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Prevailing Wage Mandate for Jefferson County, OH Road Construction Is Latest Positive Effect of the Shale Boom

In Stubenville, Ohio a road maintenance agreement has been signed between Enterprise Liquids Pipeline and Jefferson County that will mandate prevailing wages on all road work stemming from construction of a liquid ethane pipeline. This pipeline will bring natural gas produced in Pennsylvania and Ohio to Texas for refinement.

Liquid ethane is being produced from the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations and a large pipeline is being constructed that will eventually stretch from Appalachia to Texas. In many towns, such as Steubenville, part of the deal made with gas companies is that road repairs and maintenance must be performed on roads used to transport equipment and goods. So far, these companies have displayed a spotty record in terms of worker protections having set a precedent of cheap, out-of-state labor. This is not a trend Jefferson County is willing to fall in line with.

Lobbied by the Laborers International Union of America (LiUNA), County Engineer James Branagan noted that the worker-supportive opinion had come down from the Ohio Attorney General’s office. Work done by private companies on public roads must pay prevailing wage rates. Local laborers had complained that work done by out of state laborers on county and township roads unfairly took jobs away from them.

The pipeline will begin south of Pittsburgh in Washington County, PA and extend westward through Ohio, eventually pumping liquid ethane to ethelyne manufacturing plants in Texas and Louisiana. It is part of the wave of hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale that has the U.S. on course to very shortly reach new highs in terms of energy production. This boom is expected to bring extra traffic and stress to outdated roads throughout the region, something the gas companies are often required to repair. Now that construction wages are protected the positive effects of this natural gas boom extend even further than gas prices and drilling jobs.


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