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Governor LePage Requests House Members Support Natural Gas Expansion

September 24, 2014

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – As part of his ongoing efforts to lower the cost of electricity and heating costs for Mainers, Governor Paul R. LePage has written Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Congressman Michael Michaud requesting that they support expediting natural gas projects in New England. The Governor asks that they reconsider their opposition to H.R. 1900, “The Natural Gas Permitting Reform Act.”

The legislation, which Reps. Pingree and Michaud opposed, would expedite the federal regulatory review of natural gas projects, an energy source that would lower the cost of heat and electricity for Mainers.

“New England is in an energy crisis, and we desperately need additional natural gas to power our businesses and keep electric bills down for households,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Liberals in Boston oppose natural gas infrastructure, but the rest of New England understands how critical natural gas is for our economy. Congressman Michaud and Congresswoman Pingree have sided with their liberal allies in Boston to oppose expediting natural gas projects through Massachusetts and to our state. They are leaving Mainers in the cold.”

Last November, the House overwhelmingly passed the legislation in a vote of 252-165, with all Republicans and 26 Democrats supporting the bill. Congresswoman Pingree and Congressman Michaud voted against fast-tracking natural gas permits.

The two companies looking to address this challenge, Kinder Morgan and Spectra Energy, support the legislation and believe it would benefit their proposed projects in New England. The prices of electricity are spiking across New England in large part due to the failure to move forward with natural gas projects.

In Maine, a grocery store or a small saw mill should anticipate an increase in the cost of its electricity from $870 a month in September to more than $2,000 a month in January.

Two major projects to address the crisis are proposed for New England. Kinder Morgan has proposed the Northeast Energy Direct; this would create a new pipeline that would traverse the state of Massachusetts and interconnect with the natural gas system that serves Maine.

Spectra Energy has proposed a project, “The Access Northeast Project;” this would expand Spectra’s existing system to increase the gas flow into New England. Without such significant projects, New England will likely once again rely on petroleum to power the lights during the winter months, costing the region billions in higher electricity costs. Natural gas costs will also remain high.

The Governor also sent a letter to the chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requesting that FERC take immediate action to expand natural gas infrastructure in New England, including steps to move incremental expansions, fast track the regulatory approval and consider natural gas storage as a temporary step. He sent the letter while the region is waiting to see whether Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will ultimately support the rest of New England’s initiative to significantly expand natural gas capacity.

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