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Everyone has heard and/or used the term asinine, which Merriam-Webster defines as something that is extremely or utterly foolish or silly. The real world example of this term is the energy policy of the United States and liquefied natural gas (LNG) being exported from Russia to New England thanks to hurdles due to U.S. energy policy. 

This winter’s recurring cold spells have placed a significant strain on New England’s gas and oil supply. Due to a void created by the United States dysfunctional energy policy, instead of filling the need with the abundant and more cost efficient supply domestically, the region has been forced to seek energy abroad – a need that Russia is all too willing to exploit.

President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia in 2014 that excluded the output of oil. Ever since, Russia has sought opportunities to exploit shortcomings in the U.S.’ energy policy and to leverage the cold spell in New England in their favor to further distance themselves from the United States in the energy market. 

In late December, the Yamal terminal in Russia, whose majority owner Novatek was subject to the President Obama sanctions, sent its first cargo of LNG to the Isle of Grain terminal near London. With gas prices and demand soaring in New England, French energy company Engie delivered the shipment of Russian LNG to Boston on their Gaselys vessel. An embarrassment to the United States that Vladimir Putin and the Russian media are all too willing to gloat over. To make matters worse, another shipment of Russian LNG to Boston is expected to take place in February. 

There are many questions regarding the situation. How could the United States allow the Russian government to embarrass our energy industry? Wasn’t the discovery of shale gas supposed to lift the United States as a global leader in energy, while providing an abundant supply of oil and gas for the nation? Is there anything that can be done to prevent this from continuing to happen? The answer to just about all of these questions is yes. 

Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are home to the Marcellus Shale, the largest natural gas field in the United States. The region is also home to another significant reservoir called the Utica Shale. To highlight the size and importance of the Marcellus and Utica Shale experts believe that in 2020, only three years from now, that 35 percent of the nation’s natural gas will be produced from the region. Furthermore, as I stated in a recent episode of the MH Business Exchange podcast series, the energy industry had a record year for shale in 2017 - and 2018 is already believed to be another record year.

The supply of shale is not the cause for the lack of dominance on the world stage for the United States. The culprit, as Agina Grigas, of the Atlantic Council, writes in the New York Times, is our energy policy and the lack of crucial energy infrastructure. To stop continued embarrassment from Russia and to bring relief to our New England neighbors, we must build a pipeline connecting the region to Marcellus and Utica. For those with environmental concerns, I ask, is it better for the environment to continue to force New England to ship natural gas from across the globe and to remain dependent on oil-fired electricity generation? 

The United States has the unique ability to become a global leader and to provide cost efficient energy to the entire nation. But to meet its full potential, the hurdles in the way need to be removed. It is time for the nation’s energy policy to go from asinine to sensible.         
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