By David Spigelmyer
While Americans across the country benefit from energy savings tied to greater domestic production, consumers in one of our nation’s most densely populated regions remain energy starved because of misguided, dangerous policies. Lacking modern infrastructure access to Marcellus Shale production, millions of New Englanders continue to face skyrocketing costs and the prospect of rolling blackouts.
Make no mistake, thanks to shale development, America’s energy outlook has positively changed — from a position of scarcity to one of abundance and security. The tip of the spear is close by in Pennsylvania, where companies produce a quarter of the nation’s natural gas demand, driving energy savings and significant air-quality improvements.
According to a recent University of Pennsylvania analysis, natural gas development has saved consumers a bundle, driving down home heating costs 40 percent compared with a decade ago. As clean-burning natural gas contributes a larger share of power generation, electricity prices have plummeted too.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with others closely aligned with the radical “Keep It in the Ground” movement, has blocked key energy infrastructure projects, ensuring consumers throughout New England will continue to be starved of the energy they need when they need it most.
Projects like the Millennium and Constitution pipelines, which are thoroughly vetted and would be built to the highest safety standards by skilled building trades union members, have been denied New York state permits, severely delaying and even blocking key pathways to more affordable and domestic natural gas.
Rather than turning to reliable resources just a few states away, New England’s demand, as a result, is largely met through importing natural gas from the Caribbean. With New England relying on natural gas to produce half of the region’s electricity, according to the Department of Energy, an overreliance on imported fuel results in shortages and severe price spikes during high-demand periods.
The impact of these politically motivated decisions came to bear during last month’s “Bomb Cyclone.” The deep freeze triggered a 60-fold surge in the price for natural gas in the New England region, as families turned up the heat to stay warm during the arctic blast.
As natural gas prices topped $175 per million British thermal unit (MMBtu) in New York, setting a North American record, natural gas prices for Pennsylvania’s in-state utilities stayed less than $5 per MMBtu.
Concerns around energy security, reliability, and affordability for millions of Americans is a worrisome trend. ISO New England — an independent, nonprofit organization responsible for the reliable operation of the region’s power grid — warned in a new report that the region will face rolling blackouts and outages during peak times if gas infrastructure constraints are not addressed.
And it’s not just consumers who suffer from the lack of adequate energy infrastructure. America’s energy security is threatened as well. A cargo ship loaded with Russian liquefied natural gas — sent through France from a Russian company under U.S. sanctions — docked in Boston harbor recently, marking the first import of Russian natural gas to this country.
Forcing New Englanders to use imported Russian natural gas, when America is awash in energy abundance, sets a dangerous precedent that we should be working together to avoid.
Clean, abundant Marcellus Shale gas is the solution to New England’s energy woes. Without modern, efficient infrastructure, New Englanders will continue to suffer the consequences of radical, outside-the-mainstream policies pursued by fringe activists and allied politicians.
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