An Energy Crisis

New England may face one this winter. Too many who should know better are laying this prospect off to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There are more proximate origins of the risk. One is the Biden administration’s naked war on our nation’s overall domestic energy production industry, including canceling pipeline projects in progress and denying permits for other pipelines—including one from Canada down into New England—canceling drilling leases and slow-walking permits (or outright denying them) to drill on other leases, withdrawing Federal lands from any sort of fossil fuel exploration or development, and on and on.

But that is only backdrop, and corrections to those failures would have no immediate effect on New England’s risk.

A more immediate origin is the domestic blockade of energy to New England, which consists of two barriers. One is ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D) decision to block a natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New England, a pipeline that would have transited New York, coupled with Cuomo’s decision to deny development from within New York of the Marcellus Formation, a shale formation rich in, among other things, natural gas. These decisions have been upheld, and enthusiastically so, by current New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D). New England’s energy needs be damned.

The other barrier from the blockade is the Jones Act, a century-old law that in pertinent part mandates that goods (for instance, oil and natural gas) carried from one American port (vis., a Gulf Coast refinery) to another American port (vis., Portsmouth, NH, or Portland, ME) must be via an American freighter.

These barriers already have combined to force New England to buy its natural gas from…Russia. Which is the only way the barbarian’s invasion of Ukraine enters into the problem at all.

Immediate and mid-term solutions should be obvious: waive the Jones Act restrictions on energy shipments into New England, something well within the authority of President Joe Biden (D). Given the state of American ship building capacity, this cabotage aspect of the Act should be rescinded altogether, but that would require Congress to do.

Another, more mid-term, solution would be for New York to get out of the way of exploitation of Marcellus and to allow pipeline shipments of natural gas into New England from Pennsylvania. That, though, will require replacement of the Progressive-Democratic Party-run State government with a more balanced and Conservative and Republican Party-run government.

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