January 2018, Vol. 245, No. 1


INGAA Leader Urges Industry to ‘Do a Better Job Telling Our Story’

Iroquois Pipeline Operating Co, President Jeff Bruner was recently elected as 2018 chairman of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA). During his 25-year career at Iroquois, he served as vice president, general counsel and secretary before being named president in 2013. Bruner is responsible for the 416-mile Iroquois interstate natural gas pipeline system that interconnects with TransCanada at the U.S.-Canada border at Waddington, NY and extends through New York state and western Connecticut. Bruner was previously with Transco. He is won the board of the Northeast Gas Association .

INGAA’s board also elected Bill Yardley, an Enbridge vice president and president of the company’s gas transmission and midstream group, as first vice chairman, and Stan Chapman, a TransCanada executive vice president and president of the company’s U.S. natural gas pipelines, as second vice chair.

The following remarks are excerpted from Bruner’s acceptance speech.

At INGAA, we must do our part to redirect the increasingly contentious fuels debate in our country. At one extreme are those who would say “no” to any proposed energy solution if the answer is not renewable energy. This is the so-called “keep it in the ground” movement. At the other end are those who promote government intervention to save fuels and technologies that are in decline due to the invisible hand of the market and technological innovation.

We must do our part to steer this national energy dialogue back in a pragmatic, positive direction in which we both continue our progress toward a cleaner energy economy and utilize the domestic energy abundance that offers so much promise for American consumers and our economy.

It is ironic that this debate is occurring at a time when the American people are benefiting from an energy abundance that was largely unforeseen little more than a decade ago. Because of this abundance, which has lowered home heating and electricity bills, American consumers now have more disposable income. American manufacturers now have a significant advantage over global competitors thanks to low-cost energy inputs.

We are generating electricity more efficiently and more cleanly because we have backed out older technologies and higher polluting sources of energy. We now have greater energy security than at any time in almost a half century. Think about it: 2018 will mark 45 years since the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo.

Natural gas is at the center of this American energy renaissance. So, too, are the pipelines operated by INGAA’s member companies. This pipeline infrastructure forms the essential link that makes it possible for American consumers and our economy to benefit from our domestic natural gas.

The catalysts for the shale revolution have been the combination of technology, entrepreneurship and market-oriented energy policies that encourage private capital investment. These same factors are making it possible for our nation to expand its ability to harness renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar power. These two drivers of our contemporary energy economy – natural gas and renewables – should be seen as complements, not as competitors.

Still, we must concede that these twin trends have triggered concerns. The United States’ re-emergence as an oil and gas giant has caused some to worry that our progress toward a clean energy economy will be frustrated and that current and future generations will be saddled with the environmental consequences that have characterized some of our legacy energy resources. While I understand these concerns, we can make a compelling case that natural gas will facilitate, rather than frustrate, our transition. We can, and we will, responsibly develop and utilize these energy resources.

Others worry that the rapid shift to generating electricity using more natural gas and renewable energy will degrade the reliability and resiliency of the power grid. The reliability and resiliency of the power grid is important to our nation’s economy and Americans’ health, welfare and way of life. It is legitimate to examine these questions and, if necessary, take steps to ensure that reliability and resiliency can be enhanced. The answer, however, is not to turn back the clock on how we generate electricity and how we regulate wholesale power markets.

As part of this energy dialogue, we in the natural gas value chain must do a better job telling our story. We must emphasize the multi-faceted benefits of natural gas throughout our economy, including its compatibility with renewable sources of energy. We must increase public awareness of the attributes of natural gas – a clean, reliable, affordable and domestically abundant fuel that has helped us reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 11% over the last 12 years at the same time as domestic production has increased by 50%.

I challenge the wide range of stakeholders in our national energy debate – including those who have a very different perspective on things – to join us in a positive, productive dialogue on these questions.

As I noted, interstate natural gas pipelines are the essential link that makes it possible for America to benefit from its natural gas. An important part of this is the process for siting these pipelines and obtaining the permits necessary to initiate their construction. While the framework for authorizing interstate natural gas pipelines is far superior to that for other forms of infrastructure, we must acknowledge that the system is not working as well as intended. The nation’s ability to enjoy fully the benefits of our domestic energy will be frustrated if this is not addressed.

This is, and should be, a federal matter because, by definition, these pipelines are engaged in interstate commerce. Interstate pipelines cross multiple states as they transport natural gas from where it is produced to where it is consumed. As with our interstate highway system, no one state should have the ability to deny another state and its consumers the benefits of this infrastructure.

Unfortunately, we are seeing the natural gas equivalent of a single state erecting a roadblock on the interstate highway system. We’ve seen a single state threaten to turn the process for approving interstate natural gas pipelines on its head by that state’s manipulation of delegated federal authority. It is a very worrisome development when a single state acting pursuant to a narrow, limited delegation of federal authority, can prevent construction of necessary pipeline infrastructure that has been fully reviewed and approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ( FERC) – an independent agency given the exclusive authority to approve such infrastructure.

I will work to preserve the integrity of our interstate pipeline permitting process. We will look for opportunities to improve the efficiency and predictability of the pipeline-permitting process while responding to the legitimate concerns expressed by landowners and others affected by pipeline development. We must ensure that no single state can prevent the construction of a pipeline once a project sponsor has obtained a certificate of public convenience and necessity after completing the comprehensive FERC review process.

Lastly, I would like to address the commitment by INGAA member companies to the safe and responsible construction and operation of our interstate pipeline facilities. As pipeline operators, we are trusted with the responsibility to ensure that our facilities are constructed and operated in a manner that protects the public and that uses processes and technologies that can best minimize the effect on natural resources. We take this responsibility very seriously.

In recognition of this, INGAA member companies have adopted commitments to safe and responsible construction practices that minimize the impacts to the communities in which we work. These commitments include employing safe and quality construction practices that focus on the safety of the public, our employees and contractors.

These commitments will also ensure that our pipelines are built to the highest quality standards while minimizing impacts to our natural resources. We respect the communities and landowners by using transparent and timely communication before, during and after construction. Our members respect the regulatory compact by embracing the federal, state and local processes that govern easement acquisition, certification, permitting, construction, operations and maintenance of our facilities.

This commitment also includes INGAA’s longstanding guiding principles for pipeline safety, which are anchored in a primary goal of zero incidents for the nation’s onshore natural gas transmission pipelines.

INGAA members also have worked diligently to guard against physical and cybersecurity threats. Our primary goal is to safeguard the well-being of every citizen living and working near our facilities. The second, broader goal, is to avoid or mitigate the consequences that an interruption of natural gas service could have on the thousands of individuals, businesses, industries and electric generators that rely directly or indirectly on the natural gas provided by our pipelines. Our efforts have been extensive and we continue to improve upon them.

As INGAA chairman, I will ensure that our members continue to focus on these commitments as we build and operate our facilities.

INGAA is committed to being part of a positive energy dialogue that focuses on continuing our progress toward a cleaner energy economy and using the domestic energy that offers so much promise for American consumers and our economy. Natural gas will play a central role on both counts, and pipelines will be an essential part of translating this promise into a reality.

It is important that we have an efficient, predictable and responsible process for authorizing new pipelines that serve a public need, and that we not permit narrow interests to triumph over the greater good. And, as part of honoring the public trust that has been placed in us, we, the pipeline operators, must make good on our commitments to the safe and responsible construction and operation of interstate pipeline facilities.

Related Articles


{{ error }}
{{ comment.comment.Name }} • {{ comment.timeAgo }}
{{ comment.comment.Text }}