This guest op-ed was written by North Carolina State Senator Todd Johnson — Ed.
The recent spike in gas prices after the Saudi Arabia oil field attack is an important reminder of how foreign oil can have a big impact here in the U.S. Just days after the attack on the other side of the globe, Americans saw gas prices spike across most the country. That’s why it’s critical for the U.S. to strengthen our energy resources and prioritize our energy infrastructure to reduce our dependency on oil in the Middle East and enable greater economic stability here at home.
Pipelines are a critical part of that energy infrastructure, providing us the energy necessary to fuel most of our daily lives, whether it’s to heat our homes, drive to work, or generate electricity. Pipelines are also one of the safest and cost-effective ways to transport crude oil, natural gas, and petroleum, and the reason the United States has the largest network of energy pipelines world-wide.
Each year, over 2.5 million miles of pipelines in the U.S. safely deliver trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and hundreds of billions of ton/miles of liquid petroleum products. Several of those pipelines are located in the Midwest with nearly 30% of our nation’s crude oil running through Minnesota by pipeline and 20% in Wisconsin.
That’s why the recent Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of allowing the Line 3 pipeline project to continue is so important. It puts additional pressure on Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to give the green light to regulators to allow pipeline construction to build. And it denies a petition from opposition groups to further review an Environmental Impact Statement, an already rigorous safety review process that the company must go through to ensure a project is safe for the environment and surrounding community.
The non-profit environmental groups like Honor the Earth and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe are protesting the replacement of an aging pipeline that currently runs through North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. This is another classic case of outside groups strategically attempting to further their agenda by holding up projects in litigation. While they present themselves as environmental groups, many of them are funded by billionaires with competing interests like transporting crude by railway.
In addition to bolstering our energy infrastructure, there are economic benefits that result from pipelines – a fact that’s ignored by these outside groups. Pipeline companies contribute millions, sometimes even billions to a state’s economy during construction and many years after in tax revenue. Pipeline construction creates jobs and income which results in increased demand in consumer goods and services.
Opposing the pipeline is also out of step with Minnesota itself and the many other groups and communities who support this pipeline being rebuilt. The Laborers’ International Union of North America and Iron Range labor union members in Minnesota, for example, are vocal proponents of the pipeline’s construction because it will create more union jobs and enrich the local economy.
The bottom line is that the recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision is a positive step for bolstering U.S. energy resources. Without pipelines like Line 3, we are undermining our energy infrastructure and the ability to safely, affordably deliver the energy resources that are needed to power our everyday life. This, in turn, helps the U.S. reduce our dependence on oil in the Middle East and strengthens American energy leadership. That’s something every American should get behind.
North Carolina State Senator Todd Johnson (R) represents North Carolina’s District 25. He also serves as a member of the North Carolina Board of Community Colleges.