Bipartisan Event Highlights Importance of Shale-Related Infrastructure
Ohio is fortunate to have some major shale-related infrastructure projects in the works, and the importance developing and investing in such projects was the focus of a bipartisan event hosted this week by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Ohio Manufacturers Association (OMA) and Youngstown Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The event featured a panel discussion, moderated by OMA managing director of public policy Ryan Augsberger, entitled “Fueling America’s Future: Accelerating Energy and Transportation Infrastructure.” The discussion featured:
- Congressman Tim Ryan (D-13th District)
- Congressman Bill Johnson (R-Sixth District)
- Rocco DiGennaro Jr., Western Reserve Building & Construction Trades Council (WRBCTC) president
- David Ledonne, MarkWest/MPLX vice president of operations for Utica and Appalachia
The list of major Ohio infrastructure projects currently in the works includes pipelines, roads, bridges and power plants, and as Rep. Ryan told WKBN News, “… At the heart of the discussion comes the impact on the local economy,” adding that energy infrastructure is,
“Great for the economy, great for the workers, middle-class jobs that are secure with benefits and pensions and good retirements, so it’s all good.”
In fact, investment in projects such as these is important to continuing the recent revival of manufacturing to Ohio, as Ledonne and Ryan also discussed,
“There is an opportunity to sit down in a bipartisan way and figure out how to use shale to move the country forward, because it can help us resuscitate manufacturing,” Ryan said.
Part of the investment that’s needed goes beyond aspects of infrastructure traditionally associated with energy development (such as pipelines) and also includes transportation infrastructure, because as Ryan noted,
“Our infrastructure is old, and we need to do something to fix it. These projects are not going to get any cheaper. We’ve got to get it done now. This is a time of investment for our country and it is going to cost us some money. But the alternative is we have infrastructure from the 1930s, we’re strangling the gas industry that wants to expand, we’re strangling the workforce that wants to go from a job making 10 bucks an hour to one of these 355 jobs that Dave talked about, one of these union jobs, with a pension and a benefit. That’s the American dream. That’s going to set our economy on an entirely new trajectory. That’s going to put people to work for the next 10 years if we do it right.”
Augsberger emphasized that,
“We know based on what we hear from our members that the support for transportation and energy infrastructure comes from all corners of the state. It crosses party lines, as you’ll see here today with the congressmen, and it transcends just about every demographic group you can imagine.”
That bipartisan support is also evident in a recent poll conducted by NAM that found 84 percent of Buckeye State residents — a mix of Democrats and Republicans — said they would like to see U.S. energy development increase. Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said they support construction of more pipelines, natural gas compressor stations and power plants.
Luckily for Ohio’s residents, as Rep. Johnson pointed out, many of these projects are already underway and are having significant impacts on his district’s economy and job growth. From Business Journal Daily:
“Johnson noted his district has seen some $8 billion in energy infrastructure spending, and there are four natural gas fired power plants and multiple compressor stations throughout the district.
“Petroleum engineers say the region can support potentially five ethane cracker plants such as the one now being studied in Belmont County. These are huge projects, valued at $5 billion and creating 10,000 construction jobs and upwards of 1,000 permanent jobs once completed. Imagine five of those here in our region. We’ve just begun to scratch the surface.”
And as DiGennaro explained, more jobs are in the works, thanks to new natural gas-fired power plants that will employ 500 union members. Altogether, EID estimates new natural gas-fired power plants could create roughly 4,000 local jobs.
As Ryan emphasized several times throughout the day, “The best social program is a job,” and that’s exactly what investments in energy infrastructure will create.
For more information on the event, be sure to watch the Business Journal Daily’s interviews with Congressmen Ryan and Johnson, and interviews with Rachel Jones from NAM and Mike Chadsey from the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA).