Republicans and Democrats argue about a lot of things in Augusta. Sometimes we fight like cats and dogs. So when an issue comes along that garners support from both sides of the aisle, you can bet it’s pretty important.

Despite our differences, there is growing bipartisan support for the development of liquefied natural gas storage facilities in Maine as a way to grow jobs, control energy prices and bring critical revenue to our communities.

Republicans and Democrats alike understand that the high cost of energy is one of Maine’s biggest economic challenges. Our energy costs are volatile, and rising all the time.

While the state has looked to natural gas to reduce our energy costs, experts agree that increasing demand will mean higher gas costs in the future. Natural gas, like any other commodity, also increases in cost during peak-demand time. This means higher prices in the winter when we need it for heat.

LNG storage facilities create a buffer against these price spikes. By storing gas during low-demand times, and then delivering that gas during peak periods and emergencies, LNG storage facilities will reduce gas costs significantly during the cold months when Mainers need it most.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have recognized the positive potential of LNG storage development, and are taking action. The Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee is considering a bill, L.D. 881, that would pave the way for LNG storage facilities to be developed across Maine.

One proposed site of such a facility is abutting the Emera Energy plant in Rumford. Developing a liquefied natural gas storage facility here would mean an immediate economic benefit to Rumford and surrounding communities. Another potential site for a similar facility is in Brewer.

The economic benefits of this bill would be hard for folks of any political persuasion to argue with.

Right out of the gate, LNG storage would reduce energy costs to Maine’s families and businesses. Gas stored in Maine would reduce the risk of shortages during emergencies.

The construction of these facilities would each create over 200 jobs, and roughly 20 full-time jobs would be created after the facilities are built. The development of each LNG storage facility would inject over $250 million of investment into rural Maine communities.

Adding these facilities to the tax base of rural communities would also alleviate pressure on towns to increase property taxes to fund critical services like schools, police and firefighters.

This is the kind of economic activity that Republicans and Democrats alike have been working toward for some time. And Maine needs it now more than ever. Our construction industry in particular has been steadily losing jobs for years, and projects like these would help get our hard-working contractors back to work.

LNG storage would have a positive impact on the environment as well. Enhanced natural gas availability during cold winter months would mean a reduced need for oil-powered generators. And the availability of affordable natural gas will help foster the positive trend of getting Maine homes off heating oil.

What’s especially great about this concept is that it isn’t a complicated solution at all. What the Legislature will be doing is simply opening the door to divert resources toward a market-based solution to mitigate price spikes and put downward pressure on energy costs. And it delivers a substantial economic boom to our state without having a negative impact on our environment.

Being from opposite sides of the aisle, the two of us are sure that we will end up with plenty to debate during this legislative session. But thankfully, we both agree on some core concepts: reliable fuels, more jobs, lower energy costs and responsible environmental stewardship.

It is our firm belief that L.D. 881 would further all of these goals by allowing liquefied natural gas storage facilities to be developed in Maine. We encourage the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee to vote “yes” on L.D. 881, and bring this much-needed economic development to Maine.


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