May 3, 2019

FERC approves controversial Williams fracked gas pipeline

May 3, 2019
Contact: Lee Ziesche, Sane Energy Project, [email protected], +1 (954) 415-6228

FERC approves controversial Williams fracked gas pipeline, putting fate of project in hands of NY Governor Cuomo and NJ Governor Murphy

Governor Cuomo must decide on NY permits by May 16; Governor Murphy must decide on NJ permits by June 5

Washington, D.C – Today the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Williams Transco’s application to build the controversial Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline through New York Harbor. The project, which would transport fracked gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey out to an existing pipeline off the coast of the Rockaways, still requires permits from New York State and New Jersey to begin construction.

The Stop the Williams Pipeline Coalition in New York issued the following statement:

“As expected, FERC acted as a rubber stamp for the fossil fuel industry in approving the Williams NESE fracked gas pipeline, ignoring over 6,000 comments from New Yorkers who oppose the project because of the disastrous impacts it would have on our waters and climate. Now it’s up to Governor Cuomo and the DEC to stand up to Trump, who wants to drastically curtail the ability of states to block these projects. If Cuomo is serious about defending our environment and a Green New Deal for New York, he will stop the Williams Pipeline.”

FERC Commissioner Richard Glick, one of four ruling commissioners, issued the sole dissent in the approval, writing:

“Today’s order suffers from two fatal flaws, both of which are a function of the Commission’s continued refusal to consider the environmental consequences of natural gas infrastructure projects. First, the Commission again refuses to assess the significance of the Project’s contribution to climate change, while at the same time asserting that the Project in its entirety will not have significant environmental impacts. […] Second, the Commission refuses to identify or consider the Project’s reasonably foreseeable impacts on upstream or downstream [greenhouse gas] emissions. Each flaw is sufficient in itself to render today’s order inconsistent with the law, arbitrary and capricious, and not the product of reasoned decision making.”

Commenting on the commission’s refusal to assess greenhouse gas emissions while declaring the pipeline environmentally safe, Commissioner Glick continued:

“That is the equivalent of concluding that an action known to be dangerous is actually safe because the majority claims not to know exactly how dangerous it is. In addition to being ludicrous, that reasoning fails to give climate change the serious consideration it deserves and that the law demands.”

Opposition to the project is widespread and formidable, including over 16,000 New Yorkers and over 250 organizations across the state that have opposed the project. In march, 60+ elected officials—including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, State Senator Julia Salazar, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams—signed a letter calling on Governor Cuomo to stop the pipeline. In April, the New York City Council passed a near-unanimous resolution condemning the project.

A detailed report released last month, authored by a former regional director of the NYSDEC, proved that the proposed pipeline is not only dangerous but completely unnecessary. National Grid, the would-be sole buyer of the pipeline’s gas, has yet to refute the report’s findings, despite claiming a gas shortage and threatening to end new customer hookups if the pipeline isn’t approved.

Governor Cuomo and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have until May 16 to approve or deny state permits. Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection have until June 6.

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Additional Quotes

“As expected, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved another high-pressure interstate gas pipeline, proving once again that they are not regulators, but facilitators for the fossil fuel industry. Given that FERC will receive a large fee for this approval due to our faulty system, this is one more reason that Governor Cuomo needs to demonstrate to New Yorkers and to the nation that he is willing to stand up for our health, safety, democracy, and climate.” —Kim Fraczek, Director of Sane Energy Project

“FERC has proven, yet again, that they are an agency of foxes guarding the hen house. All eyes are now on Governor Cuomo to see if he’ll live up to his lofty climate rhetoric and say no to this climate-wrecking pipeline. Climate champions don’t build fracked gas infrastructure. Period. —Laura Shindell, New York Organizer for Food & Water Watch

“It is absurd yet unsurprising that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has decided to approve the Williams NESE Pipeline, a 23-mile fracked gas disaster that would poison our water and climate for decades to come. FERC has proven, once again, that they are hardly more than an arm of the fossil fuel industry, assuring that a Fortune 500 company gets its billion-dollar pipeline while the communities that must live with it are left to suffer. They have failed to assess the climate emissions of this project, and have written off the harm it would do to our harbor as necessary collateral damage. It is now up to Governor Cuomo and the DEC to step into this regulatory void and stop this pipeline for good.” —Robert Wood, 350Brooklyn

“Not surprisingly, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the Williams NESE pipeline. As Commissioner Glick states in his dissent, “[o]nce again, the Commission refuses to consider the consequences its actions have for climate change.” While the Trump administration takes us backwards on climate change, New York State must take proactive steps to move us to a renewable energy future, one step of which is to block this dangerous and unnecessary proiect.” —Noelle Picone, Surfrider Foundation, NYC Chapter



MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Members of the Stop the Williams Pipeline Coalition, and author of False Demand, a report showing the lack of need for the pipeline, are available for interview upon request.

The Stop the Williams Pipeline coalition is organized by 350Brooklyn,, Food and Water Watch, New York Communities for Change, Rockaway Beach Civic Association, Sane Energy Project, and Surfrider NYC Chapter

For more, explore this media pack and visit

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