Posted on May 16, 2019
Controversial pipeline project looms over New York’s bold climate agenda
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) May 16, 2019
A controversial pipeline has emerged as a major test of New York’s clean energy ambitions, at a time when the state is marketing itself as a leader on climate action. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has touted his new energy budget as a “Green New Deal” for the state, one that commits New York to 100% clean power by 2040. But a proposed pipeline connecting natural gas fields from Pennsylvania to New York and New Jersey is jeopardizing that goal, activists say. Williams Companies, the operator of the proposed pipeline, has argued that the project would address a looming fuel shortage in the region. Williams needs the support of both New York and New Jersey, something that has put Cuomo in a precarious position.
“[It’s] a high stakes decision that will determine whether New York City and New York state [are] going to transition off fossil fuels,” said Pete Sikora, climate and inequality campaigns director for New York Communities for Change. Sikora said that the pipeline presents a test for New York’s leadership on climate issues, one that could be critical to assessing its commitment to climate action going forward. “Stopping the Williams pipeline is a necessary condition,” he said. Climate activists in New York have secured a number of significant victories recently. Cuomo’s budget aims to pave the way for the state to achieve “economy-wide carbon neutrality” by 2040, in addition to accounting for a “just transition to clean energy.”
Environmentalists have cheered that progression and hailed the state’s overall progress on climate action. But the Williams pipeline has emerged as a major point of contention. “There’s a difference between rhetoric and reality,” said Sikora, who underscored that Cuomo’s action on the Williams pipeline will send an important message about his approach to climate change. “The governor is talking about a Green New Deal but the state in fact is lagging and needs to step up.”