By James Sweet
Improvements in the nation’s natural gas infrastructure are getting more difficult as President Joe Biden wages war against the United States’s energy grid. Regulatory burdens have plagued new pipelines and shale fracking operations under previous administrations, and Biden is intentionally making it worse.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is cited by the administration as the primary cause of the U.S.’s energy crisis. “Putin’s price hike,” according to former press secretary Jen Psaki, is why the public is facing rising prices across various sectors of the economy.
The U.S. domestic natural gas market is not facing a rise in prices because of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pipeline projects aiming to transport natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale basins have been canceled, delayed, or halted because of court challenges launched by environmentalist groups and state administrations.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline project seeks to transport gas extracted from the Marcellus and Utica shales across the states of Virginia and West Virginia. A January 2022 ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected permits issued for the pipeline by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management because of environmental concerns. MVP has raised the costs of the project while delaying the start date, as it attempts to get new permits for constructing the pipeline.
Developers of the PennEast pipeline, which sought to transport natural gas between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, successfully defended their project in a legal fight that went to the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, the nation’s highest court ruled PennEast could seize land owned by the State of New Jersey for the pipeline’s construction. The pipeline was canceled despite this victory because the state dragged its feet and refused to issue the required permits.
President Donald Trump’s administration tried to support America’s pipelines by revising the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules for the water permitting process. Under Trump, states could block projects if they proved a project would be directly responsible for polluting bodies of water. The time frame for permit reviews was one year in order to prevent delays to projects.
Cue the Biden administration.
On June 2, 2022, the EPA proposed a new rule that would undo the Trump-era reforms. Under the rule, states can now exercise more flexibility when conducting their permit reviews and determine a “reasonable period of time” rather than a set period of one year.
Production is stagnating, but the growth of fossil fuels is not part of the Biden administration’s agenda despite natural gas being cleaner than coal and oil for energy production. “Burning natural gas for energy results in fewer emissions of nearly all types of air pollutants and carbon dioxide than burning coal or petroleum products to produce an equal amount of energy,” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Despite proposing new rules to stonewall the American supply of natural gas, Biden wants to provide the resource to our European allies as they decouple from Russia. Domestic production is stagnating in the northeast because of pipeline projects being halted and delayed, but we are telling allies to rely on our liquid natural gas. Promises are being made that cannot be kept.
“Almost all the world’s liquefied natural gas supply is sold under contract, and these contracts are decades in length. There is very little LNG available to be re-routed from one region to some other region,” David Victor, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, told CBS News.
Prices will continue to rise in the long-term, as Biden tries to ration our natural gas between domestic consumers and European nations. The status quo is not enough for Biden, and his push for change has only eradicated American energy independence in favor of OPEC’s manipulation of global oil markets. Biden is pursuing not a reliable energy grid but a costly one where the public is expected to pay the price.