Key water permit for $1 billion project denied, multi-year campaign wins and sends signal to industry
(New York City) Climate and community leaders celebrated today as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced their denial with prejudice of a key water permit for the Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) fracked gas pipeline. The unnecessary and risky $1 billion, 23-mile pipeline, fought over for years and the focus of an executive order by President Trump, would have shipped 400 million cubic feet of fracked gas from Pennsylvania through New York City per day. The denial with prejudice means that Oklahoma-based Williams can not reapply for these permits.
“This is a victory for the people, by the people. It is an affirmation that the future is not in fracked gas or other dirty fossil fuels peddled by multibillion dollar gas and utility companies,” said Dominique Thomas with 350.org. “The future is in community based solutions, renewables and efficiency programs. There’s no need to build out more fracked gas infrastructure in New York city or anywhere in the state or country. Period.”
Over 48000 letters, emails and comments were submitted to Governor Cuomo, the NYSDEC and other departments in recent years. Advocates commissioned and published several technical reports and analyses disputing the need for the pipeline, effectively dismantling arguments by Williams and its key customer, the UK-based private utility company National Grid, that more gas is needed for New York City. Activists also did staged protests, held virtual rallies and organized massive demonstrations like the September 2019 New York City Climate Strike.
Mobilized by community advocates, the pipeline was opposed by a multitude of elected officials, including New York City councillors, City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Mayor Bill de Blasio as well as federal representatives. After denying the permit without prejudice last May, Williams, supported by National Grid, promptly reapplied.
The victory comes as Congress contemplates a massive bailout package for fossil fuel companies, and numerous proposed pipelines have faced increased hurdles in the past year. These include the Constitution pipeline, which Williams walked away from earlier this year, and the Keystone XL pipeline which, though currently under construction at the US/Canada border, has had a key national water-crossing permit recently revoked by a Montana judge.
The victory sets the stage for the June 2020 release of National Grid’s long term energy plan for the New York City region, which was trending towards more fracked gas infrastructure despite lack of evidence of demand and the newly announced city wide ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure through an executive order by Mayor de Blasio. Climate advocates expect National Grid’s plan must now be focused on renewables and efficiency programs.
The Stop the Williams Pipeline Coalition is organized by 350Brooklyn, 350.org, Food and Water Watch, New York Communities for Change, Rockaway Beach Civic Association, Sane Energy Project, and Surfrider NYC Chapter.
Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage, [email protected], 413-687-5160