Energy: Good in Theory, Not in Connecticut

By August 21, 2007Energy

A U.S. District Court in Connecticut has blocked developed of a natural gas pipeline from Connecticut to Long Island, overturning a 2004 order by then Secretary of Commerce Dan Evans to allow the 40-mile transmission line. The Hartford Courant has a lengthy story.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal combines equal measures of glee and self-righteous anger in embracing the judge’s decision, declaring:

The outcome confirms our essential point that the Commerce Secretary disregarded both hard facts and evidence in his illegal decision. For now – and hopefully forever – this decision means that we have conquered an environmental and economic catastrophe. We have protected against a project that is worst case and worst place for precious environmental interests – water quality in Long Island Sound, pristine coastal resources in the Thimble Islands, wildlife and aquatic systems that depend on this area. We are ready and willing to fight an appeal by Islander East. At stake is a national treasure.

“If there is truly a need for natural gas on Long Island, it can come from elsewhere through a pipeline placed elsewhere, avoiding devastating harm to both environmental and consumer interests.

“This decision is a critical blow to the Bush Administration’s continuing campaign to enable environmental law breaking by special interests. Connecticut will continue to lead state coalitions against federal efforts to strip states of law-enforcement power against environmental destruction.”

Spare us the fulminating. What you’re telling the people of Long Island is that the potential that oyster beds in specific areas MIGHT be disrupted for a while trumps the value of supplying the energy that heats the homes, powers their business, and allows any level of manufacturing activity. There’s already a pipeline between Milford and Northport, N.Y; should it never have been built, or be torn up now because of the potential harm to oysters and snails?

The power of NIMBY — and this appears to be the usual case of environmentalists teaming up with super-wealthy elitists (think Nantucket wind farm) — is halting economic growth all over the country, especially when it comes to energy projects. Some form of federal approval, at the end of a lengthy process, is essential if people are to work. The 2005 Energy Policy Act allowed such a federal role, and so far, the congressional energy bills have at least kept those parts of the 2005 law in place. (Against the push of Maryland’s Senators, for one.)

Blumenthal was on NPR this morning also railing against “energy interests.” Except, really ….these much-maligned interests are meeting an essential human need, without which we live in caves. Eating oysters. Raw.

P.S. In CNBC’s ratings of the top states for doing business, Connecticut ranked 47th in the “cost of doing business,” a category which includes the cost of energy.

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