Natural gas and oil delivered by pipeline make our modern lives possible.
Pipelines benefit communities by providing fuel, jobs, and tens of millions of dollars in state and local tax revenue that supports schools, roads and first responders. Importantly, pipeline operators and their employees are part of the communities they serve, regularly volunteering and supporting local organizations.
Additionally, the ability to safely and efficiently transport carbon dioxide and hydrogen is critical for the energy transition into a low-carbon future. Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) allows energy producers to help reduce CO2 emissions from facilities, by separating carbon dioxide from flue gases and process it for safe transport. Pipelines transport captured CO2 to a safe storage site to be injected deep underground into saline formations or depleted reservoirs where it can remain permanently separated from the atmosphere. CO2 can also be transported to a manufacturing facility for use in other products or utilized for enhanced oil recovery.
Hydrogen is also playing an increasingly large role in our energy transition, including as a transportation fuel for cars, trucks, and buses. Green hydrogen is produced from renewables with electrolysis whereas blue hydrogen comes from natural gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS). Together, these low-carbon hydrogen technologies can play a significant role in hard-to-abate and hard-to-electrify sectors. Reliable pipeline and storage infrastructure will continue to play a critical role in transporting both carbon dioxide and hydrogen as demand for low-carbon solutions grows. To date there are over 1,600 miles of dedicated pure hydrogen pipelines in the U.S., yet more is needed to scale the market and help reduce emissions.
Pipelines reliably and affordably transport energy products produced here in the U.S., cutting energy costs for companies and small businesses across our country. In fact, increased U.S. energy production, combined with our country’s pipeline network and refining capacity, have made U.S. again attractive to manufacturers and industrial consumers.
CCUS captures CO2 from manufacturing facilities as well as production sites to reduce the amount of emissions that reach the atmosphere while maintaining critical energy development. Low-carbon hydrogen can be used in heavy industries such as chemical production and steel manufacturing, as a fuel and a feedstock, to reduce emissions from traditional energy sources. Today, most hydrogen is consumed as a feedstock in developing finished products in refining like gasoline and jet fuel, in industrial sectors such iron and steel production and in chemical production for ammonia and methanol. Hydrogen enables refineries to remove impurities from crude oil and upgrade heavy oil into lighter, refined products.
In 2009, Virginia manufacturer Mohawk Industries alerted county officials it would need to reduce energy costs or relocate to Alabama. Instead, the company opened a natural gas distribution line from a nearby transmission line, retaining the 150-plus employees in Virginia and allowing Mohawk to attract two other companies with a total of 255 employees. Mohawk’s distribution line helped Carroll County provide increased natural gas to other industries and attract additional companies, keeping the local economy moving.
Pipelines also transport valuable energy sources that heat our homes. In Michigan, one in ten state residents rely on propane, kerosene or fuel oil as their primary heating source, making the Great Lakes State the largest consumer of propane as a home heating fuel. In neighboring Minnesota, twice as many state residents use propane to heat their homes compared to the national average, transported via pipeline to rural communities across the state.
Rural communities depend upon pipelines to heat their homes and run their farms. Farmers use oil and natural gas products as fuel for farm vehicles, equipment, and electricity production at farm co-ops. Additionally, farmers use propane to dry their grain after harvest, reducing crop loss, adding harvest flexibility and improving yields through earlier harvest. Hydrogen is a key source for the production of ammonia, which in turn is used to produce nitrogen-based fertilizers for farms. Today, nearly two-thirds of industrial hydrogen demand worldwide goes towards the production of ammonia for fertilizer along with explosives and synthetic fibers. Ethanol manufacturers are also increasingly adopting carbon capture, utilization and storage when transforming corn into energy, a process that could also lead to net-CO2 negative fuel sources. Farming communities also rely heavily on oil and gas products in pesticides and fertilizer, which accounts for roughly 50% of indirect energy use on U.S. farms.
Livestock operations use propane to heat their barns and keep livestock warm throughout the winter. Minnesotan family farmers rely on propane transported by pipeline to provide stable temperatures during cold winter months to raise nearly 45 million turkeys each year, helping to ensure turkeys on the table for our Thanksgiving meals!