In a rousing victory for environmentalists, on May 15th the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation rejected the proposal of the Oklahoma based Williams Companies to lay a 37 mile liquid natural gas pipeline through New York harbor and the New Jersey/New York Raritan watershed. Citing concerns related to copper and mercury contamination that would occur during construction of the pipeline, the DEC note that construction of the project would result in “violations of water quality standards” and that the project as a whole failed to meet New York State’s rigorous water quality standards. Officials in New Jersey must also weigh in on the project in June.
Questions were also raised about the necessity of a pipeline to carry fracked, liquid natural gas to the New York City area. New York State banned fracking in 2014. Williams Companies alleged that the pipeline would help to speed up the use of technologies that could replace the use of fuel sources that emit more carbon dioxide than natural gas. The company claimed it would be the equivalent of taking 500,000 cars off the road. Additionally, Williams said that without the additional energy source, billions of dollars in infrastructure and development projects would grind to a halt. Environmentalists denied the Williams’ claims, saying that there was no evidence to support the claim that there were demands for liquid natural gas that were currently unmet. During the public comment period, the DEC received over 14,000 responses, 90% of them opposed to the project.
Activists also claimed that the pipeline would increase the region’s dependence on fossil fuels and contribute to climate change. Activists opposing the pipeline were joined by Mayor Di Blasio, and 11 U.S. Representative who sent a letter to Governor Cuomo in advance of the DEC’s decision on May 15.