An active FERC could achieve a win-win-win

Blog Post

President Donald Trump has appointed, the Senate has confirmed, and now the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is open for business approving new pipeline projects. New natural gas pipelines are critical to addressing supply imbalances that are creating economic hardship.

In an editorial last week, the Wall Street Journal noted that energy costs in the Northeast are already the highest in the nation outside of Alaska and Hawaii - and that Northeast residents pay 29 percent more for natural gas and 44 percent more for electricity than the U.S. average. Industrial users pay twice as much for natural gas and 62 percent more for electricity, which is why manufacturing is declining in the Northeast and growing in the natural gas rich Midwest.


In the face of these energy challenges, in 2015 Gov. Andrew Cuomo made permanent a ban on fracking in New York. He has also since embraced a goal of receiving 50 percent of New York’s electricity from renewable energy, failed to support the continued operations of New York's nuclear fleet, and has attempted to block the 120 mile constitution pipeline, which would transport cheap natural gas from Pennsylvania to upstate New York and New England. (This opinion piece in the Albany Times Union adds additional color to New York's energy challenge.)

From the WSJ:

"Due to pipeline constraints . . . Boston imports liquefied natural gas during the winter from Trinidad [incredible. ] This is expensive and emits boatloads of carbon. Speaking of which, about a quarter of households in New York, 45% in Vermont and 65% in Maine still burn heating oil—which is a third more expensive than natural gas and produces about 30% more carbon emissions per million Btu. Yet many can't switch due to insufficient natural gas and pipeline infrastructure. Mr. Cuomo's natural gas blockade is harming residents and businesses throughout the Northeast while raising carbon emissions that he claims are imperiling the planet."

Boston is shipping liquefied natural gas 2,266 miles from Trinidad! A 2009 article reports that in one year, one giant cargo ship can emit the same amount of sulfur as 50 million cars . This is taking place while there is an abundance of cheap natural gas in the U.S. less than 500 miles away that could be obtained through pipelines – all with a dramatically smaller carbon footprint.  Once received, this local natural gas could replace fuel oil which burns dirtier and is more expensive. There is the potential here for a win- win-win scenario. By constructing a pipeline already approved by FERC, U.S. producers can access an underserved market, Northeast consumers can obtain cheaper electricity, and the U.S. carbon footprint can be reduced - let's do it!

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