Massachusetts’ NIMBY approach to energy is jeopardizing the environment globally

Blog Post
Earlier this month, I wrote a blog regarding Massachusetts’ refusal to fulfill their energy needs from domestic sources, instead of threatening the environment by importing U.S.-sanctioned Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG). 

Last week, the Boston Globe’s editorial board doubled down on the foolishness of this policy and took a more in-depth look at the harm it poses for the environment: 

“To build the new $27 billion gas export plant on the Arctic Ocean that now keeps the lights on in Massachusetts, Russian firms bored wells into fragile permafrost; blasted a new international airport into a pristine landscape of reindeer, polar bears, and walrus; dredged the spawning grounds of the endangered Siberian sturgeon in the Gulf of Ob to accommodate large ships; and commissioned a fleet of 1,000-foot icebreaking tankers likely to kill seals and disrupt whale habitat as they shuttle cargoes of super-cooled gas.”

Despite Massachusetts publicly stating commitment to the environment, their actions speak a different tune. How does importing sanctioned oil from Russia and expecting residents of Russia, Yemen and other locations to bear the environmental burden to heat Massachusetts homes fit the environmentalist slogan of thinking globally but acting locally?

The frustration elected officials and environmental advocates have regarding the slow pace of the federal government on cleaner energy and greenhouse gas emissions is understandable. But the obsession to reject domestic pipelines and disregard of the type of fuel they consume has ramifications for the environment. 

LNG actually creates more emissions than shale natural gas due to the process of cooling the gas to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit, and the shipping and regasifying it requires more energy. “The bottom line is that because of the nature of the liquefaction process, LNG is fairly carbon intensive, stated Gavin Law, the head of gas, LNG and carbon consulting for the energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

Furthermore, Massachusetts native and President Barack Obama’s secretary of energy Ernest J. Moniz, stated “Natural gas has shown itself to be an important bridge to a clean energy future. For New England, expanding the pipeline capacity from the Marcellus [Shale] makes sense.” He would also go on to say the “Life cycle emissions for LNG imports to Boston certainly are higher than they would be for more Marcellus gas.” 

As I stated in another blog titled “4 unappreciated truths about natural gas,” while shale natural gas may still be in its early stages of development, it is already cheaper per BTU than any nonrenewable fuel. And it is the first fuel that is readily available on demand, substantially lowers the country’s footprint and is historically cheap. Also, beyond that, our domestic natural gas industry is leading the economic recovery in the U.S. and leading us to energy independence, all of which Massachusetts is isolating themselves from being a part of.   

It is time for Massachusetts to stop ignoring not only the geopolitical impact but the effects their reliance on Russian LNG has on the environment, natural habitats for many species of animals and the harm on indigenous people. With the newest Russian shipment already anchored in Massachusetts, it is time for the state to live up to their commitment to lower their carbon footprint by rejecting their current NIMBY policy and welcome the affordable domestic gas from regions such as the Marcellus and Utica Shales. 

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