Editor's Log: Energy Proud

By Robert Carpenter, Editor | April 2014, Vol. 69 No. 4

More and more each day we are seeing statistics reflecting what most of us in the pipeline industry already know: the economic impact of a booming energy industry – pipelines included – is primarily responsible for economic condition of the United States.

Whoa, don’t blame us for the lingering effects of the Great Recession and the anemic growth of the American economy many would quickly say. That statement is actually reflective of good news for the nation as a whole. If the job growth and money being spent and generated from the energy industry was removed from the past five years, the U.S. would have flat to negative growth. In fact, some have convincingly argued that the energy market has kept the U.S. from actually slipping into a second recession.

Shale oil and gas and all of the subsequent market booms such as pipelines, has been providing sunshine for almost seven years while most other markets drifted through the darkness of depressed or receding industries. Literally millions of jobs have been added. Take that out of the equation and who knows where our economy would actually be today.

Also, a term keeps cropping up in energy discussions that have rarely – if ever – been associated with pipelines. In fact, it is a concept more foreign than familiar for long-time pipeliners. Talk of “sustainability” of the strong energy/pipeline market, perhaps for as long as 20 years or more, is both exhilarating and frightening in some ways. Regardless, energy will be the hero of American economics for the foreseeable future.

But does energy get credit in the public eye? Unfortunately, no. We endlessly battle a perception that petrocarbons are evil which is simply a misguided fiction promulgated by environmental zealots and an administration/Senate preaching the gospel of saving our environment through alternative energy. Never mind the importance of oil derivatives embedded in virtually every fabric of our lives. Never mind that gas generates cheap energy with a low carbon footprint. Never mind that alternative energy technology is decades, maybe centuries, from being capable of realistically replacing carbon fuel. And never mind that alternative energy initiatives can rarely survive without significant government financial support.