New York’s despotic Governor Andrew Cuomo, in what I surmise is a long-term effort to build a record of woke ahead of a Presidential run, has utilized the power of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) (which governs waterways, among other things) to prevent a number of natural gas pipelines that would increase supply to the New York City metropolitan area. The superficial reason is a purported disturbance to marine life and other environmental risks, but the new pipes would mostly parallel the runs of existing pipes, so it’s pretty clear that this is just a front for the real reason: forced decarbonization and a tilting of the market towards solar and wind.

That Cuomo is also forcing New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant to close tells us that his motives are political, not climatic. Nuclear is cleaner than, well, everything else (the large scale rare earth metal mining required for wind and solar, and the decommissioning of wind turbines after 20 years of service are environmental impacts that advocates choose to ignore), and it provides critical base load capacity for when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, so to do away with it before viable replacement power is on line makes no sense – unless you’re a politician building a progressive resume.

Unfortunately for him (and more unfortunately for the residents of New York City and the surrounding areas), reality cannot be altered via diktat. The utility companies, recognizing that without added supply they’d be unable to serve a growing customer base, announced that they would no longer take on new natural gas customers. While residences can go with other forms of heat, including dirtier and less “green” oil heat, it’s unimaginable that a commercial restaurant could make do without natural gas for cooking equipment. And, indeed, the moratorium has hurt business startups.

Of course, the local politicians who supported Cuomo in this are quickly changing their tune in response to their constituents’ outrage. That this problem is both of their own making and entirely foreseeable doesn’t seem to faze them in the least.

On top of this, a “virtual pipeline” has emerged to make up for the shortages created by increased demand and constrained supply. Natural gas is being delivered across the Hudson river… by truck. Cuomo’s dream of decarbonizing the state by brute force has to face up to the reality that market forces are inexorable. And, that his pipeline bans are putting more diesel-burning trucks on the road, pushing residential builders to go with oil heat (requiring their own diesel burning delivery trucks and emitting 50% more carbon per unit energy than gas heat). Oh, and let’s not forget the increased risk associated with trucking gas instead of piping it.

What’s Cuomo’s response? Like a petulant emperor being told he can’t miracle his will into reality, he has, wait for it, ordered the utilities to connect new customers to the gas grid.

Create a shortage, get publicly indignant when the consequences of that artificial shortage occur, and command that those consequences not happen. Only a politician could do that without turning beet-red from embarrassment.

A common mockery of progressive ideas regarding energy (or money with which to pay for everything, for that matter) is to liken it to pixie dust and unicorn farts. In other words, the realm of fantasy, wholly disconnected from the realities and constraints of the world we live in. Cuomo may think he’s clever, and that his gas pipeline ban will force the market to accept and accelerate his dreams of windmills and solar panels, but the market is both cleverer and more inexorable. If his preferred outcome doesn’t make sense, things won’t come out as he intends. And, consequences to which he blinders his eyes won’t not happen simply because he ignores them. The image of an ostrich putting its head in the sand to ignore dangers around it comes to mind.

Cuomo has already done enormous economic damage to the upstate region by banning fracking in New York State. The Southern Tier of New York, which sits atop the same Marcellus Shale that has driven an energy and jobs boom in Pennsylvania, has been moribund for years, with its residents’ suffering one of the costs of Cuomo’s hubris and political aspirations. New York City, the economic engine of the state, needs energy to keep going, and that energy cannot simply be miracled into existence.

America’s shale boom has not only freed her of dependence on foreign oil, but it has cleaned up her atmosphere and reduced her carbon output. That’s, for some reason, a Bad Thing in the minds of radical environmentalists and the politicians they command. An absurdity like the Green New Deal would be laughable were it not embraced in some form by the Democratic Presidential front-runners (and with Elizabeth Warren promising to ban fracking nationally her first day as Empress). Instead, it’s deadly serious, because the politicians who would control our lives would follow in Cuomo’s footsteps, and believe they can indeed force unicorns to fart out the energy we need to live the lives we lead.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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