Biden’s First Fracking Test
It is not only oil that is in abundance in America. The country is awash in clean-burning natural gas and costs are at near-historic lows. Rather than celebrating abundant, affordable natural gas, Joe Biden is being pushed to use the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission block the construction of a much-needed facility on the Delaware River to be used to export liquified natural gas to other countries and alleviate the severe over-supply problems in the northeast.
Joe Biden should embrace the opportunities that come with low-cost, reliable energy and reject those who seek to return us to the days of dependence on those who wish us harm.
By the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, January 10, 2021
Joe Biden promised at the end of the election campaign that he wouldn’t ban fracking for oil and natural gas. He’d merely forbid new oil and gas permits on federal land and waters. Pennsylvania voters who have benefited from a fracking boom may soon find out whether he meant it.
Progressives are calling on the Biden Administration to kill plans long underway for a port on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River in Gibbstown. The project is designed to allow natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale to be liquified and then transported by train to the port where it will be exported, mostly to the Caribbean.
Groups such as the Delaware Riverkeeper Network oppose the plans because they oppose all fossil fuels and any effort to make them more economical. So far they haven’t had much traction. The Army Corps of Engineers has approved the port, and in December the Delaware River Basin Commission gave its okay. Opponents now hope to get the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to block it.
They’re also working to block transport of the LNG. Last summer the Trump Administration approved a rule that allows LNG to be transported by rail. Activists are raising the specter of “train bombs” blowing up as they pass through cities such as Philadelphia.
A formal ban isn’t the only way to stop fracking. It can also be done by denying permits and raising costs and imposing delays via regulation. Reversing the Trump rule on train transport would put the squeeze on the industry by making it more expensive and inefficient to transport.
LNG is hazardous if manhandled, but trains carry many such materials and with a solid safety record. A July 2020 review by the Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said that “bulk rail transit is a safe alternative for this energy product.” It adds that the DOT-113 cars that would transport the LNG “have an established track record of safety in transporting other cryogenic flammable materials.”
A Jan. 5 Washington Post story notes that groups that have been unable to stop the port “are hoping to find allies in the incoming Biden administration.” One of them could be Xavier Becerra, Mr. Biden’s pick for secretary for Health and Human Services, who in California joined a suit by 15 state attorneys general challenging the new rule allowing rail transportation. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris has supported an outright fracking ban.
The New Jersey LNG port should be an easy call. It has been approved by local authorities, is supported by unions for the jobs it would create, and it would help revitalize the area where it is being built. Same for the rule allowing rail transport of LNG. The test of Mr. Biden’s fracking pledge will be if he lets the project proceed without interference.
This article appeared on the Wall Street Journal website at https://www.wsj.com/articles/bidens-first-fracking-test-11610319182]]>