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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Ohio Farmers Support U.S. Energy Infrastructure Development

by Bob White, President, Ohio State Grange

Since 1867, the National Grange has worked to elevate and enrich the quality of life for rural Americans and all they provide for our nation and the world. Thanks to these hardworking men and women, America’s food supply is the most vibrant and diverse in existence, with an agriculture economy that exported over $133 billion worth of goods in 2015 to countries all around the globe. However, while output and exports have risen steadily over the years, so have production costs and the struggle that agricultural producers now experience to keep their operations afloat – especially as it relates to energy expenditures.

For the average American farm, 30% of all operating capital is spent on energy. Natural gas energy in particular has become a must-have input for American farmers, providing between one third and one half of the fossil fuel energy used by farms in the United States over the last 40 years. However, an outdated and unreliable energy pipeline system has made getting this vital resource to farmers difficult, increasing both the price of natural gas and the cost of transporting it to the end user.

But we have the capability to change this growing problem by investing in and supporting the litany of energy infrastructure projects our nation has in the queue. In fact, a recent report by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency concluded that proposed pipeline projects in the Midwest still awaiting regulatory approvals will significantly increase the capacity to safely transport natural gas to U.S. customers. That means increased reliability and accessibility of energy for our Ohio farmers.

One of the projects mentioned in the report – the Rover Pipeline – stands to provide farmers in Ohio and throughout the region with this much-needed access to natural gas. Once finished, the Rover Pipeline will run nearly 710 miles and will transport over 3.25 billion cubic feet of domestically produced natural gas each and every day to end users across the nation. As the 8th largest consumer of natural gas in the United States, this is especially incredible news for Ohioans and our many consumers and businesses that are in need of affordable energy with which to power their homes and operations – including the nearly 75,000 farming operations here in Ohio.

Energy Transfer Partners plans to invest $3.7 billion in the project, including over $147 million in property taxes during its first year in operation. The project will also create over 10,000 construction jobs, including between 4,500 and 6,500 positions here in Ohio.  ETP has also set aside over $620 million for labor expenses to pay workers building the pipeline, further stimulating our state’s economy.

Moreover, not only are these large infrastructure investments good for the economy, but they will also mean safer, more modernized means of transporting energy that we have available today. For example, pipelines have surpassed all other types of infrastructure in terms of safety, efficiency, environmental stewardship, and cost. Compared to truck and railroad alternatives, pipeline transportation results in fewer spillages, injuries, and deaths.

Even the former Acting Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Brigham A. McCown, stated that, “Pipelines are the safest form of transportation, bar none.” As stewards of the land, Grangers are devoted to preserving the health and productivity of America’s farmland and we believe that the Rover Pipeline and those like it are the best means of both transporting energy and taking care of this critical resource.

The average American farmer now feeds over 155 people, up from roughly 26 people in 1960. Thanks to advances in bioengineering in recent years we are able to develop better and healthier crops that require fewer pesticides and insecticides, getting more and more per acre every year. With an improved energy infrastructure, projects like the Rover pipeline can provide farmers with affordable energy to power their operations and they can in turn continue providing food, fuel, and fiber for our nation and the world.


For these reasons, the Ohio State Grange is proud to support the Rover project. The Grange urges the Federal Energy Regulatory to complete its review of the Rover Pipeline and grant final approval in order to jumpstart these many benefits. 

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