Gas pipeline embargo stifles growth, hurts New Yorkers

The Albany Times-Union published an op-ed by Brigham McCown, GAIN strategic adviser and former head of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The op-ed highlights the adverse effects of New York Governor Cuomo’s moratorium on natural gas pipelines.

Due to the ban on new energy infrastructure, suppliers have had to get creative by using “virtual pipelines” like transportation by truck. These methods are less safe than pipelines. The Manhattan Institute even reported transportation by truck is almost 40 times as dangerous.  McCown describes the risks involved:

“Last month a tractor-trailer carrying compressed natural gas overturned after swerving to avoid a deer outside of Binghamton. Eighty families were forced to leave their homes, the driver of the tanker tragically lost his life, and drivers on the interstate lost hours of drive time…. one wonders whether [Cuomo] second-guessed — as many in New York now are doing — his administration’s ill-advised de-facto moratorium on pipeline infrastructure.”

The moratorium is not only a safety issue but a consumer issue, too. For example, the added transportation cost for fuel means higher costs for New Yorkers. Shortages have led to fewer new gas connections, stopping affordable housing projects and repairs to homes. As McCown explains, “The reality is that citizens require greater access to natural gas. Cuomo’s pipeline moratorium is only stifling growth and hurting customers.”

Creating new pipelines would benefit New Yorkers in numerous ways – such as less wear and tear on the roads – but Cuomo has stood by his embargo as a commitment to protect water and health even though public health can suffer in a variety of ways when people lack access to reliable energy. In addition replacing carbon-intensive shipping methods, such as by truck, with cleaner pipelines would improve the air quality and climate. While Cuomo has managed to increase costs for consumers and prioritize the less safe options of transport by truck and rail, some voices are challenging the governor’s anti-energy policies:

“For example, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission waived the authority of New York regulators to continue stalling the Constitution pipeline project, a move that could help New Yorkers break out of energy gridlock.”            

McCown concludes:

“It is hard for policymakers to worsen safety while at the same time increasing costs to consumers. Congratulations, Governor Cuomo, you have managed to do both.”

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