Even poor Joe Biden has seen the light on LNG as the only way to get Europe off dependence on Russian gas. What he hasn’t grasped, though, is the fact we can’t get the LNG to places such Germany without pipelines and ports.
Indeed, the Biden Administration has done nada to make it easier to get plentiful Appalachian gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays to the ports. He’s turned FERC into some 2022 version of the Gong Show, plays footsie with every fossil fuel fighter out there, and is stacking the courts with deal killers who want to reinvent America.
Yet, Biden has staked his political prospects on pushing back on Russia and shoving the big bear into the paw of the even bigger Giant Panda. But, motives and all the geopolitical implications aside, there is only one way to beat Russia, save Ukraine and protect Europe. It is to starve the beast, of course. That means one of two things: developing more energy sources in Europe that actually deliver energy when it is needed or shipping the stuff from the good ol’ USA.
Only one of those options is workable right now and that is to get them our LNG as fast as possible. We have the resources. We are building Jones Act ships now that can deliver gas to Europe and even Boston, which, contrary to the Bostonians of Sam Adams’ day, want to be more like Europeans anyway. The problem is this: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is more interested in being faddish with respect to the climate than ensuring our energy security than that of Europe. Pipelines are ever harder to construct.
The Constitution Pipeline was so far behind financially and with its schedule that it gave up the ghost immediately after winning at the Supreme Court.
The PennEast followed the same path. Two massively important pipelines for moving gas around were killed by the ridiculous delays now inherent in our thoroughly unjust Federal justice system — a system where nothing gets decided except by the trapping and smothering effects of our deadly legal web.
And, that’s hardly all. We lost the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Pipeline and Kinder-Morgan’s proposed alternative to the Constitution Pipeline. The Northern Access Pipeline is still languishing in the Federal justice swamp, despite every bit of the law being on its side.
It’s the corrupt American way today, where non-profit tax-exempt foundations manipulate the system on behalf of socialist utopians and corporatist green energy rent-seekers using enviro groups as their useful idiots.
We just saw it yet again with the halting of New Fortress Energy’s plans to convey Marcellus Shale natural gas to LNG in Bradford County, Pennsylvania for shipment by either rail or truck to a port in New Jersey.
It has been fought in both states by the same useful idiots operating under disingenuous names such as Delaware Riverkeeper, PennFuture and Clean Air Council, all paid for by tax-exempt foundations such as the Heinz Endowments, which is run by the step-children of former Secretary of State and current Climate Czar John Kerry.
It is a huge mess, to say the least. We have humongous quantities of natural gas in the Appalachian Basin and cannot get it out fast enough, but that’s what we need to do as a nation if we’re serious about Ukraine, protecting Europe and confronting Russian aggression.
Is the Biden Administration serious about these matters? If so, there are several lessons to be taken from the what’s now happening in Ukraine, lessons for all of us and especially with regard to the Appalachians where our nation’s largest natural gas resource exists without adequate means to get its natural gas to market and to those LNG ports. Talk is cheap — we need action and here’s some of what could be done:
Drop the Green New Deal, which is America’s version of the failed German Energiewende that made Vlad imagine he had Europe by the horns and could do whatever he wished in Ukraine. Don’t just pare it back. Drop the whole thing and end the subsidies — all of them. Ukraine has provided all the proof needed that solar and wind are not adequate solutions and are, in fact, dangerous due to their unreliability.
Replace it with a program to once again pursue world energy dominance, employing whatever resources or combination thereof that will deliver reliability and low-cost energy while still cleaning the air, shale being the most obvious.
Direct FERC, through a combination of administration and legislative pressure, to get back to approving pipelines expeditiously and fighting back against obstructionist environmental lawsuits by enforcing Supreme Court decisions that came too late in the process to save the Constitution and PennEast Pipelines.
Reform the tax-exemption system that has allowed wealthy elitists to play politics with fracking, pipeline projects, and oil and gas in general through the vehicle of private foundations such as the Heinz Endowments. These entities are prohibited from lobbying but do it anyway by simply funding all sorts of radical groups who then file obstructionist lawsuits, the sort of lawsuits that just killed the Bradford County LNG facility and multiple pipelines. End the obstruction by cutting off the money supply!
Let freedom ring again in this country as we say we want for Ukraine. Our private capitalist system of oil and gas produces incredible amounts of natural gas to convert to LNG for shipment overseas to save Europe. This can push Putin back on his feet if we just allow it to happen.
We need to add and improve our existing LNG ports as critical energy infrastructure. We need to designate these ports, as well as the pipelines and railways serving them, as national security priorities that must override the politically-inspired opposition of governors such as Phil Murphy, the former Goldman Sachs executive, who would rather push the ESG, “Build Back Better” and “Great Reset” agenda of the globalist ruling class than take care of the Garden State’s energy needs.
The likelihood of the Biden Administration doing any of this is, of course, remote. Yet, it must surely be done if we are to have any hope of getting back our own energy independence and rescuing Europe yet again from its appeasement strategies.
The appeasement of green party types has come at an enormous price for European states such as Germany and the UK. They have seen their electric prices balloon beyond imagination and have been forced to buy Russian gas — lots of it — even as they go to war with Russia via sanctions. Now, Russia has turned the screws even tighter by demanding to be paid in Rubles.
Between a Russian bear and an unaffordable electric bill is no place to be in today’s world but Europe is there. So is Joe Biden, who gave the Nord Stream a green light while killing the Keystone XL. Appalachian LNG can come to the rescue if he wakes up and realizes he has no choice but to recognize the truth about energy and who should deliver it. Let’s hope he does!
About the author: Tom Shepstone is the owner of Shepstone Management Company Inc., a planning and research consulting firm located in northeastern Pennsylvania. He has advised many counties in both New York state and Pennsylvania, as well as other states, on economic development strategies, especially as they relate to rural and agricultural areas. He is also the publisher of NaturalGasNOW.org, a blog focused on the same objective.