LePage to DC to talk natural gas, hydro power with congressional committee

Gov. Paul LePage, R-Maine, at a recent public forum in Belfast. BDN file photo by Ashley L. Conti.

Gov. Paul LePage, R-Maine, at a recent public forum in Belfast. BDN file photo by Ashley L. Conti.

Gov. Paul LePage is en route to Washington, D.C, where he’ll testify Wednesday before to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on energy and power.

The hearing, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Kentucky, will focus on Republican-backed proposals to expedite the interstate natural gas pipeline permitting process and streamline hydropower licensing and increase hydropower production.

LePage, who has advocated for expanded access to both energy sources in Maine, is the only official from any of the states scheduled to speak to the committee.

In his prepared testimony, LePage writes that the United States is now able to meet its energy needs all on its own, thanks in part to technological advances and the boom in natural gas production.

But, LePage said, federal bureaucracy has not kept pace with innovation, which he blamed on nefarious interests.

“Our federal permitting process has languished,” he wrote. “The process is often hijacked by activists who are not looking to improve projects or raise substantive environmental considerations. Rather, their objective is simply to block critical energy infrastructure across the country — to keep projects stuck in bureaucracy and to hold our economies back.”

LePage reiterated his assessment that needlessly high energy costs have hurt Maine’s manufacturing sector. As evidence, he points to the succession of mill closures in the Pine Tree State.

“Our federal regulations need to be overhauled to unleash our country’s economy,” LePage wrote. “Natural gas and hydropower are ready to power our idle mills.”

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday. A live Web stream will be available at http://1.usa.gov/INlRqo.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.