Environmental campaigners celebrated Wednesday what they framed as a victory for people power after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo publicly declared his opposition to a fracked gas pipeline project.
"We have taken a position: We're against the pipeline," Cuomo told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show. "That's our position."
At issue is the proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE), commonly referred to as the Williams Pipeline, which would add on to existing infrastructure to link the fossil fuel from Pennsylvania to New York, passing under New York Harbor.
Gas distributor National Grid put a moratorium on new gas installations until the pipeline project is approved, citing supply deficiencies. The move prompted an inquiry by Attorney General Letitia James and drew the ire of activists as well as Cuomo.
"If they're extorting people, and wrongfully turning off gas service to homes to create political pressure, I'm not negotiating over that," said Cuomo in his remarks to WNYC. "That's extortion. That's a crime."
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Cuomo's comments were welcomed by the Stop the Wiliams Pipeline Coalition, which is organized by groups including 350 Brooklyn, Food and Water Watch, and New York Communities for Change.
"This is the clearest sign yet that we are winning this fight," the coalition said, "and that National Grid—with its fake gas shortage, abusive tactics, and attempts at extortion—is losing it miserably."
"The governor's opposition is a victory for us and for New Yorkers," the coalition added, uring Cuomo to deny the Williams Pipeline "and all other pipelines and gasinfrastructure projects across the state—for good."
In May, the state rejected the project. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in a statement, said, "Construction of the NESE pipeline project is projected to result in water quality violations and fails to meet New York State's rigorous water quality standards." Energy company Williams has reapplied for a permit.
Governor Cuomo was right on this morning, as he effectively buried the climate-destroying Williams pipeline proposal:— New York Communities for Change (@nychange) September 24, 2019
“We’re against the pipeline.”
We fossil fuel executive tears
Now... uhhh... about that Green New Deal, Gov #StopTheWilliamsPipeline #GNDUprising pic.twitter.com/cXRND0bn7n