Two United States Senators, Republican Ted Cruz of Texas and Democrat Jean Shaheen of New Hampshire, introduced legislation last week that would place sanctions on any company attempting to finish laying the pipe needed to complete the last 100 miles of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia directly to Germany in the Baltic Sea. The sanctions not only would target companies doing pipe-laying activities themselves, but they also would include entities performing underwriting services, insurance, or re-insurance for the project.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline remains controversial for both environmental and geopolitical reasons – as can perhaps be discerned by the fact that Senators Cruz and Shaheen, never natural allies, are co-sponsoring the same bill. The pipeline would increase Germany’s energy dependency on Russia while also bypassing the existing pipelines that run through Ukraine and the Baltic states, thereby depriving those nations of much needed transshipment revenues that each country currently receives.
Despite the constant environmental moralizing of the Europeans, the Nord Stream 2 project is an example of what can happen when good environmental intentions overrule sound judgment. The fact that it needs to be built at all is evidence of the failure of Germany’s “energiewende” policy. That policy, started in 2010, was intended to rid Germany of both fossil fuels and nuclear energy by in effect permitting only energy and power projects from renewable sources. Ten years later, with some of the highest energy costs in Europe, a confounding continued reliance on burning coal for most of its electricity, and still decades away from powering its economy entirely from renewables, Germany finds little choice but to tie itself closer to Russia for energy. Not only does this energy alliance constrict Germany’s freedom in international relations, but it also underscores approval for Russia’s Arctic gas producing procedures, which are environmentally appalling.
The same mistake is being played out in the American northeast, where New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has led the charge against both fracking and pipeline construction in his state. Recently, he joined New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy in denying permits to finish the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline project that would have moved natural gas from the Marcellus Shale gas fields in northeastern Pennsylvania to New York City and its environs.
Should the winter weather in 2020-21 be bad, New York and New England, like Germany, again might need to import…
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