Forty-one members of Congress recently sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asking it to exercise its “power to influence retail rates for natural gas and electricity.” This letter comes as they worry about “the effect that anticipated increases in heating and energy costs will have on our constituents this winter.” They are correct to be worried. Predictions of a cold winter, high demand, and low supply will push prices of natural gas 30% higher than last year. Any increase in energy prices always negatively affects the poor most of all.
It did not have to be this way. The Keystone XL pipeline, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the PennEast Pipeline are just some of the projects canceled in recent years due to environmental concerns. Those projects would have increased the supply of oil and natural gas. As Pope Francis reminds us, we have a duty to take care of the environment. Yet, such care must involve prudent and realistic decisions that consider the needs of the poor.
With winter here, we cannot wait for politicians. Fortunately, the Diocese of Providence’s “Keep the Heat” program exists precisely to help those in need. Hopefully, next winter we will have policies that both benefit the environment and provide for the needs of the poor.
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