This article is appropriately timed as President Trump is on the cusp of issuing executive orders aimed at making it difficult for states to block gas pipelines.
To force a transition away from natural gas, New England policymakers have blocked construction of new gas pipelines. The Constitution Pipeline, a project to bring gas from the shale fields in Pennsylvania to the pipeline network in Schoharie County, NY, is one of many examples. This pipeline continues to be stalled after receiving a construction permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2014.
In opposing the Constitution Pipeline, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office stated, “…we will not relent in our fight to protect our environment and ensure a cleaner, healthier future…New York is stepping up for the future of our planet, our economy, and our children.”
Because of insufficient gas pipeline capacity, New England now faces critical shortages. In January, utility Con Edison announced a moratorium on new natural gas customers in Westchester County, New York. That same month, Holyoke Gas & Electric of Massachusetts also announced that it can no longer accept new natural gas service requests due to a lack of supply.
New England residents pay high prices for heating and electricity, particularly in winter months. Shortages during weeks of severe cold push residential gas prices up by as much as 400 percent. Power plants are forced to use expensive oil fuel, with gas reserved for home heating. Oil provided almost one-quarter of New England’s electricity during the severe cold at the end of December, 2017.
New England policies contrast sharply with those of most of the country. US natural gas main and service distribution pipelines grew 80 percent from 1984 to 2016 and continue to expand in most states.
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