New York Pipeline Delay Causing Real World Consequences

New York and New Jersey have rejected construction permit requests for Williams’ Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, thanks to politicians bowing to environmental extremists who disingenuously call the project “dangerous and reckless” and vow to use any means necessary to prevent it from being built. A concerning trend has developed in which many energy infrastructure projects – like Williams’ Northeast Supply Enhancement Project – are denied permits based on ideological opposition to fossil fuel use rather than the individual project merits and fact.

But kowtowing to these groups by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is having real world consequences that are hitting the pocketbooks of small business owners in New York:

“About $400,000. That’s how much two New York City deli owners say National Grid Plc may cost them by refusing to supply natural gas to a new burger restaurant they’re planning in Brooklyn.

The men are victims of a complex face-off between the utility that supplies gas to the metropolitan area and state regulators. New York and New Jersey have denied approvals for the $1 billion Williams Cos. pipeline expansion that National Grid has said is needed to boost their gas capacity.

Williams Cos. has vowed to reapply for approval but, in the meantime, National Grid is declining to approve any new contracts to supply gas. It’s a decision that could hamstring new businesses and housing, say support groups in New York and on Long Island.

The deli owners learned in early July the utility wouldn’t accept their application for gas. Now they say they may have to cancel their plans. ‘We have already hired employees, who are sitting and waiting, asking ‘When can we come into work?’ Muhammad Quereshi, one of the men, said in a telephone interview. The denial, he said, leaves them to pay back $400,000 in business loans they expected would come from the new restaurant’s profits.

Nobody knows how many businesses are affected yet, but any business that wants to come in and requires natural gas — in particular, restaurants — will face difficulty trying to get it.

The delay is also having an environmental impact, experts note:

Business advocates say that while they understand the need for environmentally-friendly alternatives to gas, the technology for renewables isn’t there yet to meet the energy needs of the region. The decision not to approve the pipeline extension is also thwarting a regional transition from heating oil to cleaner-burning gas.

“Renewable projects are a long-term play, but they’re not here yet,” said Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association. “They can’t turn on lights, heat our homes or cool our buildings for many years to come.”

And it’s hampering economic development throughout the region:

The utility cutoff will ‘undo a lot of the success we’ve had in growing the Long Island community in the last 10 years,’ Law said.

New York City and Long Island aren’t the only areas in the state facing the issue. Westchester County was put under a moratorium on new natural gas service by Consolidated Edison Inc. in March. At the time, the County projected that the construction of 16,000 homes could be suspended.

The issue has forced some developments to be redesigned to accommodate new methods of heating, said Mitchell Pally, CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute.

Pally said he expected several projects to leave the area since “it’s hard enough to develop in Long Island. Without an adequate and sustainable energy source, it will be much more difficult.”

‘It’s definitely stopping development at a very base level,’ said Thomas Grech, president and Chief Executive Officer of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.”

Pipelines are carefully reviewed and permitted by local, state, and federal regulators as part of a rigorous, multi-year process. Study after study has proven that pipelines are the safest, most efficient, and most environmentally-friendly method of transporting the energy products that American consumers rely on every day. It’s time politicians stop playing politics with pipelines just to score points with environmental extremists.

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