Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

New York Rejects Williams Pipeline Over Water, Climate Concerns

Energy
More than 700 New Yorkers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on April 18, 2019 to demand Governor Andrew Cuomo block the controversial Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Pipeline, which would carry fracked gas through New York Harbor. Erik McGregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images

New York state has rejected the controversial Williams pipeline that would have carried fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey, running beneath New York Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean before connecting to an existing pipeline system off Long Island.


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) announced the decision Friday, arguing that pipeline construction would have harmed water quality and threatened marine life.

"New York is not prepared to sacrifice the State's water quality for a project that is not only environmentally harmful but also unnecessary to meet New York's energy needs," DEC spokesperson Erica Ringewald said in a statement reported by POLITICO.

The decision is a victory for grassroots activists who have long campaigned against the pipeline. After Oklahoma-based company Williams submitted its most recent application, New Yorkers sent in more than 25,000 comments opposing the pipeline in two weeks, according to the Stop the Williams Pipeline Coalition.

"We know [New York State Gov. Andrew] Cuomo only did this because we pressured him to do so," anti-pipeline campaigner Lee Ziesche told HuffPost. "At the end of the day, he still needs to make a plan to get New York off of gas."

The rejection comes a little less than a year after New York state passed ambitious climate legislation requiring the state to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. That deadline is one of the reasons that NYSDEC rejected the pipeline, according to POLITICO.

"While the Department recognizes that many building assets in the State currently rely on natural gas for heating and other energy uses, the continued long-term use of fossil fuels is inconsistent with the State's laws and objectives and with the actions necessary to prevent the most severe impacts from climate change," DEC wrote in a letter explaining its decision. "Without appropriate alternatives or GHG mitigation measures, the Project could extend the amount of time that natural gas may be relied upon to produce energy, which could in turn delay, frustrate, or increase the cost of the necessary transition away from natural gas and other fossil fuels."

NYDDEC also said that construction would disturb toxic sediments like copper and mercury and harm habitats like shellfish beds.

Williams disagreed with New York's assessment.

"We continue to believe that the fundamentals of our project align with New York's clean energy goals because it would have improved local air quality and, at the same time, supported economic development and led to lower heating bills," Williams said in a statement reported by NJ.com.

New York utility National Grid has argued that the pipeline is necessary to meet growing demand, according to HuffPost, but a study released in April by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis found no evidence this was the case.

While the Williams pipeline, officially called the Northeast Supply Enhancement Pipeline, has been rejected before by both New York and New Jersey officials, this rejection is more final, HuffPost explained. The previous rejection was without prejudice, meaning the pipeline owners were invited to reapply if they addressed environmental concerns. Friday's rejection was with prejudice.

"That's the end of the line," anti-pipeline campaigner and former NYSDEC regional director Suzanne Mattei told HuffPost. "A denial with prejudice means the department has determined the environmental impacts of the pipeline are unacceptable and that the company has not given it reason to believe that it can make changes to its proposal that would convert it into an acceptable proposal."

The project received yet another blow later Friday, when New Jersey also denied the pipeline the permits it would have needed to cross the state, NJ.com reported.

"This month, new reporting from New York indicated that the energy needs proposed to be served by this project could be met through existing infrastructure, energy efficiency, and other means," the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said in a statement Saturday. "With no compelling public need demonstrated, and a denial issued by New York, DEP denied approvals for the project on May 15, 2020."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a White House Clean Energy Investment Summit on June 16, 2015 in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

With presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's climate platform becoming increasingly ambitious thanks to nonstop grassroots pressure, fossil fuel executives and lobbyists are pouring money into the coffers of President Donald Trump's reelection campaign in the hopes of keeping an outspoken and dedicated ally of dirty energy in the White House.

Read More Show Less
The Food and Drug Administration is now warning against more than 100 potentially dangerous hand sanitizers.
Antonio_Diaz / Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now warning against more than 100 potentially dangerous hand sanitizers.

Read More Show Less
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on July 1, 2020 in New York City. Byron Smith / Getty Images

While the nation overall struggles with rising COVID cases, New York State is seeing the opposite. After peaking in March and April and implementing strict shutdowns of businesses, the state has seen its number of positive cases steadily decline as it slowly reopens. From coast-to-coast, Governor Andrew Cuomo's response to the crisis has been hailed as an exemplar of how to handle a public health crisis.

Read More Show Less
A whale shark swims in the Egyptian Red Sea. Derek Keats / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Gavin Naylor

Sharks elicit outsized fear, even though the risk of a shark bite is infinitesimally small. As a marine biologist and director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, I oversee the International Shark Attack File – a global record of reported shark bites that has been maintained continuously since 1958.

Read More Show Less
A girl sits under a temporary shade made by joining two bed in Churu, Rajasthan on June 4, 2019. Temperatures in the Indian desert city hit 50 degrees C (122 F) for the second time in three days, sending residents scrambling for shade. MONEY SHARMA / AFP via Getty Images

Current efforts to curb an infectious disease show the potential we have for collective action. That action and more will be needed if we want to stem the coming wave of heat-related deaths that will surpass the number of people who die from all infectious diseases, according to a new study, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
America Pikas are found from the Sierra Nevada to the Rocky Mountains, and have been migrating to higher elevations. Jon LeVasseur / Flickr / Public Domain

By Jenny Morber

Caribbean corals sprout off Texas. Pacific salmon tour the Canadian Arctic. Peruvian lowland birds nest at higher elevations.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Biologists are studying the impact of climate change on the Nenets and their reindeer herds. Deutsche Welle

Biologist Egor Kirillin is on a special mission. Deep in the Siberian wilderness in the Russian Republic of Sakha, he waits on the Olenjok river until reindeer come thundering into the water.

Read More Show Less