Community Resilience Energy Environment

Pipeline payday: how builders win big, whether more gas is needed or not

Close corporate relationships between pipeline builders and gas buyers are allowing companies to reap higher profits while locking in emissions for years to come.

The real fight over America’s energy future isn’t in coal. Rather, dozens of pipeline projects, making up one of the largest expansions of natural gas infrastructure in U.S. history, are where the fossil fuel action is.

At a cost of billions of dollars, these pipelines will tap the rich reservoir of fracked natural gas flowing out of the Marcellus-Utica shale basin that lies under much of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

But are all these new gas pipelines really needed?

Critics say that the financial interests of gas and electric companies—not market demand—are driving most of the new pipelines proposed for the region. Those profits are approved by FERC, an agency that is charged with ensuring public interests, but that nurtures “an exceptionally cozy relationship” with industry, as described in a comprehensive investigation published last month by the Center for Public Integrity and StateImpact Pennsylvania, with National Public Radio.

“At every turn, the agency’s process favors pipeline companies,” the review found after the groups interviewed more than 100 people, reviewed FERC records, and analyzed nearly 500 pipeline cases.

It also noted another cozy relationship: the tight corporate links between the companies building the pipelines and those buying the natural gas, either to deliver it to homes and businesses or to use it to make electricity.

major pipelines

These close relationships, explored in greater depth here by InsideClimate News, not only set up surefire profits at the expense of consumers, critics say; they also lock in long-term incentives—in the form of physical infrastructure and financial rewards—to keep burning the fossil fuels that are warming the planet.

“It’s bad for ratepayers, it’s bad for the climate, it’s bad for the environment, but it’s really good for companies that are going to make profits,” said Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Source: InsideClimate News

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