Unions Pack the House In Support of Ohio Pipeline

by Jackie Stewart, Energy in Depth

As EID has continued to highlight, unions have been speaking out against the Keep It in the Ground movement. As the war between fringe anti-fracking extremists and unions wages nationwide, in Ohio, local men and women are standing their ground to fight for jobs.
These jobs consist of the “900 local union construction jobs” promised to Ohioans from Kinder Morgan, as part of their Utopia East pipeline, which is a $500 million project to transport ethane and propane from eastern Ohio to the Ohio/Michigan border.
In response to the news that the pipeline would be coming to Ohio, men and women of Laborer’s (Local 500), Operating Engineers (Local 18), and the Plumbers and Pipefitters (Local 798) packed the house at a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing on a water quality certification in Harrison County in support of the pipeline. The audience at the forum was about 99 percent made up of union members who wanted to see the project go forward. There were two landowners who provided comments and questions about the line, but did not oppose the project. Here’s a highlight of the comments made by the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 18:
On behalf of our estimated 15,000 current and retired members, We are here to inform the Ohio EPA that the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 18 has officially endorsed and is fully supportive of the proposed Utopia East Pipeline Project.
Kinder Morgan who proposes to develop the Utopia East Pipeline system has committed to utilize a local union work force on the entire project. Kinder Morgan has always committed to operate safely, protect the public, their employees, contractors and the environment in all areas they operate. Local 18 members are trained, skilled and the safest workforce with extreme passion about their craft and job they do. With the combination of Kinder Morgan and the Union Trades building the Utopia, all federal and state agencies can be certain the project will be built and maintained at the highest safety standard.
The Utopia East Pipeline will cross numerous sources of water across its 215-mile path. I can assure you all that there will be no negative impacts to the quality of the streams, wetlands or watersheds along the entire route. The members of Local 18 are just as concerned about the water sources as anyone else. They too live in the cities and towns the Utopia will pass through along with their friends and families.
We look forward to a timely decision by the OH EPA so that we can begin work on the Utopia East Pipeline and get the job done right. Thank you for your time
In an article entitled “Union workers come out in support of Utopia East pipeline” the News-Messenger reported:
David Fleetwood, a business manager with Laborers International Union of North America Local 500, said the project would be a boost to the state’s economy…he emphasized the safety measures employed by workers on large-scale projects like Utopia East. “People think that pipelines aren’t safe. But today’s pipelines have sophisticated monitoring equipment,” Fleetwood said. (Emphasis added)
The Utopia East pipeline project is slated to start construction next month and run through 2017, going into service early 2018 with a capacity to move 50,000 barrels per day. According to a studyby Kent State University, Kinder Morgan’s line will boost Ohio’s economy by approximately $237 million, generate $4.9 million in tax revenues, create 2,132 direct and indirect jobs in Ohio (of which 900 are union construction jobs), contribute $144.9 million to Ohio’s gross state product and provide $87.5 million uplift to the Ohio economy through additional income and spending. Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs for Kinder Morgan said,
Ohio’s Utica shale production is driving energy industry growth, creating thousands of good jobs, powering U.S. economic growth and helping to make our nation more energy independent. Overall, many communities and landowners along the pipeline route are positive and welcoming of the clear benefits this project will bring to their local economy, the state of Ohio and ultimately, the Great Lakes region.” (Emphasis added)
Mr. Fore’s statement was certainly obvious by the packed house of support at the hearing last week.
One of the most important things about these pipeline and natural gas power plants coming to Ohio is that for the first time in five years, practically all areas of the state will be reaping the benefits from the unprecedented production from Utica shale wells. The largest portion of taxes to be realized from Utopia East will come in the form of sales tax revenues to state and local/county coffers. As EID recently showed in a new report, shale counties realized a 65 percent boost to sales tax revenues over the past five years.
In EID’s sales tax report, we looked at nine shale counties: Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Guernsey, Harrison, Jefferson, Monroe, Belmont, and Noble. However, thanks to these new pipelines and natural gas fired power plants, areas throughout Ohio will start to realize a boost to their local taxes as well, such the 14 counties included in Kinder Morgan’s Utopia East pipeline.
In short, Ohio’s Utica shale renaissance is just getting started. With rigs ticking back up again, coupled with the infrastructure buildout such as these pipelines, we are poised to see an exciting fourth quarter.

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