Ahead of May 16 decision deadline, New Yorkers—with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and more—urge Cuomo to block the pipeline by Earth Day, walk the talk on a Green New Deal
New York, NY — Over 500 New Yorkers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge this evening to demand that Governor Andrew Cuomo block the controversial Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Pipeline, which would carry fracked gas through New York Harbor. This comes hours after the New York City Council passed a #GreenNewDeal4NY, including a nearly unanimous resolution against NESE, and the #DirtyBuildings bill that sets the most progressive standards for reducing municipal emissions in the world.
The marchers join a groundswell of opposition to the project including over 16,000 New Yorkers and over 250 organizations across the state. 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.
The Stop the Williams Pipeline Coalition issued the following statement:
“Today, we took our grassroots movement to the Brooklyn Bridge to demonstrate to Governor Cuomo how New Yorkers really feel about this destructive, unneeded pipeline. Fracked gas isn’t a bridge fuel; it’s a broken promise, particularly for a Governor who supposedly supports a Green New Deal. Our message to the Governor, then, couldn’t be simpler: walk the talk, join us on the right side of history, and deny this pipeline.”
At a rally before the march, speakers included Lee Ziesche, a documentary filmmaker and an organizer with Sane Energy Project; Christine Nobiss, founder/director of Seeding Sovereignty’s SHIFT program and a member of the Plains Cree-Saulteaux of the George Gordon First Nation; LaDonna Brave Bull Allard (Ta Maka Waste Win-Her Good Earth Woman), a Lakota historian and activist, and co-founder of the Standing Rock resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline; Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; Alexandria Villaseñor, a 13-year-old climate justice activist who co-organized the youth climate strike in New York City and has been striking from school at the UN every Friday for 18 weeks; Saylor Pochan, a resident of the Rockaways and a volunteer with Surfrider Foundation NYC; and Assemblymember Robert Carroll.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams joined the crowd with a clear message to Cuomo: “Cuomo, you don’t get to say you banned fracking when you’re letting fracked gas run through New York State,” he said. “You must stand up now to prevent this pipeline from coming through New York State.”
Williams’ NESE Pipeline would run for 23 miles through Lower New York Bay from New Jersey to Queens, passing a mile and a half from Staten Island before connecting with an existing pipeline off of Rockaway Beach, the areas most devastated by and still recovering from Superstorm Sandy. Governor Cuomo and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) have until May 16 to reject, approve, or delay a key permit for 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 also completely unnecessary. National Grid, the would-be sole buyer of the pipeline’s gas, has yet to refute the report’s findings, despite threatening a moratorium on new gas hookups if the pipeline isn’t built.
Last week, Donald Trump issued two executive orders with the goal of curtailing states’ abilities to block pipelines, effectively putting the fight against the Williams NESE Pipeline—and Cuomo’s pending decision—on the national stage.
Opposition to pipelines across the country continues to grow. As communities everywhere gear up for Promise to Protect, a pledge to stand with Indigenous communities in the path of the Keystone XL Pipeline (coming to NYC April 27-28), New Yorkers are preparing for non-violent direct action to stop the Williams NESE pipeline in the event that Cuomo fails to act.
“For the past two and a half years, the Stop the Williams Pipeline Coalition has led a science and fact based campaign to persuade the Governor to follow New York State law, protect our water, and block this project,” continued the coalition. We have built tremendous political power while supporting local communities’ desire to move to a 100% renewable energy system. We are residents of a waterfront city that is already feeling the effects of the climate crisis. Yet the utilities, encouraged by Trump and backed by business associations, are pushing back to further line their pockets, keep business as usual, monopolize our lives, and serve private shareholders at the expense of public health and safety. We are proud of what we have built and look forward to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation standing with the people to help further our collective commitment to a 100% renewable New York.”
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“My demands are simple. I want world leaders to come together and agree to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in time to save our planet and my future. […] In Pennsylvania, where part of this pipeline starts, young people, and especially those young people who are poor and of color, are being sickened by the pollution from fracking. What about their futures? […] This is why the youth are mobilizing. We know what needs to happen to save our planet! We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we must transition to renewable energy and we must KEEP IT IN THE GROUND! —Alexandria Villaseñor, 13-year-old activist and co-organizer of the youth climate strike in New York City who has been striking from school at the UN every Friday
“Burying a 23.5 mile long pipeline under the waters off New York City—all for fracked gas we don’t need—is a terrible idea, and New Yorkers are staunchly opposed to it. Williams also has an abysmal safety record. The Department of Environmental Conservation has all the evidence that it needs to deny Williams a required Water Quality Certificate, and Governor Cuomo should back the DEC up to the hilt. While this is the pipeline we are fighting today, though, we know the proposed NESE pipeline is just part of an onslaught of fracked gas proposals being pushed all over New York State. From pipelines to compressor stations to power plants to fracked waste dump sites, all these projects need to be turned back decisively. New Yorkers are already building out a renewable energy infrastructure. Governor Cuomo, stop the Williams pipeline and put that money and human energy to work expanding our renewables.” —Sara Gronim, 350Brooklyn
“It has taken decades for New York City’s waters to heal from being what was once termed a dead zone and to become once again a place of critical and irreplaceable ecological value. We call on our Governor to deny Williams Company, with its abysmal safety record, the permits to construct the Williams NESE, an unnecessary, costly, dangerous, and destructive pipeline. For all New Yorkers – including the whales, dolphins, sea turtles and fish – we send this message to Cuomo: “We don’t need it, we don’t want it; stop this pipeline now!” —JK Canepa, Sane Energy Project
“On Thursday, April 18, during the UN International Indigenous Permanent Forum, we call indigenous peoples and allies to join the Indigenous contingent to urge Governor Cuomo to reject the Williams NESE fracked gas pipeline! We must protect our Earth Mother and prevent more devastation by the fossil fuel industry to indigenous nations, our women, and future generations. In New York City, original home to the Lenape, Canarsie and many from the Haudenosaunee confederacy, the pipeline being proposed to run under our New York Harbor threatens precious water, marine life, and coastal communities. Our planet home is warming, and we have few years remaining to prevent climate disaster. The fracked gas boom coincides with a plastics boom pushing us further away from stopping climate change. We must stop the pipeline to plastic and unite against the fossil fuel industry.” —Janet MacGillivray, Seeding Sovereignty
Surfrider Foundation NYC is urging Governor Cuomo to oppose Williams’ proposed NESE pipeline. If built, the pipeline will negatively impact air and water quality, pose a huge threat to marine life, and disrupt fishing, swimming, and other recreational activities. The estimated cost of this project is nearly a billion dollars, a cost that National Grid customers will have to pick up. This pipeline will further lock New York City into fossil fuel infrastructure. We should be investing in clean, sustainable energy, such as wind and solar, instead of fossil fuels. By blocking the construction of this dangerous and unnecessary pipeline, New York State has an opportunity to be the climate leader that we know it can be. —Noelle Piccone, Surfrider Foundation NYC
“If there’s any truth behind Governor Cuomo’s Green New Deal rhetoric, he’ll reject the Williams NESE pipeline outright.The pipeline would undermine Cuomo’s own climate goals while wreaking havoc on New York’s vulnerable coastal communities, which stand to lose the most to storms and sea level rise brought on by the fossil-fueled climate crisis.” —Laura Shindell, Food & Water Watch
“The impact of a leak or an explosion from the Williams NESE pipeline would be a catastrophic blow to the economic, recreational, and spiritual heart of New York City’s coastal communities, all of which are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. Our coastal waters are cleaner than they have been in the last 100 years, and the visible presence of various species of marine life and birds is a testament to this fact. There is no need to use twentieth-century energy infrastructure to solve a twenty first-century energy problem, as New York State works on becoming a leader in renewable energy sources. Let’s focus our wealth of financial, scientific, and labor forces to build projects that look forward to a new way that will help us all continue to live in the communities we love.” —Jeremy Jones, Rockaway Beach Civic Association
“As residents of Rockaway we have seen the positive changes in our coastal waters over the course of our lives. We’ve watched first hand as they evolved from having no life and dead carcasses strewn on the sand to being full of fish, dolphins, and whales. The Williams Pipeline threatens our ocean and will undo the amazing progress that we’ve made in rejuvenating the life in our seas. The construction of the pipeline, the fracked gas it would carry, and the potential for disaster not only poses great threats to our marine life and their ecosystems, but to our home, our families, and our communities.“ —Jean Belford, Rockaway Women for Progress
“If Andrew Cuomo really wants to stand up to Trump and help build a Green New Deal, he’ll stop the Williams fracked gas pipeline. This pipeline would lock us into decades of fossil fuel use when science and justice require a rapid transition to 100% renewable energy. The pushback we’re seeing from Williams and utilities is a true testament to the power we’re building. New Yorkers on the frontlines of climate destruction are already hard at work building real solutions to scale with the crisis. New York has the chance to be a real model for climate justice, and we look forward to Cuomo joining us.” —Cata Romo, 350.org Fossil Free New York Campaigner
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. Full copies of testimonies are available 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
Contacts: Robert Wood, firstname.lastname@example.org, 585-261-2795
Lindsay Meiman, email@example.com, 347-460-9082