Rover Pipeline Benefits Ohio

Joe Nichols Jun 09, 2017

On Wednesday, environmental group Oil Change International released a report on the Rover Pipeline that gives the wrong impression about what this new infrastructure project means for you and your family—good job opportunities, income for local landowners, and tax revenues for local governments.

Rover is natural gas pipeline currently under construction in Ohio. It will transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day—enough to heat about 75,000 homes for a year—from the oil patch in southeast Ohio to the rest of the United States. Energy companies in Ohio produce far more natural gas than we Buckeyes can use, but they have no good way to get some of it to people who need it. The Rover Pipeline would help fix that.

The pipeline would stretch across Ohio from the hills of Appalachia in the southeast part of the state all the way to the Toledo area. Building it will take $620 million in construction payroll that will create 10,000 jobs, with as many as 6,500 of those jobs in Ohio. Rover will also pay more than $120 million to Ohio landowners in direct payments for using their land. This means more Ohioans will have opportunities to work and save for the future. In addition, local governments in Ohio will receive approximately $135 million in property tax revenues that they can use to provide government services without raising taxes your taxes.

Oil Change International (OCI) has a different take on the effects of the pipeline and wants you to believe that it is bad for your family. However, their arguments are at odds with basic facts.

First, OCI says that “Without the pipelines, the gas will not reach a market. And without the supply, new gas plant [sic] would not be built…Without the additional supply of gas, energy needs could be met by cleaner sources of energy.” Natural gas is increasingly used to make electricity, especially in Ohio, but renewable energy would be a poor substitute. Wind and solar power is unreliable and intermittent, but you and I count on having electricity always available right when we need it—anything else would be a massive disruption to our daily lives, and that’s why renewable energy can’t meet our needs. That might change in the future as technology improves and battery costs fall, but until it does, we need traditional energy sources to power our modern economy.

Second, according to OCI, “renewable energy technologies are now cost competitive with natural gas-fired power.” This claim is misleading. Wind and solar can sometimes sell power at prices competitive with fossil fuels because they are heavily subsidized by your tax dollars. The Institute for Energy Research analyzed federal government data and found that compared to natural gas, wind receives 52 times—and solar 345 times—the subsidies that natural gas receives.

Further, the Energy Information Administration—a federal agency charged with tracking electricity costs—warns us not to compare wind or solar energy production costs against natural gas directly because renewables are intermittent. So even if a really good wind farm could at times light your bulbs cheaper than a natural gas plant, you’d probably pay more to make sure you could turn the lights on when you need them.

Finally, OCI laments that having a new pipeline in Ohio means companies will produce more natural gas in the state. But this is a good thing. Producing natural gas has the same benefits as transporting it through a pipeline: More good jobs for Ohioans. More royalty income for landowners. And more local tax revenues.

Ultimately, Oil Change International’s arguments fall apart because their interests aren’t what’s best for Ohio—creating good jobs for our friends and neighbors. Pipelines are the safest way to transport the natural gas that the state produces in abundance, creating jobs and opportunities for Ohioans.