Source: Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis
In a major victory for environmental activists, New York regulators on Wednesday rejected the construction of a heavily disputed, nearly $1 billion natural gas pipeline, even as business leaders and energy companies warned that the decision could devastate the state’s economy and bring a gas moratorium to New York City and Long Island.
The pipeline was planned to run 37 miles, connecting natural gas fields in Pennsylvania to New Jersey and New York. Its operator, the Oklahoma-based Williams Companies, pitched it as a crucial addition to the region’s energy infrastructure, one that would deliver enough fuel to satisfy New York’s booming energy needs and stave off a looming shortage.
But environmental groups said Williams was manufacturing a crisis to justify a project that would rip apart fragile ecosystems, handcuff New York to fossil fuels and hobble the state’s march toward renewable resources.
The result was an arcane but fevered battle, over what was potentially New York’s most fraught environmental decision since it banned fracking in 2014. The fight also took on political overtones, as progressive activists pressed Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to urge his Department of Environmental Conservation to reject the application, casting it as a threat to his environmental legacy.
In a statement announcing the denial, the conservation department did not refer to the firestorm that had preceded its decision, aside from noting that it had received comments from more than 45,000 people about the project — 90 percent of whom opposed it. The department laid out its decision in technical terms, noting that construction would contaminate New York’s waters with mercury and copper.
“Construction of the NESE pipeline project is projected to result in water quality violations and fails to meet New York State’s rigorous water quality standards,” the department said, referring to what is formally called the Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline.