PoliZette

Closed Enviro Minds Lead Massachusetts to Buy Russian Gas

Despite abundant U.S. production, absence of pipelines forces Bay State residents to depend on energy imported from Siberia during high demand periods

Democrats for two years have described Russia as America’s biggest threat, but that has not stopped one of the bluest states to import energy from a Russian company under sanction.

According to a report last week by E&E News, two tankers carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) from a facility majority owned by Yamal LNG have made deliveries to Massachusetts this year after cold snaps caused demand to surge.

The deliveries did not violate sanctions designed to punish Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because the natural gas had been comingled with other energy product in Britain before coming to the United States.

But the optics are not good considering Democrats have bashed President Donald Trump since he took the oath of office for not doing enough to combat 2016 Russian election meddling.

“It’s a little bit unsettling, given what’s been going on and that people in Massachusetts aren’t more concerned about it,” said Jordan McGillis, a policy analyst at the Institute for Energy Research (IER).

The Russian-backed news operation RT even tweaked America over the shipments, tweeting, “Sanctions? What sanctions?”

McGillis told LifeZette that buying LNG from Yamal is “essentially rewarding the Russian state for its conduct.” Part of the propaganda campaign carried out by Russian agents, he added, has sought to discourage American energy production and transmission projects in order to necessitate the importation of foreign energy.

“And the result is we’re importing gas from Russia,” he said.

McGillis said the energy shortage in New England is completely man-made. New York has rejected a water quality permit that would allow a pipeline to connect the Marcellus Shale field in northeastern Pennsylvania to Massachusetts and other New England states.

McGillis said the Jones Act, which requires all ships carrying products from one American port to another to be American-flagged, makes it prohibitively expensive to ship LNG to New England from other parts of the country.

The Democratic attorney general of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, has enthusiastically supported New York’s efforts.

“LNG is a more efficient and economical way to meet energy needs during instances of high winter demand than building high-risk and costly pipelines that are not needed to maintain reliability,” the attorney general’s spokeswoman, Chloe Gotsis, told E&E News. “Continuing to rely on pipelines is too risky for ratepayers and our climate.”

Healey’s office argued in 2015 that it had research showing that the region could run the electrical grid reliably and economically without any new pipelines, according to Energywire.

Thomas Richard, a Massachusetts resident who runs Climate Change Dispatch — which challenges mainstream global warming theories — ridiculed that analysis.

“We wouldn’t be importing LNG from Russia if we had enough capacity,” he told LifeZette.

ISO New England projected last month that a cold winter by 2024/2025 would force rolling blackouts in 19 of 23 scenarios considered.

The reason Massachusetts is so dependent on gas is also due to policy decisions, McGillis said. He noted that Massachusetts and other New England states have targets for reducing carbon emissions. The Bay State has mandated that a certain percentage of energy come from solar, wind and other renewable resources.

But when those sources cannot provide all of the power that the state needs, it must turn to alternative options, such as cleaner-burning natural gas. McGillis noted that America never has produced more energy. The country, in fact, is now a net exporter of natural gas.

“We live in the most energy-abundant era in history,” he said. “It is a tragedy that New England is facing this because of public policy.”

Richard said extreme environmental policies are jeopardizing reliable and affordable energy.

“There’s like a cadre of blue states making it impossible to keep up with demand during this particularly harsh winter,” he said.

McGillis said the stance of Massachusetts makes little standpoint from an environmental standpoint, either. Lowering the temperature of natural gas to supercool levels in order to be able to ship it on tankers is an energy-intensive proposition. It is far more damaging to the climate than sending gas through pipelines, he said.

“If you’re concerned about greenhouse gas emissions alone, that’s no way you should be in favor of this method that’s being used right now,” he said.

The Boston Globe made the same point in an editorial last month, noting that the Russian LNG plant in the Arctic Circle requires boring into fragile permafrost and threatens habitat for reindeer, polar bears, walruses, and the endangered Siberian sturgeon.

“From a planetary perspective, it doesn’t matter where those emissions occur: Whether from the plant in Yamal, or the power plant in Everett, they have the same impact,” the editorial states. “The science should make the state’s decisions straightforward.”

Said Richard: “The Boston Globe, which is not exactly a right-wing rag.”

Related: A Modest Proposal to Help Protect America’s Energy Grid Reliability

The attorney general ignores global considerations. “It’s like Maura Healey thinks Massachusetts is in a dome that won’t emit anything,” he said.

J. Michael Waller, senior vice president for government affairs at the Center for Security Policy, said the Russian LNG deals reminds him of the Kennedy political dynasty. The family owned an oil refinery and purchased oil in the 1970s from Angola despite that country’s Soviet-backed Marxist government.

Meanwhile, the Citizens Energy Corp. — a charity founded by former Rep. Joe Kennedy in 1979 — partnered with Venezuela’s brutal Socialist government to provide home heating fuel to low-income residents.

“Taking dirty fossil fuel money from corrupt regimes is nothing new for the Massachusetts political elite,” Waller said. “I would suspect this is typical Massachusetts corruption.”

PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage image: AGA’s LNG terminal in Nynäshamn, CC BY-SA 3.0, by Jan Arrhénborg, AGA; photo credit, article image: LNG Tanker Energy Progress at Wickham Point, CC BY 2.0, by Ken Hodge)