Isaac Orr talks energy on Republican Roundtable
I recently appeared on the Republican Roundtable, a public access television program that appears on stations in the Twin Cities, to discuss the state of energy policy in Minnesota as…
Renewable energy groups like Fresh Energy are encouraging the City of Minneapolis to follow the precedent set by the City of Berkeley in California by banning natural gas in new construction within the City to limit carbon dioxide emissions. This would be an incredibly bad idea, as liberal State Senators in New York, which has banned fracking for natural gas and opposed natural gas pipelines, are now finding out.
It appears reality is crashing down on liberal elected officials in the Empire state, where the natural gas shortages they caused are threatening public safety and the state’s economic growth. According to an article in the New York Post:
“A gas shortage threatens the Long Island region,” bleat six Long Island state senators, all Democrats, in a letter pleading for approval of a pipeline proposed to fix the problem — belatedly admitting that the policies they’ve long favored don’t work for their own constituents.
This year, Sens. Todd Kaminsky, John Brooks, James Gaughran, Anna Kaplan, Monica Martinez and Kevin Thomas all voted for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Green New Deal law, whose very purpose is to further crimp energy supplies, and for a $100 million hike in taxes on energy.
And, as Senate GOP leader John Flanagan (their fellow Long Islander) notes, all were AWOL when the Williams pipeline was up for consideration by the state Department of Environmental Conservation — which recently issued a pseudo-scientific veto of the project.
Or maybe anti-scientific is the right word: The DEC pretends the Williams pipeline is a threat to water quality. But it would run under New York Harbor roughly parallel to an existing pipeline (now at capacity).
The “lack of a reliable future natural-gas supply has the potential to upend the lives . . . halt economic development, and adversely result in the use of dirtier forms of energy,” the Democrats write in begging for “emergency” approval of the pipeline.
Of course it does. But the Long Island Six, like most New York Democratic electeds, have long pretended otherwise.
Kaminsky, for example, chairs the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, and sponsored a recent bill to “prohibit oil- and natural-gas drilling in New York’s coastal area” and “restrict the power of . . . corporations to develop pipelines associated with the delivery of natural gas or oil” in or even near the state.
Never mind that National Grid, the utility for the area, warned this summer that it was unable to deliver more natural gas to Long Island unless the state OK’d the pipeline, and specifically said it would have to stop taking new customers.
Democrats from Cuomo on down treated that as a bluff, or a threat — and then turned around and blamed the utility when it followed through.
But now Winter Is Coming. The Democratic county executives of Nassau and Suffolk have belatedly called for the pipeline to go through, and joined the business community in pleading for support of the six senators.
Hence their belated plea for approval of the pipeline: “National Grid’s moratorium has already impacted thousands of our constituents,” they complain — as if their own policies hadn’t forced the moratorium.
But just this one. “This is the last gas pipeline that will merit your review as our state transitions to a renewable-energy economy,” they write. Guess any other part of New York (like Westchester) that faces similar issues is just plumb out of luck.
What a pathetic pack of hypocrites.”
The sentence “this is the last gas pipeline that will merit your review as our state transitions to a renewable-energy economy,” sounds very similar to the comments made by MPR’s climate reporter during last winter’s polar vortex, where she argued the natural gas shortage that forced Xcel Energy to shut off natural gas service to 181 Minnesota families and businesses when the temperature was -29 degrees F, would not be such a big deal in the future because electricity generated by wind turbines would be able to heat homes in the future.
This argument is flat out wrong, because wind turbines were shut down during the cold blast because the turbines cannot operate at temperatures below – 20 degrees F, and they cannot be depended upon to operate, anyway, because they are weather-dependent resources. Relying on such flawed logic for our energy system would threaten the safety of the families in these households and cause enormous property damage if water pipes freeze and burst.
Wind and solar groups often malign clean-burning natural gas, but the objective fact of the matter is that natural gas is an unqualified positive for Minnesota families and consumers because its provides heating more affordably and more reliably than electricity generated with weather-dependent energy sources like wind and solar ever could.
In fact, natural gas is nearly five times less costly than electricity, on an energy equivalent basis.
Simply put, when it comes to home heating, natural gas is simply the best tool for the job. Banning natural gas in new construction will drive up heating costs and make it more difficult for the City of Minneapolis to achieve other goals like providing affordable housing.
As I stated yesterday, local governments exist to solve local problems. As local governments lose sight of this primary responsibility in order to address perceived global problems, they impose enormous costs on the people they are supposed to serve for no measurable environmental benefits.
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