Mass. delegation chides White House over Russian gas imports
The Trump administration may have yet another Russia problem.
The 11-member Massachusetts congressional delegation, all Democrats, fired off a letter Friday to two Trump Cabinet secretaries complaining that a Russian company subject to US sanctions was able to ship liquefied natural gas to Boston.
The gas comes from the Yamal LNG plant in Siberia, whose primary developer, Novatek, was sanctioned by the US government in 2014 in part because of Russia’s role in destabilizing eastern Ukraine. But those sanctions dealt with the financing of new projects, not the sale of fuel from Yamal.
Beyond letting gas from a sanctioned company into the United States, the legislators said it is also wrong to accept LNG from Russia at a time when US intelligence agencies say that country has interfered in American electoral politics. The letter was sent before Special Counsel Robert Mueller released an indictment of 13 Russians for interfering in the 2016 presidential elections.
The letter was sent to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and was organized by the office of Senator Elizabeth Warren. Senator Ed Markey sent a similar letter last week to Mnuchin and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, asking pointed questions about the LNG.
As of Friday afternoon, the energy company that operates the Distrigas LNG terminal in Everett had received one shipment of LNG that included gas from the Yamal terminal. Another ship with gas from Russia is expected in Everett soon.
Carol Churchill, a spokeswoman for parent company Engie, said the Russian gas was purchased from outside suppliers to replenish inventories because of the colder-than-normal weather this winter. Engie doesn’t expect any more shipments with Russian-sourced LNG in the foreseeable future, and most of its LNG comes from Trinidad.