Ohio businesses need Rover Pipeline

Toledo Blade

Zachary Frymier

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The need to transport energy is one of the most pressing issues facing businesses across Ohio’s economy. The Rover Pipeline stands to address this concern by carrying domestically produced natural gas to regional markets, thereby supplying businesses of all manner with access to an affordable energy resource.

As Ohio’s leading business advocate, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and its nearly 8,000 member companies are devoted to building and sustaining an environment in which Ohio entrepreneurs of all varieties are able to operate competitively.

However, the unfortunate reality is Ohio lacks an adequate energy pipeline infrastructure to efficiently transport this vital energy source to end markets and therefore unnecessarily increases production costs across the board. That is where the Rover Pipeline can help alleviate this burden and have a major impact on virtually every facet of Ohio’s economy.

Consider agriculture, for example, an industry that employs 74,000 Ohioans and contributes nearly $4 billion a year to our state’s economy. For the average farmer, energy expenses account for well over 30 percent of total production costs.

Infrastructure improvements like Rover will lower operating costs for ag producers by giving them a new stream of affordable and reliable natural gas with which to power their operations. Those savings will then be passed along to the purchasers of agricultural products, including both commercial and private users.

With the seventh-largest gross domestic product in the country, totaling almost $584 billion in 2014 and comprising nearly 4 percent of America’s total GDP, Ohio is already a robust economic engine and has much to gain economically from construction of the Rover project, as it is particularly essential to the pipeline’s efficiency.

As proposed, Rover will deliver gas from processing plants in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and eastern Ohio to the Midwest hub near Defiance. From there, 68 percent of the gas will be transported through existing pipelines and distributed to markets across America.

As such, nearly $135 million of the estimated $147 million in property taxes collected during Rover’s first year in operation will go to Ohio.

Overall, the Rover Pipeline alone will invest more than $3.7 billion in the nation’s local and state economies and create more than 10,000 construction jobs, including between 4,500 and 6,500 positions here in Ohio. In turn, these workers will spend their wages on goods and services in communities along the pipeline route, providing local business owners with a true windfall in commerce.

Further, roughly 76 percent of the pipeline’s materials will be manufactured here in the United States, benefitting Ohio manufacturers and further stimulating our state’s economy.

Rover has already granted a $34 million contract to Ohio-based Ariel Corporation for the manufacture of 39 natural gas compressors. And this is just one example of the many contracts to follow.

It’s also important to note that underground pipelines have proven for years to be the safest means of transporting energy products, including natural gas.

More than $19 billion is spent annually by natural gas companies to guarantee the efficiency and safety of their delivery systems. Pipelines have the lowest number of injuries and fatalities when compared to truck and rail alternatives by a 10-to-1 margin.

As one of America’s major economic hubs, Ohio and the many trades that thrive here have little to lose and everything to gain from the development and construction of the Rover Pipeline. Ohio businesses and consumers, including the many that utilize Ohio agricultural products, are in need of a more reliable and affordable means of transporting energy with which to power their homes and operations. Rover will directly provide them with that vital resource. For these reasons, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce encourages the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to conclude its review of Rover and approve the project.

Zachary Frymier is the director of energy and environment for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.