The reality of energy development in New York and Pennsylvania couldn’t be more different – and this week’s decisions involving two major pipelines further demonstrates this fact.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) on Thursday approved the remaining three permits for the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline – choosing facts and science over activists’ rhetoric and shenanigans. As Williams spokesperson Chris Stockton explained following the decision, this vital $3 billion project “will leverage existing infrastructure to deliver economic growth and help millions of Americans gain access to affordable Pennsylvania-produced clean-burning natural gas.”
At the same time Thursday, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) denied the final permit to build a lateral extension of the Millennium Pipeline in New York. The proposed extension was designed for the specific purpose of supplying Marcellus gas from Pennsylvania to a new natural gas-fired power plant in Wawayanda, NY. And according to Millennium spokeswoman Michelle Hook, NYDEC’s decision had nothing to do with potential environmental impacts from the pipeline itself and was instead driven by potential greenhouse gas emissions from that power plant, which is already under construction. Hook explained,
“What is clear is that the NYSDEC did not deny our water quality certificate based on any environmental impacts we would have on water or wetlands. We have addressed every request they have made of us related to water crossings. According to a letter from DEC, the agency’s issue is with the power plant’s greenhouse gas emissions and not any direct environmental impact of our pipeline.” (emphasis added)
What’s even more confusing about that decision is that without this pipeline, the plant could run on fuel oil which has greater emissions than natural gas-fired facilities.
Once completed, the pipeline will bring Marcellus gas from the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania across 37 miles of the state to be sold in markets from New York to Alabama and also be turned into liquefied natural gas (LNG) to supply international communities.
In response to the PADEP decision, Martha Clatterbuck, co-founder of Lancaster Against Pipelines, which targeted Atlantic Sunrise, told Lancaster Online, “We are not New York.” I, along with 87 percent of my fellow Pennsylvanians who agree developing infrastructure will have a positive impact in the Commonwealth, are breathing a collective sigh of relief over that fact. That’s because contradictory to Clatterbuck’s condescending statement that “New York takes more pride in the environment than does Pennsylvania,” we’ve learned that it isn’t an either/or decision between our economy and our environment.
In fact, while our neighbors to the north continue to wonder how the state plans to keep the lights on, the Marcellus Shale is providing economic opportunity, reduced emissions and energy security just over the border here in Pa.