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April 15, 2024 Opinion & Commentary

Natural gas, oil still important to CT’s future energy mix

Mike Giaimo

Like much of New England, Connecticut finds itself in a difficult situation when it comes to energy — one that is complicated by aggressive environmental policies, permitting challenges, and limited and aging infrastructure.

These issues, unfortunately, come at a cost to the region, resulting in volatile energy markets across Connecticut and beyond.

With minimal local fuel sources and being at the proverbial end of the pipeline, the region relies heavily on ship, truck and barge deliveries, and inadequate pipeline infrastructure. From this vantage point, it is easy to overlook that the United States is the global leader in oil and natural gas production — a hard-earned distinction that should benefit the entire country.

Unfortunately, few people appreciate our current strong energy position. For example, did you know that the federal government’s forecast has the United States producing 13.2 million barrels of crude oil per day, and more than 13.4 million barrels per day in 2025, both of which would be new records?

With respect to natural gas, the U.S. Energy Information Administration also expects the country to experience record-high production over the next two years.

But our domestic energy advantage is being undermined by short-sighted policies and a lack of support. As we enter a pivotal election year, it is important to focus on a comprehensive “all-of-the-above” energy approach — that includes natural gas and oil — and ensures energy access in our region, bolsters infrastructure and strengthens national security.

Revisiting energy policies

The headwinds faced by all energy producers include geopolitical volatility, supply chain challenges, inflationary pressures and a misguided perception that we can snap our fingers and instantly replace growing energy demand with renewable sources.

Currently, the state legislature is considering policies that could curtail the use of natural gas and move to all electrification in the building sector. At this inflection point, the state should not be looking at policies that limit the use of natural gas, but should be exploring ways to untap its potential.

The massive delays in getting energy projects built are obvious and all around us. Just about every large-scale proposal in the region over the past decade — be it a transmission line, gas-fired power plant, or on- or offshore wind or solar farm — has been met with significant push back, delays and protracted and costly litigation.

The fact that we have seen such an anemic amount of energy infrastructure built over the last decade reinforces a hard truth: that it is time to revisit our energy policies.

Throughout Connecticut, activists are pushing not only to stop pipeline expansions or replacements, but to turn off power plants without a ready replacement, or to prevent new and efficient plants from coming online. This ignores the fact that natural gas and oil supply nearly 70% of America’s energy, and natural gas frequently represents between 50% and 60% of the power on the regional system.

Furthermore, both fuels are projected to be part of our energy mix for decades to come. We should not hasten the retirement of natural gas-fired power plants when abundant amounts of domestic natural gas are but a couple hundred miles away.

This all argues for a more fundamental approach to energy production, one that embraces both renewable sources and recognizes the continued importance of oil and natural gas. A long-term energy strategy is needed to unleash U.S. energy access, bolstering infrastructure and strengthening security.

Despite positive steps, there is still a need for further action to overhaul inefficient permitting processes. Delays in obtaining permits for energy infrastructure hinder progress and investment.

As Connecticut and the rest of the country navigate an uncertain future marked by escalating geopolitical risk, a comprehensive and bipartisan approach is crucial for securing America’s energy future.

Developing natural gas, oil and alternative sources — as well as the infrastructure needed to safely deploy them all — will keep Connecticut and the rest of the region well supplied with reliable energy for decades to come.

Mike Giaimo is the regional director for the Northeast at the American Petroleum Institute (API).

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