Over the past several years this false narrative that business is inherently evil has steadily crept into the social conscious. It has become commonplace, even laudable among some camps, to criticize corporate America as the antithesis of the working class. Nowhere is this animosity on display more—nor more misplaced—than towards traditional energy producers.
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Let’s be clear: good business is good for communities, good for consumers and good for everyday, hard-working individuals. That’s especially true of the energy industry. One of the few consistent growth sectors, traditional energy production is seeding opportunity, driving investment and equipping America to stay competitive on the global stage.
Regrettably, a vocal minority has had great success turning public opinion against oil and gas producers. These groups have wasted no opportunity to exaggerate and spin events that arise out of the normal operation of energy production—which, like any venture, carries intrinsic risk—to malign so-called “big oil.” And, too often, their faulty premises have been readily accepted as truth by media and lawmakers.
These smear tactics have real consequences—not only for the companies on the receiving end, but also for consumers. They threaten to undermine projects that provide access to affordable energy for businesses and families. And they risk destabilizing domestic development, the value of which cannot be overstated amid turmoil in the Mideast, where countries like Qatar continue to escalate tensions.
Recently, a Bloomberg reporter authored an article assailing Energy Transfer Partners, a well-respected pipeline company regarded for its long record of safety and responsibility.
It is hard not to read the article (and countless other digs at the energy sector like it) as a piece carefully sourced to stir anxieties among the public, and investors specifically. It bears mentioning the good work Energy Transfer Partners is doing, and the enormous impact it will have for surrounding regions and the nation at large.
The Rover Pipeline is one of several projects led by Energy Transfer Partners that stand to play a key role in meeting U.S. demand for oil and natural gas. The Dakota Access Pipeline, which received approval this spring, is now fully operational. It is moving Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to markets throughout the Midwest. The Mariner East II Pipeline in Pennsylvania is expected to be completed this fall and once finished will transport natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus reserves to hubs in areas like Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
With these investments, Energy Transfer Partners is well positioned to play a major role in supplying the country’s energy needs. This is good for businesses of every ilk who will benefit from reliable energy produced here at home. It’s good for consumers, who are sensitive to fluctuations in prices that affect their pocketbooks. And it’s good for policymakers struggling to find a competitive edge in international negotiations.
The benefits private-sector investment in energy infrastructure have and continue to make are clear. As a Forbes analysis this month notes, energy producers invested over $10 billion in infrastructure last year, which helped to bring online more than 14 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas. That’s driving greater natural-gas electrical generation, which increased its market share to 35 percent since 2005. It says a lot when the New York Times can print the headline: “Shale Gas to the Climate Rescue.”
Try as they might, opposition groups can’t mask the important contribution traditional energy producers are making to our country and our communities. It’s time to turn the page on the false narrative that the energy industry—and, more largely, businesses in generally—are out to exploit the little guy. That voters elected a businessman who makes no apologies for his support for the oil and gas industry suggests that the needle may finally be moving in the right direction.
If federal and state regulators focus solely on realities, there is every reason to believe the Rover natural gas pipeline will receive the approvals necessary to proceed. That’s a win for our communities no matter how opponents try to spin it.