Despite home heating oil prices surging to about $5.40 per gallon, Maine Gov. Janet Mills told a few dozen University of Maine students this week that she opposes increasing domestic oil and natural gas exploration.
“I don’t think the answer to the crisis here is to give them more money or to drill for more oil,” Mills told a small rally in Orono. The comments were recorded by the Maine Republican Party and uploaded to Facebook.
Mills’ comments mirror those made by President Joe Biden during his 2020 campaign for office.
Biden said numerous times that he wanted to shut down all oil drilling and effectively end the fossil fuel industry. One of his very first actions as President was to unilaterally end federal new land leasing to oil and natural gas companies, limiting supply of the essential energy sources and driving up prices.
But in recent months, as energy prices have skyrocketed and inflation has hurt consumers, Democratic Party officials have been more measured with their opposition to affordable hydrocarbon-based energy.
The Inflation Reduction Act, for example, was widely touted by Reps. Chellie Pingree (ME-CD1) and Jared Golden (ME-CD2) as a solution to soaring gas prices. That law partially reversed an early executive action from the Biden administration to open up new federal lands for oil and natural gas companies to explore. But the industry takes time to adjust to new policies, and the whiplash from schizophrenic American energy policy means delays in increasing supply to meet demand. The consequence of that is higher prices for the consumer while the industry ramps up production.
In Maine, 70 percent of homeowners use oil or natural gas to heat their homes. It’s unclear whether expensive left-wing passion projects like wind and solar could ever efficiently replace hydrocarbon-based heating.
Indeed, as gas and oil prices rise due to policy-based supply constraints, many Mainers will turn to wood stoves for heat, which will actually increase the level of carbon emissions over fossil fuel based heat.
Charlie Summers, the president of a trade group that represents Maine oil and gas dealers, has told The Maine Wire that Mills could help Mainers endure the coming winter by issuing a waiver that allows for the import and sale of non-low sulfur diesel oil and kerosene.
Mill’s Energy Office has not responded to emails asking whether issuing such a waiver was under consideration.