Energy

Dem AG Opposed To Pipelines Says Buying Russian Gas Is Better For The Climate

A Democratic attorney general who’s blocked natural gas pipelines and sued ExxonMobil over global warming is now saying that buying Russian gas is better for the climate.

New England received two shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) this winter that included supplies from Russia. Climate policies have made the region much more reliant on natural gas, which is expected to increase, but pipeline constraints have made supplies precarious during cold snaps.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has opposed building new pipeline capacity to bring more gas to energy-starved New England, and says importing liquefied natural gas during cold snaps is better for the environment than building new pipelines.

“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,” Healey spokeswoman Chloe Gotsis told E&E News on Wednesday.

Healey has used her office to block pipeline projects energy experts say are needed to relieve supply constraints in New England. The region’s grid operator recently warned that shuttering coal and nuclear power plants will only exacerbate energy security woes.

A recent ISO New England study found the region “could be headed for significant levels of emergency actions, particularly during major fuel or resource outages.” Recent cold snaps have sent electricity prices surging and forced power plants to burn more oil and coal.

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Despite pressure to build more pipelines, Healey’s office says continuing to import LNG from abroad, including from Russia, is a better policy.

“Continuing to rely on pipelines is too risky for ratepayers and our climate,” Gotsis said.

Healey’s been criticized for her opposition to pipelines, including by The Boston Globe. The paper published an editorial in February arguing pipeline opponents had essentially funded a “Russian pipeline” to the Arctic.

“The real-world result of pipeline absolutism in Massachusetts this winter has been to steer energy customers to dirtier fuels like coal and oil, increasing greenhouse gas emissions,” The Globe wrote.

Healey is also locked in legal battles with Exxon. Healey joined New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in suing Exxon about two years ago for allegedly covering up global warming science and funding groups opposed to climate policies.

Healey’s suit is largely based on reporting from liberal journalists at InsideClimate News and Columbia University on Exxon’s climate research going back to the 1970s. Healey’s case has even enveloped conservative non-profits.

Healey’s Exxon suit is tied up in Massachusetts courts over jurisdiction issues, and she’s defending herself in federal court against accusations she intiatied her investigation in bad faith.

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