What has Gov. Andrew Cuomo done to help win America’s war for energy independence? Precious little, and it’s embarrassing.
If anything, the governor has been on the other side, with Middle Eastern and Russian petro-despots who need to control production to keep prices high, and New Yorkers have paid a modest, but nonetheless real, price for this. Over time, that price is likely to rise.
News came over the long holiday weekend that, for the first time in 70 years, the United States in September had been a net oil exporter for an entire month. This was a signal achievement, almost entirely attributable to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) — and a will in Washington to break US dependence on foreign energy.
The war is far from won, but for now, America has degraded the ability of a few Iranian gunboats’ to body-slam the US economy by throttling off the Strait of Hormuz.
But no thanks to Cuomo. Or, more precisely, no thanks to those members of the Democratic Party so dedicated to green extremism that they effectively are sailing with the gunboats — consequences be damned.
In this respect, Cuomo is a type. He almost single-handedly forced the approaching shutdown of the Indian Point nuclear plant — it produces 35 percent on New York’s electricity — with no clear plan for replacing its power.
And his theatrical opposition both to fracking and the transmission of natural gas across the state holds him in high esteem with greens, but has had substantial and growing negative effects on New York, especially upstate.
The governor engineered an outright ban on fracking — the technology responsible for a 55 percent increase in hydrocarbon extraction in America over the past decade, with no significant ill effects.
In so doing, Cuomo cut the natural-gas-rich Southern Tier out of the relative prosperity currently enjoyed by nearby fracking states like Pennsylvania and Ohio.
His efforts to soften the impact of the ban through heavily subsidized “economic-development” schemes have produced one epic failure after another: New York was recently compelled to write down hundreds of millions in high-tech investments, for example. And Cuomo’s increasingly infamous Buffalo Billion collaboration with Elon Musk has produced virtually nothing, although at a cost of nearly $1 billion.
It hasn’t helped that many of the projects have been accompanied by eye-popping criminal scandals; the Cuomo administration is arguably the most corrupt in modern times. But in the end, it remains that there isn’t much of an appetite for doing business in New York north of 96th Street in Manhattan.
Which is totally understandable. It’s expensive here, taxes are bone-crushing, the regulatory environment is hostile and lately the politics have gotten a little thuggish.
For example, when New York’s principal natural-gas distribution utilities, National Grid and Con Ed, rationally responded to a projected shortage of gas by scaling back on new customers, Cuomo deployed the mailed fist.
Never mind that he himself had precipitated a potential crisis by scuppering permits for a new gas-transmission pipeline. The utilities had defied him, and that can’t be permitted either.
“We will not allow any business, big or small, to extort New Yorkers in order to advance its own interests,” said the governor — who then effectively extorted National Grid.
Details from behind the scenes are sketchy, but National Grid is back to hooking up new customers, having paid a $35 million bounty to the state for its temerity — and Cuomo has turned his attention to Con Ed, which presumably will get back in line soon.
Right now, tractor-trailers hauling compressed natural gas are zipping all over the state, and a fireball somewhere probably is inevitable. New York needs a new pipeline, and that fact alone is an anchor on economic growth.
But it’s also now clear that companies that stand up for their own best interests are courting a gubernatorial going-over, which can only give pause to potential investors. The bill for that will be subtle but real.
Thus does the episode illuminate Cuomo’s fundamental hypocrisy on energy and the environment: He does his best to thwart production, but when the inevitable shortages emerge, so, too, does his inner bully.
Today, he stands with America’s energy enemies — there’s no sugar-coating that — and the greens love it.
But when it all ends, be it in three years or seven, he’ll be leaving an empty stage, best remembered for the corruption, for the failures and for the self-serving. OPEC will miss him, though.
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