May 20, 2022

Senator Manchin Makes False Statements Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Gas Crisis

Politicians continually side with fossil fuel companies and perpetuate false narratives about pipeline infrastructure. We saw this with Senator Joe Manchin’s recent statement on the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Wild Virginia hosted Lorne Stockman, Research Director at Oil Change International to bust some of these myths and misconceptions.

  • General misconceptions about pipelines you’ve heard from the public, and which ones industry tries to perpetuate.

I think there are many myths pedaled by industry about the benefits of pipelines, as well as the downplaying of the costs. The myths that we have focused on have been primarily about the perceived need for a new pipeline, and the idea that emissions caused by burning the oil or gas delivered by a new pipeline will happen whether the pipeline was built or not. 

  • Misleading stories from politicians on the need for new pipeline sources?

I think the most important one to talk about today is Senator Joe Manchin’s recent statement that Mountain Valley Pipeline is of national strategic importance and that it’ll somehow help the US support Europe in its efforts to move away from Russian gas. This statement from Senator Manchin is false on so many levels. 

First, Europe’s prime response to the energy crunch triggered by the war is to accelerate its transition away from fossil fuels. It has raised its targets for renewable energy and brought forward dates for achieving these. While it is looking for gas supplies to replace Russian gas in the short term, it has made clear that it is not looking for a long term commitment to more gas, and this is in recognition of the need to reduce gas use for climate goals as well as for energy security goals. 

Second, even if Europe was ready to commit to additional US gas in the long-term, Mountain Valley Pipeline does nothing to enhance the availability of gas for export to Europe. While Mountain Valley Pipeline could be connected to pipeline networks that could feed LNG export terminals on the Gulf Coast, these export facilities are not constrained by the availability of gas.

So I think what Senator Manchin needs to realize is that Mountain Valley Pipeline is not the solution to whatever energy crisis arises in any part of the world. It’s not the solution to the south-east’s coal power problem and it’s not the solution to Europe’s Russian energy crisis. It was a bad idea to begin with and it’s still a bad idea. Reliable, clean renewable energy that is not based on globally traded fuel supplies is the answer (and should be the Senator’s answer) to both of these issues.

  • Energy moving in the right direction – to more sustainable sources over coal.

In the next couple of years, we’re going to see RE displace not only coal but gas as well in US power generation. Coal plants and gas plants are going to produce less because cheaper RE will make it less economic to run these plants. We are going to see progress in energy storage, and, we’re going to see an offshore wind industry emerge along the eastern seaboard creating tens of thousands of jobs and adding a source of renewable energy that has tremendous potential for providing enormous quantities of clean energy. The US is 20 years behind Europe in offshore wind. 20 years wasted pursuing fracking and all the destruction and pollution it caused. We must make up for lost time and support offshore wind as much as possible. The north east is doing this by setting ambitious targets. Virginia and the Carolinas need to step up and do the same. 

  • What’s next for US states to help better meet climate goals? What can pipeline fighters and other advocates do?

I think what pipeline fighters in Virginia and North Carolina have done is remarkable. They have gone after every permit, shown up at every hearing, and left no stone unturned. It’s amazing. We need to keep that up to finally kill Mountain Valley Pipeline. Beyond that, we need to keep pushing the states to set more ambitious targets for clean energy and reducing fossil fuel use. The transition requires a stable policy environment with clear short, medium and long term goals. Where you have that you see money flowing in, creating jobs and change happening. South eastern states can be a lot more aggressive on offshore wind for example. North eastern states have set ambitious targets calling for tens of gigawatts of offshore wind capacity. Virginia and North Carolina have much lower targets and see less investment. We just saw the federal government pull in $4.3 billion for offshore wind leases of the New York bight because the nearby states have big targets for using that wind energy.

So, join us, and contact your Senator today. Read Oil Change International’s report, US Oil and Gas Companies Set to Make Tens of Billions More from Wartime Oil Prices in 2022, here.