bring.

Those same government studies analyzing project benefits also find building a pipeline would do more to protect the environment and avoid greenhouse gas emissions than any alternative, including rejecting the pipeline. 

According to U.S. government statistics, over 99.9 percent of petroleum products shipped by pipeline reach their destination safely. Government review found the alternatives to not building the pipeline and forcing that crude oil onto other modes of transportation would result in 2.6 times more crude oil released and 832 times more releases per year.

Transporting crude oil by pipeline also results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Government environmental review of a major pipeline project found that when stacked against the alternatives, operating the pipeline would result in 42 percent less carbon dioxide equivalent per year emitted than the leading alternative mode of transportation. 

These statistics are why the labor union leader responded to subcommittee questioning with, “[t]hese state-of-the-art pipelines are safer, more environmentally sound, and emit fewer greenhouse gases than any other method of transporting energy resources.”

Good-paying, family-supporting jobs, lasting benefits to communities and consumers, more environmentally protective than the alternatives; all of these benefits await the constituents of congressional members if they can pass infrastructure legislation that promotes pipelines. 

Black is president and CEO of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines.


The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.