New Yorkers celebrate the decision, yet vow to continue fighting the project until it is stopped for good.
Trenton, NJ – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy today conditionally denied two of the last needed New Jersey permits for the Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline, putting yet another hurdle in the way of the controversial project.
Both New Jersey and New York have now denied permits that the pipeline needs to be built, yet they have done so in a manner (“without prejudice”) that allows the company to reapply as long as the revised application provides additional measures to mitigate environmental harm. Williams has already reapplied for the New York permits, and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has opened a public comment period on the application that ends on June 13.
The Stop the Williams Pipeline Coalition issued the following statement:
“Like New York, New Jersey recognizes that the construction of the Williams Pipeline would have serious impacts on our environment. We expect Williams to reapply in New Jersey as they have in New York, but the truth remains: there’s no safe way to build this fracked gas pipeline when it comes to our waters and climate. It’s clear that both New Jersey and New York have been listening to the massive public outcry against this project. As the fight against the Williams Pipeline reignites here in New York, we will escalate our opposition and call on Governor Cuomo and the DEC to stop the pipeline for good.”
Proposed by the Oklahoma-based company Williams/Transco, the Williams NESE project is slated to move fracked gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey and New York Harbor and into New York City and Long Island via the Rockaways. It would require, among other things, the construction of a new compressor station in Franklin Township, New Jersey and 23 miles of pipeline through Raritan Bay and Lower New York Bay.
Project opponents have long contended that it would cause irreparable harm to New York and New Jersey waters by churning up industrial metals and chemicals in the seafloor, pollute the air around the compressor station, lock ratepayers into fossil fuel use for decades, contribute to more storms like Hurricane Sandy, and make it impossible to meet regional climate action goals at a time of climate emergency.
In its revised application to the NYDEC, Williams claims that problems with its initial application can be mitigated largely by slowed dredging speeds and pauses in construction activity. Yet activists have called the new application—which was submitted mere days after the first one was rejected—hastily thrown together, claiming that it uses data in manipulative ways and fails to account for how slowed construction activity will respect the migratory calendar of endangered species, among other reasons.
New York opposition to the pipeline remains widespread and formidable, including over 19,000 New Yorkers and over 250 organizations across the state standing strong against 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. In May, New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio opposed the project as the opposition moved decisively to the national level, with U.S. representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jerrold Nadler, Hakeem Jeffries, and 8 other congress members publicly denouncing the project.
While New Yorkers are celebrating Governor Murphy’s conditional decision to deny the “Keystone-like” project, they are calling on the NYDEC to now reject the Williams pipeline for good, vowing to keep fighting until Governor Cuomo bans all new fossil fuel infrastructure altogether.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Members of the Stop the Williams Pipeline Coalition, and author of False Demand report, available for interview upon request.
The Stop the Williams Pipeline coalition is organized by 350Brooklyn, 350.org, Food and Water Watch, New York Communities for Change, Rockaway Beach Civic Association, Sane Energy Project, and Surfrider NYC Chapter