KIITG Senators Warm Up to Natural Gas Amid Cold Winter
A group of U.S. Senators who regularly push “Keep It In the Ground” policies that would restrict domestic natural gas production and seek to block pipelines and other natural gas infrastructure have made a complete 180 degree turn as the nation plunges into freezing weather and prices elevate.
New England has been in a bad way in winter for some time. The cancellation and delays on key energy pipeline projects have caused energy prices to skyrocket in winter, forcing utilities to use fuel oil and coal and import natural gas from around the world – even that one time from Russia – to keep the lights and heat on.
In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported this week that New England’s benchmark natural gas prices have reached highs not seen since 2014 as a result of cold weather and constrained supplies.
This prompted several lawmakers from New England and the midwest, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey to send a letter this week to U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm urging the administration to “take swift action to limit U.S. natural gas exports and examine their impact on domestic energy prices.”
Bloomberg’s Javier Blas reports:
The letter is a political stun that I hope the White House will appropriately file in the garbage can. Yet, it’s a good reminder that ahead of the U.S. mid-term elections, energy / inflation is going to be a key topic, and unpredictable stuff may happen if prices rise high enough
— Javier Blas (@JavierBlas) February 2, 2022
Why does Blas call the letter “baffling, to put it mildly”? Because all of these senators have pushed policies that have had major impacts on domestic energy prices which are harming New England residents.
During her presidential campaign, Warren explicitly said she would block natural gas development if elected to the White House:
On my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that puts a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands. And I will ban fracking—everywhere.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) September 6, 2019
And several years before her presidential run, she wrote an op-ed seeking to stop the construction of a pipeline that would carry natural gas to New England:
“Before we sink more money in gas infrastructure, we have an obligation wherever possible to focus our investments on the clean technologies of the future — not the dirty fuels of the past — and to minimize the environmental impact of all our energy infrastructure projects. We can do better — and we should.”
Markey, along with Warren, have also opposed the Algonquin pipeline that would bring natural gas into Massachusetts.
Markey is also a chief co-author of the Green New Deal, which calls for “100 percent of the power demand in the United States” to come from renewables – an incredibly unrealistic timeline, but which sends a message that companies should stop investing in natural gas infrastructure today.
It’s for these reasons that Bloomberg’s Blas called the letter “a stunt” that should be tossed in the “garbage can.”
This letter is a good reminder of the remarks made by LIUNA President Terry O’Sullivan in 2014 in response to comments on one such critical project from Warren and Markey that seem to still hold true today:
“While the Senators say they are looking out for the good of Massachusetts, they seem to be taking their marching orders from environmental extremists. If they are going to talk about what’s good for their state and the nation, they should first take a walk in the real world of their constituents and get back in touch with reality.”