With winter just a few months away, and global energy prices expected to remain high, Gov. Ned Lamont has signed a letter to the Biden Administration seeking solutions to help ease the financial burden on Connecticut residents.
The letter, also signed by fellow New England governors Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Gov. Janet Mills of Maine, Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Gov. Daniel McKee of Rhode Island, and Gov. Philip Scott of Vermont, requested that Biden’s Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, suspend the Jones Act to allow the region better access to domestic natural gas.
The Jones Act, a law signed in 1920, mandates that only ships that are U.S.-owned, U.S.-crewed, U.S.-registered, and U.S.-built can transport cargo between U.S. ports. The law was argued for at the time as a way to beef up national security, however, it has created problems for New England states trying to meet their energy needs.
Due to the lack of pipeline connections to transport natural gas from outside the region, New England depends on marine deliveries of natural gas, its primary source of fuel for energy production. The issue is that, while U.S. natural gas is less expensive than imported, there are no ships that can transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) within U.S. ports that comply with the Jones Act.
The letter notes that, in addition to global petroleum prices increasing over 50 percent over the last year, global LNG prices have increased by almost 300 percent. Although New England states have clean energy projects like offshore wind and hydroelectricity, those projects will not be ready to produce energy for residents this upcoming winter, according to the letter.
In addition to a suspension of the Jones Act, the governors also requested that the Department of Energy (DOE) support a modernization effort of the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve that the DOE controls so that, in the event of a disruption in supply, the region can still have access to oil for its energy needs.