Pipe dream: Cuomo temporarily rejects pipeline off Coney Island coast

Go frack yourself: Protesters took to the streets on April 19 to demand Cuomo reject the Williams Pipeline permit, which he did on May 16.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration temporarily rejected a permit to build a massive pipeline off the Coney Island Coast on May 16, in what activists claim is a major victory for environmental preservation.

“This is a huge win and will stop a dangerous fracked gas pipeline from passing through New York Harbor,” the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a statement.

The pipeline, officially called the Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement Pipeline, was slated to transport hydrofracked gas 23 miles off the shore of Southern Brooklyn, from New Jersey to the Rockaways.

Pipeline construction required approval from the Cuomo administration’s Department of Environmental Conservation, which announced the decision to deny approval of the Water Quality Certification in a statement.

“Because the department does not have reasonable assurances that construction and operation of the project would meet all applicable water quality standards, it is denying the WQC Application without prejudice,” the department said.

Denying the permit “without prejudice” allows Williams Transco, the Oklahoma based energy company proposing the project, to change and resubmit its application to the state. A spokesman for the gas company called the rejection “technical” and promised they would expediently resubmit the permit request.

“The Department of Environmental Conservation raised a minor technical issue with our application for water quality certification,” said Chris Stockton. “Our team will be evaluating the issue and resubmitting the application quickly.”

If approved, the pipeline would take more than a year, and cost more than $900 million to construct, according to a New York City Council report.

The pipeline, which would run just two miles off the Southern Brooklyn coast, would supply natural gas to National Grid, which supplies energy to customers in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

In the lead up to the department’s decision, fellow energy company Con Edison, which shares energy transmission infrastructure with National Grid, sent a letter to elected leaders threatening a possible moratorium of new customers if the pipeline was not built.

“National Grid has been clear about their potential inability to serve new gas customers absent new interstate pipeline infrastructure, and Con Edison shares those concerns,” said spokesman Kyle Kimball.

Nevertheless, the pipeline’s rejection is being celebrated as a win for climate advocacy, including by the newest presidential contender, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who tweeted his thoughts on the decision.

“Our city’s message was loud and clear: we’re ending our dependence on fossil fuels,” he said.

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

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