Tom Gilbert, campaign director of ReThink Energy NJ and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, crowed that We’ve proved we don’t need the PennEast pipeline. PennEast has proposed and is seeking regulatory approval to build a new natural gas pipeline through Western New Jersey. Gilbert’s proof? During the extreme cold spells of Winter 2019, there was enough natgas capacity to avert shortages. Here are some excerpts:
With spring here, and the coldest weather behind us, it’s a good time to reflect on the hollow claims PennEast made once again that its proposed pipeline is needed to make sure people can stay warm when it’s freezing outside.
If one of winter’s certainties is that there will be some numbingly cold days, another is that the companies that would profit from building the unnecessary pipeline through parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania will seize on this in an effort to justify building their new pipeline.
This winter’s polar vortex proved them wrong again.
Despite extreme cold spells, during the polar vortex, and also the bomb-cyclone of 2018, New Jersey had abundant gas for heating homes and other buildings.*
All PennEast’s billion-dollar pipeline would do is take away from the resources available for developing affordable, reliable, clean energy sources.
To say “[C]ompanies would profit from building the unnecessary pipeline” is contradictory. If it’s unnecessary, there would be no customers, and hence no profits.
More importantly, profit-seeking pipeline businesses and their investors are geared to future needs. The reason that “New Jersey had abundant gas for heating homes and other buildings” now is because pipeline builders foresaw today’s energy needs years ago, and built the infrastructure capacity we now rely upon.
That billion-dollar private expenditure does not “take away from the resources available for developing affordable, reliable, clean energy sources.” Morally, it’s their money, their choice. Anyone else is free to commit their own money to “developing affordable, reliable, clean energy sources”; e.g., build new nuclear capacity, if government would allow it and Environmentalists would get behind it.. Anyone is free to invest in unreliables, like solar and wind.
I for one am thankful for the forward-looking natgas pipeline builders. I hope to someday get access to natgas, which I do not now have, so I can convert from oil heat. That is one industry to whose profits I’d be happy to contribute to.
I won’t defend every public claim made by PennEast in support of regulatory approval for its proposed pipeline. But money speaks louder than words. If private investors are willing to put up $1 billion, I’d trust their judgement above anti-fossil fuel Environmentalists. Where would we be if ReThink Energy NJ, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, and their ilk had gotten their way 10 or 20 or so years ago, and stopped the building out of the pipeline capacity that kept NJ buildings warm in Winter 2019? It is the PennEasts, not the Environmentalists, who have our future reliable, affordable, clean energy needs in mind.
* [“Polar vortex” is the modern buzzword for extreme cold wave. “Bomb cyclone” is a relatively recent term invented by meteorologists to describe a rapidly intensifying low pressure system. Both phenomena have been around as long as Earth’s weather.]
Why Do We Need Pipelines?--Pipeline 101, American Petroleum Institute