A national industrial energy users’ organization went to bat for eight stalled natural gas projects and came out swinging at FERC earlier this week. It is part of an increasingly aggressive lobbying approach by Washington, DC-based Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA).
IECA, which bills itself as the only national trade association cutting across all major U.S. industries, hit the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last Tuesday with six-page briefs supporting construction of takeaway pipeline projects in the Northeast and Atlantic Seaboard that bid to move more gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales.
The representatives of the nation’s major energy consumers have a simple message: we need the natural gas.
In touting the Columbia Gas Transmission LLC VEPCO project in Warren County, VA, IECA told FERC its members are important stakeholders as large gas and power-consuming companies with the “ability to maintain and increase manufacturing jobs,” and that ability is “completely dependent upon an increased deliverability of natural gas.”
While touting members’ dependence on natural gas and collective annual sales of $1 trillion, IECA asked FERC to reject arguments from the “Keep It in the Ground” campaign, which is opposed to fossil fuel use.
“These activists do not represent consumers and are not accountable for millions of employees; they represent an ideology that is not realistic when it comes to commerce or the well-being and safety of consumers,” IECA said.
IECA is urging FERC to “accelerate and streamline” the regulatory approvals of new pipelines, arguing that rejecting new pipeline projects hurts the nation’s commerce because manufacturing companies cannot grow without increased gas supplies.
In the case of the VEPCO project, the industrial users’ cite the U.S. Energy Information Administration as concluding gas demand in Virginia has increased 23.3% since 2006. The project, involving a 2.47-mile, 24-inch diameter pipeline and accompanying facilities, was originally filed with FERC in 2011.
Many of the other projects are much larger and have been subject to the same delays and frustrations. They include Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co.’s New York Bay expansion project; a pipeline consortium’s Mountain Valley Pipeline project; Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.’s (TGP) Northeast Energy Direct project; Dominion Carolina gas Transmission LLC’s Transco to Charleston project; TGP’s Susquehanna West project; Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC’s incremental market project; and Dominion Transmission Inc.’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC project.
IECA said the projects represent billions of dollars in capital investment, but also hundreds of billions of dollars in economic multipliers such as annual payrolls and gross domestic product additions.
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