HAVE YOU EVER thought about the energy you use during a typical day? My daily routine involves getting up early to read, work out and get ready for the day.
My work days are filled with traveling all over Hampton Roads, meetings, phone calls, events, answering email and writing. My evenings are packed with social events, dinners and time with family. It’s become routine — something that I, and probably you, don’t even think about.
Within that routine, however, is also something most of us take for granted.
The massive amounts of energy it takes to power our phones, appliances and cars would not be possible without one critical piece of infrastructure: the pipelines that transport natural gas to our homes and businesses.
They’re veins of energy that pump life into the state’s economy and fuel its industries and businesses. Simply put, energy is a necessary enabler for businesses to succeed.
By sustaining reliable and affordable energy, we maintain steady job growth, healthy state tax revenue, and attract and retain successful businesses — such as the 130 craft breweries located here in Virginia that use resources moved by pipeline to roast barley, power bottling equipment and fuel delivery trucks.
Without conventional energy and its accompanying pipeline infrastructure, many necessities would be at risk — like the electricity needed for defense-connected advanced manufacturing and the energy needed to run the Port and support the tourism industry — all of which are critical to our regional and state economy.
Contrary to a vocal minority, building new pipeline infrastructure will not harm our way of life here in Virginia. It can be done safely and with little environmental impact.
Furthermore, we would reap the tremendous benefits of the energy it brings. This is especially important as our state’s energy demand has increased by almost 16 percent, with 35 percent of that from electricity alone, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Energy is an essential enabler for business and a necessity for Virginia families who, according to the EIA, are currently spending $1,584 per year on energy; a price tag higher than the national average in an area where electricity is the most common heating fuel.
Why would we want to pay more? Especially if the energy we need and the infrastructure that supports it can be developed and transported safely.
A new pipeline reduces the amount of vehicles on the road, helping to decrease emissions and the chances of an accident or a spill. It also brings jobs to the state that can inject money back into the pocketbooks of families in our communities and the large and small businesses that make up our cities and towns.
It’s also one of the reasons we’ve continued to be No. 1 in the nation in advanced manufacturing for defense, home to thousands of companies with creative minds developing products used all over the world, and an energy sector filled with people that infused $18.3 billion into our economy last year.
We have an amazingly talented workforce full of ideas and mindful of our environment. They know a project that will bring cleaner-burning natural gas, safely, at affordable prices to our communities, is a good idea.
Because only more natural gas and pipelines — and you, supporting an energy buffet that keeps every available resource on the table — can bring the energy needed to power our electronic, digitalized routines each and every day.
This is an imperative to our business community and our quality of life. Let’s move forward so we can enjoy the countless attractions this state has to offer and enhance Virginia as a great place to live, work, run a business and raise a family.
Bryan K. Stephens is the president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.