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What the Westchester Gas Moratorium Is Really About

Westchester County

Westchester Gas
March 25, 2019

Con Edison’s moratorium on new natural gas hookups in booming southern Westchester County is just 10 days old, but it’s already triggering “anger and panic” among developers and elected leaders, the New York Times reports

Some 16,000 apartments and condominium units are in the works in Yonkers, New Rochelle, and White Plains. Those and other projects were cast into limbo on March 15, when Con Ed announced that its pipelines that deliver gas from the Gulf of Mexico are maxed out, and a moratorium on new hookups would begin. The only other places in the country with similar restrictions are in Massachusetts. 

Since widespread fracking and drilling have produced ample supplies of natural gas, the moratorium has inspired some to propose an obvious solution: build more gas pipelines. But opponents counter that more pipelines will lock the nation into a reliance on fossil fuels when a priority should be developing renewable energy, including wind, solar, and geothermal. 

These opponents have a powerful ally in Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has a home in Mount Kisco, which is included in the moratorium. With his Green New Deal, Cuomo is trying to push the state away from fossil fuels. He has banned fracking, and two years ago his administration rejected a major interstate pipeline project, saying its construction would endanger wetlands. 

Meanwhile, National Grid – a utility that supplies natural gas to 1.8 million customers in Brooklyn and parts of Queens, as well as on Long Island and Staten Island – is seeking the state’s approval to build a 24-mile pipeline from New Jersey through lower New York Bay. The proposal has met with stiff opposition. 

Dr. Courtney M. Williams, who lives in Peekskill and is a founder of Safe Energy Rights Group, an environmental group, says the moratorium should lead to a broader discussion about climate change and greener energy policies. “Any investment in pipeline infrastructure is locking us into a fossil fuel future,” Dr. Williams said. “These companies have invested millions in antiquated infrastructure. The writing is on the wall. It is really clear that we need to invest in renewable energy.”

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