Appalachian Basin

Russian LNG or Pipelines for New England? Massachusetts AG Picks Russia

“Keep It In the Ground” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) admitted this week that she’d rather import natural gas from Russia (because climate) than build new pipelines to deliver the abundant supply of Marcellus Shale gas to New Englanders. As E&E News reported on Wednesday:

“Yet many policymakers in the deep-blue region are dead-set against any new gas pipelines, saying that the priority needs to be scaling up renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuels. Buying occasional shipments of LNG in the winter, they argue, is the better way to go.

’LNG is a more efficient and economical way to meet energy needs during instances of high winter demand than building high-risk and costly pipelines that are not needed to maintain reliability,’ Chloe Gotsis, a spokeswoman for Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D), said by email. ‘Continuing to rely on pipelines is too risky for ratepayers and our climate.’” (emphasis added)

Healey, who is also one of the AGs spearheading the #ExxonKnew litigation, has been so vocally opposed to adding needed pipeline infrastructure in New England that the Boston Globe recently said she and other policy makers have “leaned heavily on righteous-sounding stands against local fossil fuel projects, with scant consideration of the global impacts of their actions and a tacit expectation that some other country will build the infrastructure that we’re too good for.”  As the Daily Caller reports,

“Healey has used her office to block pipeline projects energy experts say are needed to relieve supply constraints in New England. The region’s grid operator recently warned that shuttering coal and nuclear power plants will only exacerbate energy security woes.

“A recent ISO New England study found the region ‘could be headed for significant levels of emergency actions, particularly during major fuel or resource outages.’ Recent cold snaps have sent electricity prices surging and forced power plants to burn more oil and coal.” (emphasis added)

As for Healey’s claim that importing LNG is “more efficient and economical” and that using pipelines is “too risky” for both consumers and the climate – well, as the Daily Caller explained, that’s just flat wrong.

  • FACT: New England had the highest energy costs in the world this winter. Meanwhile, the rest of America is experiencing record low electricity and natural gas costs.
  • FACT: The climate benefits of natural gas are undeniable. Methane leakage rates are far below the threshold for natural gas to maintain its climate benefits over other major fuels, and the switch to natural gas has helped the United States lead the world in decreasing carbon emissions to decades-low levels.
  • FACT: During the cold snap, ISO New England not only had to import LNG that included gas from Russia, but had to re-activate higher emitting power plants to maintain grid reliability.
  • FACT: Pipelines are a safe, efficient way to transport natural gas. The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) credits the fact that most Americans are not even aware of their proximity to the more than 2.5 million miles of U.S. pipelines to the “strong safety record of pipelines.” PHMSA explains that the “the most feasible, most reliable and safest way” to transport oil and natural gas is through pipelines.

This “Keep It In The Ground” strategy in New England has resulted in a very real energy infrastructure problem, no matter what folks like AG Healey say. The Massachusetts Congressional delegation tried to blame this infrastructure problem on the White House, but the reality is it’s been an ongoing issue that Healey and fellow policy makers have been at the center of thwarting efforts by elected officials like Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker. As E&E News reports:

“But the Baker administration also wanted to include measures to expand natural gas capacity, seeing gas as a way to support renewables and keep overall energy costs down.

“‘When you look at the overall dynamic, the overwhelming majority opinion that states [sic] we are in desperate need of more natural gas capacity on some level, to address our baseline needs,’ Matthew Beaton, Baker’s energy and environmental affairs secretary, said in a May 2016 hearing. He warned against reliance on LNG. ‘To become reliant on that international market to balance our energy needs is an economically irresponsible approach to do it solely in that regard.’”

As the facts show, it is a completely contradictory agenda to push KIITG policy in the name of saving the climate or keeping rates low. New England is the prime example of this, as EID’s latest infographic shows.

2 Comments
  • Randy Verret
    Posted at 11:11h, 22 March Reply

    I actually think this New England debate is a worthwhile exercise over the next few years. It may ultimately serve as a needed “catalyst.” We, as a nation, are LONG overdue for (finally) a robust & fact driven discussion about REAL energy alternatives & formulating a coherent national energy strategy. So, I say let them just dig themselves into an ever growing hole. In five years when citizens of the NE region have electricity rates that rival GERMANY (three times U.S average), are plagued with reliability issues (i.e. rolling blackouts) and their GHG totals are continuing to embarrassingly RISE compared to the rest of our country, THEY will have no one to BLAME than their short-sighted political leaders. Unlike most other cases, let’s also not forget to include ALL the environmental activists and NGO’s in that STEW. Let them WEAR IT. Realistically, we will be transitioning away from fossil fuels as our primary energy sources for base load electricity generation & transportation fuels for the rest of this century. That challenge will be met through PHYSICS & technology, NOT vilification, lack of constructive solutions and especially “drama & theater.” So, you if the NE region continues playing this ongoing “script,” you’ll get the film you richly deserve…I’d say that title is “Ishtar”…

  • Stephen Heins
    Posted at 14:21h, 22 March Reply

    Another great piece, stuffed full of great information!

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