“Keep it in the Ground” Activism Costs Economic Growth, Union Jobs

Environmental extremism that’s blocked or delayed key energy infrastructure projects has caused more than $90 billion in lost economic growth nationwide, according to a report released this week from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The first-of-its-kind analysis calculates the economic losses stemming from 15 critical energy infrastructure projects around the country that have been the target of extreme “Keep it in the Ground” environmental activism.

These enormous economic losses are directly shouldered by the hard-working men and women who safely construct the projects, including many in our region’s building trades. As Terry O’Sullivan, the General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America explained:

“LIUNA members have the skills, training, and experience to build pipelines, power plants and terminals in an environmentally sensitive manner, and in cases where projects are being stalled we are literally standing by, ready to work. The obstruction we’re seeing from activist groups is costing our members jobs and the entire country opportunities.

Nationwide, the “Infrastructure Lost – Why America Cannot Afford To ‘Keep It In the Ground” analysis concluded:

Pennsylvania and the Appalachian region has not been immune to this costly and harmful activism, either. Some specific projects highlighted in the report include:

  • Constitution Pipeline: The much-needed pipeline that would move Pennsylvania natural gas into New York for consumer use has been delayed for more than four years and represents a sunk cost of $925 million in investments. The economic cost to Pennsylvania of this activism: a loss of $3.9 billion in GDP and $930 million in lost tax revenue.
  • Northern Access Pipeline: The delay of this key project connecting abundant Pennsylvania supply with New York has resulted in $1.6 billion in lost GDP as well as $400 million lost in tax revenue. This is in addition to the $455 million invested into the project.
  • Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Key energy infrastructure project connecting the southeast with abundant, affordable natural gas faces similar legal challenges from extreme activists. The pipeline, when complete would result in $377 million in annual energy savings for consumers. Yet the project, and the $6.5 billion that have been invested in it, face an uncertain future due to extreme environmental activism. Delaying this project represents another $2.3 billion lost in GDP and $500 million in lost tax revenue.

As Karen Harbert, CEO of the Chamber’s Global Energy Institute commented:

“America’s newfound status as a global energy superpower has created opportunities here at home and around the world, but in order to harness our abundant natural resources and innovation, we must have adequate infrastructure. Unfortunately, a small but vocal group of activists is waging fights against these projects around the nation. Our new report demonstrates just how damaging that is to families, consumers, and American workers.”


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