Letter to the Editor: Energy and Politics

4 mins read

Our politicians are cowardly. They’ll put their support behind whatever industry offers to spend the most, no matter the cost. That currently means supporting the introduction of solar and electrovoltaic technologies to New England despite knowing they’re not quite up to the task of reducing the type of foreign dependence that’s driven energy skywards in recent years. In fact, they’re nearly as dependent on foreign resources as oil and gas is.

These leaders find themselves in a desperate situation resulting from miscalculations made in the Middle East, though, so I understand what drives them even if they don’t. Western political leaders ignored the possibility that Russia and Saudi Arabia could increase their leverage over the oil and gas producing nations in that region as our militaries shook down their competitors. Russia, which concentrated its efforts in the Black Sea region, now uses its influence over OPEC+ to restrict the flow of oil and gas through the region, while Saudi uses its influence over OPEC to restrict the flow from Middle Eastern sources. These restrictions, and the unrest that preceded them, created the excessive energy costs driving Western politicians to invest federal dollars in energy development.

Local politicians are merely finding the most expedient way to spend this money. Regulated as it is, the quickest way to access it, while creating a bunch of temporary jobs, is to invest in projects that utilize prefabricated components that can be assembled on site. This is part of the visual impact strategy politicians prefer these days, not because they have a lasting positive impact, but because they create the impression that progress is being made quickly. Large scale energy projects designed to make use of local materials are few and far between now because they take time to complete, not because they’re less effective in the long run. We would be investing in hydro development if not for this fact.

Economic and scientific studies of the problem concur; investment in hydro will speed the transition from fossil-fuels, even when solar and electrovoltaic technologies are involved. This is why Europe and other regions responding to both the need to reduce foreign dependence and emissions are building hydro facilities at a quick pace. The only reason New England is not, despite the vast hydro resources at our disposal, is because hydro was irresponsibly branded a source of pollution by activists who didn’t know they were being manipulated by oil and gas interests in 2021 as they sought to ensure it wouldn’t claim a larger share of the market.

Money affects things. All those oil and gas interests had to do to create a wave of support is put money out there that could only be spent by those willing to criticise the transmission line that would move hydroelectricity from Quebec to New England. Suddenly there were a thousand arguments against both coming from activist groups created solely for that purpose. This is “incentive dependent behaviour”. Beliefs resulting from it and the political desire to create the impression energy related emissions and foreign dependencies can be reduced quickly is all that’s behind the lack of investment in hydro here.

Jamie Beaulieu
Farmington, Maine


Opinion pieces reflect the views of the individual author, and do not reflect the views of the Daily Bulldog, Mt. Blue TV, or Central Maine Media Alliance. Publication of an opinion piece does not equate to endorsement of the content of the piece.

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