Another Project Falls Victim to New York’s Pipeline Blockade
New York and New Jersey’s recent decision to block the Northeast Supply Enhancement project could put into jeopardy millions of homes which will require natural gas for heating during the 2021 winter season. The planned $1 billion pipeline would have brought an additional 400 million cubic feet of natural gas per day into New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that New York has ignored the reality that its citizens largely rely on natural gas for electricity as well as how natural gas provides clean and efficient fuel safely to customers across the country.
New York Continues Its Reckless and Ill-Guided Fight Against Natural Gas
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s denial of a Clean Water Act certificate and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s similar move continues a reckless course of action for the entire region, blocking constituents from accessing natural gas to efficiently heat their homes and enjoy electricity without disruptions.
Despite the NESE project receiving an acceptable environmental impact statement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission nearly half a year ago, New York blocked the project with claims that it could harm water quality, while New Jersey claimed there was no “compelling public need.” Yet both of these arguments are incorrect.
There is certainly a huge need for additional natural gas in New York and New Jersey. Utility National Grid has made it clear that it cannot support new customers without additional natural gas infrastructure in the region. The utility was so desperate for additional access to natural gas that it had to issue a months-long moratorium on new natural gas hook-ups, only changing course when Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened to revoke National Grid’s license to operate.
Despite creating a catch-22 for National Grid—forcing the company to continue suppling natural gas while blocking the infrastructure that would make it possible—New York seems oblivious to the very real consequences that could befall its citizens. According to National Grid, New York City could experience natural gas shortages during extreme cold weather in the upcoming 2022-2023 winter season.
What’s more, pipelines do not create water safety issues when they are properly constructed and maintained, and pipeline safety has only improved. As the American Petroleum Institute’s and the Association of Oil Pipelines’ newly released 2019 Pipeline Safety Excellence Performance Report explains, pipeline safety continues to improve with fewer incidents impacting the environment.
Higher Energy Prices in the Tristate Area
Unfortunately, New York and New Jersey’s decision will ultimately make energy prices rise for people in their states, coming at an economically difficult time for the region hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, New York relies on natural gas for nearly 46 percent of its electricity needs, but it only has .05 percent of the nation’s natural gas reserves. This imbalance, coupled with a manufactured shortage of the natural resource through blocked infrastructure projects, will have a poor consequence for consumers who should be able to benefit from the state’s proximity to natural gas reserves and the energy source’s low cost and efficiency.
As the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America warned,
“Every blocked natural gas pipeline means higher energy bills for working families in New York. This decision was not about science or water quality. It was about politics.”
New York and New Jersey need only to look at their New England neighbors to see how natural gas prices spike during the winter months. Sadly, the region had to turn towards importing LNG from Russia—imports which have cost the region $670 million more than if they had been able to access domestic natural gas.