In an unsurprising move, the New York state authorities rejected a proposal for a new natural gas pipeline that would have supplied 400 million cu ft of natural gas daily to the state where energy demand is growing, but so is fossil fuel opposition on the highest political level.
Reuters quotes the New York Department of Environmental Conservation as saying in its reasons for the rejection of the Williams project that:
“Construction of the proposed project would result in significant water quality impacts from the re-suspension of sediments and other contaminants, including mercury and copper.”
A spokesman for Williams called the issue raised by the regulator “minor” and said the company would resubmit its application and expect to get al necessary permits “quickly.”
“The Department of Environmental Conservation raised a minor technical issue with our application for water quality certification,” said Chris Stockton, a Williams spokesman.
This might be unfounded optimism: ever since the previous governor of New York, David Paterson, introduced a moratorium on fracking in New York back in 2010, the state has become a poster city for the drive towards renewable energy. Peterson’s successor, Andrew Cuomo, banned fracking indefinitely in 2014 and in 2016 blocked the construction of the Constitution pipeline that would have transported natural gas from Pennsylvania to upstate New York and New England.
Meanwhile, demand for energy has been on the rise and so have electricity bills, and not just in New York. In January, FreightWaves.com reported that residents of the Northeastern states are being increasingly burdened by high electricity bills coupled with unreliable supplies, the root cause of which is the lack of enough natural gas pipeline capacity to bring in the fuel needed for power plants.
The Trump administration has been trying hard to clip states’ wings in energy infrastructure approval processes, but it can’t take away all their powers in this respect, not if he doesn’t want to lose the support of many a Republican governor in next year’s election. So for now the status quo seems to be unchallenged. As long as New Yorkers and others in the pipeline shortage areas are prepared to pay more for electricity, the shortage will persist and probably worsen as demand continues growing.