National Grid to NYC customers: Support the Williams Pipeline or no new service

On Monday, the leading distributor of natural gas in the
Northeast, National Grid, sent an urgent-sounding email to many of
its New York customers — not about summer energy savings, but
about why they should contact government officials to voice support
for a major fracked gas pipeline.

“Natural gas supplies are at risk in downstate New York,”
the subject line read.

In the energy company’s email, National Grid said it will not
be able to fulfill requests to expand natural gas service in
Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island unless the Northeast Enhancement
Supply Project, a new pipeline that would bring in an additional
400 million cubic feet a day of fracked natural gas to the region,
moves forward. The proposed project would span 23.5 miles from
Pennsylvania, through New Jersey, to Rockaway Peninsula in New
York. If completed, National Grid says it would the company’s
capacity by 14 percent.

Earlier this year, both New York and New Jersey
denied
permits for the project, locally called the Williams
Pipeline after the entity that would operate it, citing the
project’s potential environmental impact on water quality and
marine life. Since then, the Williams Companies has adjusted their
proposal and reapplied (via a subsidiary) for permits in both
states. New York is accepting comments from residents until July 13
— a fast-approaching deadline which may have prompted the email
to National Grid customers.

“Approval of the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Project
is needed to access the additional natural gas supplies required to
support our region,” the company told Grist via email. “Without
NESE, National Grid will not be able to supply natural gas to new
commercial, industrial and residential customers to heat their
homes or run their businesses, putting the region’s economic
growth at risk, as well as impeding state and city carbon emission
goals.”

The potential moratorium on new gas hookups has some residents
and business owners worried. They say they feel like they’re
caught in the crossfire of the political and environmental debate
over the project. “We’re very aware of the concerns of the
[Department of Environmental Conservation],” said Stephen Wangel,
president of the Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce in Long Island of the
government entity that denied the pipeline permits. “Balanced
with that is a delicate economy on Long Island that really is being
stalled by the lack of additional gas service that we’re able to
get for our business.” Wangel has pushed for the state to
reconcile environmental concerns so that construction of the
pipeline can move forward.

While some business owners may have found themselves agreeing
with the National Grid email, other customers found the company’s
message — which included a
link
to use to contact the Governor, state, local, and federal
officials to advocate for Northeast Enhancement Supply Project —
disturbing. Lee Ziesche, a community engagement coordinator for
Sane Energy Project, which helped lead a coalition against the
pipeline, called the email “unethical” and “completely
reckless.”

“To hold our whole energy system hostage so [that National
Grid’s] business model of delivering gas can survive longer than
it should is really egregious,” said Ziesche. “This is all just
a scare tactic utilities are deploying to lock us into decades more
of gas use.”

Environmental advocacy group 350.org released a
report
earlier this year countering claims that increasing
demand for natural gas necessitates the construction of the
pipeline. It was written by Suzanne Mattei, a consultant with
Lookout Hill Public Policy Associates and former Regional Director
of the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“I think that the important thing to consider here is that all
of the assertions National Grid has been making about need and
about growth have not been the subject of a public hearing,”
Mattei told Grist. “There’s been no real transparency.
They’ve simply gone out there and made assertions.”

An
investigative
report by New York-based nonprofit magazine City
Limits found that National Grid has been inconsistent in its
projections on how much gas it expects to deliver in coming years,
lowering its projected deliveries between 2016-2019. National Grid
told Grist that it expects a more than 10 percent increase in the
need for natural gas across its service area in New York City and
Long Island over the next 10 years.

A spokesman for the state’s utility regulator, Department of
Public Service, said in an email that it is “conducting an
in-depth, detailed, ongoing review of New York’s gas
infrastructure needs, and it is taking National Grid’s plans into
account.” It is already looking into a similar case involving
utility company ConEdison’s moratorium on natural gas hookups in

Westchester County
.

National Grid has called the 350.org report “misleading,”
and told Grist that it is working with other national environmental
organizations to “to shape policies that will help us achieve the
clean energy future we all want.” It commissioned its own

report
to assess greenhouse gases associated with the NESE
project and its impact on climate change. That report found that
meeting New York’s heating demands with natural gas would result
in less planet-warming emissions than using electricity or oil. But
although natural gas burns cleaner than coal or oil, other studies
have pointed to methane
leaks
associated with natural gas production which can
exacerbate increasing global average temperatures even more than
carbon.

Even if the pipeline project proceeds, the future of all fossil
fuel infrastructure in New York is uncertain. Last month, it passed
a
measure
committing the state to cutting 85 percent of its
greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. And environmental advocates like
Mattei believe that relying on natural gas won’t be enough to
avert a climate crisis or reach New York’s lofty climate
goals.

“This pipeline is an anachronism,” she said. “It’s
moving in the wrong direction and we need to be moving in the
direction of renewables.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline
National Grid to NYC customers: Support the Williams Pipeline or no
new service
on Jul 10, 2019.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News 2
National Grid to NYC customers: Support the Williams Pipeline or no new service