A day after the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) rejected a controversial $1 billion underwater natural-gas pipeline because of possible damage to New York City’s waterways, National Grid announced it has stopped processing new applications for all residential and commercial gas hookups, Newsday reports.
The Northeast Supply Enhancement 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, claimed it would stave off a looming shortage, given that New York State banned fracking in 2014 and that existing pipelines are operating at full capacity. Con Edison has already imposed a moratorium on new gas hookups in southern Westchester County. National Grid provides gas to Brooklyn, Staten Island, and most of Queens.
The DEC’s environmental review left open the prospect that developer Williams could supply information in coming weeks and months to address the state's concerns and revive the project. “We are not processing new applications for any new customers,” says National Grid New York President John Bruckner. Williams, he adds, “feels very confident they’ll be able to provide information to mitigate the DEC’s concerns.”
The DEC’s decision was applauded by environmentalists, who argued that the NESE pipeline would prolong the city’s reliance on fossil fuels and hamper the development of renewable energy sources, including wind and solar. They also accuse National Grid of fabricating a natural-gas shortage.
The pipeline controversy has come to a head just after the New York City Council passed the Climate Mobilization Act, which will require many large buildings, including co-ops and condos, to reduce their carbon emissions sharply in coming years – or face severe financial penalties. The Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums has said the penalties could pose “real hardship” on residents of many city co-ops and condominiums.
Kevin Law of the Long Island Association says banning the NESE pipeline would be more damaging to the New York’s regional economy than “the Amazon debacle.”
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