Sean Hackbarth Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


April 03, 2017


In the battle over energy infrastructure, even though the pro-energy side has gotten some pipeline wins, the need for continued construction will continue, and with that continuing to make the case for them.

Let’s mention two wins.

In North Dakota, the Dakota Access Pipeline is almost ready to go into service. This fact has already given a boost to drilling on the Bakken:

The state's drilling rig count has jumped 40 percent since early February, when Trump gave final approval to the pipeline. By the end of the year, analysts expect the rig count to rise another 10 percent or more.

Last month, the Trump administration signed off on the Keystone XL pipeline. While legal challenges are underway, the pipeline now has an advocate for the project in the White House.

Once both these projects are behind us, as former Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Tony Clark acknowledges, the need for pipelines and other energy infrastructure won’t go away:

First, for the foreseeable future, residents of the United States will continue to rely on petroleum products such as crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids like butane, ethane and propane to sustain their everyday lives. Second, pipelines remain, by far, the safest means by which to transport those energy goods. Third, the United States continues to work steadily toward the diversification of its energy sources, utilizing energy goods produced here at home and lessening our reliance on energy from volatile regions elsewhere in the world. Fourth, a pressing need for infrastructure remains in growing production regions within the United States – such as the Marcellus, Bakken, and Permian shale regions – to markets within and for export to allies abroad.

These facts are too often ignored by opponents of all pipeline infrastructure projects. While there may always be those who incorrectly insist that a full transition to renewable energy will occur almost overnight, it is vital that our local, state, and national leaders legislate, regulate, and provide oversight that is grounded in reality.

Even as new energy resources are developed, Americans continue to need traditional energy to power our cars, produce our consumer goods, heat our homes, and supply our businesses. As a nation we must prioritize and focus on improving energy infrastructure projects that will deliver access to American energy in the safest and most reliable and environmentally responsible manner possible.

Energy isn’t distributed precisely where it’s consumed. Therefore, we need to build infrastructure to transport oil from North Dakota’s Bakken and Texas’ Permian Basin and natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in the Northeast to consumers across the country or around the world.

Anti-energy, “Keep it in the ground” activists will do all they can to block these necessary projects—that’s what they live for.

But things are looking up. After eight years, we have an administration in Washington, DC who understands the economic imperative and job-creating ability of domestic energy and the necessity of pipelines and other energy infrastructure to support it.

About the authors

Sean Hackbarth

Sean Hackbarth

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.

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