‘Cuomo isn’t as stupid as his pipeline opposition. He’s only playing a head fake game…’
(Dan E. Way, Liberty Headlines) In the wake of widespread power outages in July that all but shut down Manhattan, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is leading a green parade of state politicians charging toward a renewable-powered economy while demanding expansion of natural gas service—and threatening providers if they don’t deliver.
The absurdity of simultaneously pursuing those discordant goals appears to be lost on the renewable enthusiasts.
Cuomo, who has attacked utilities before, is unleashing the power of the state to possibly punish National Grid, a natural gas utility, for doing exactly what he champions—curtailing fossil-fuel use.
At the center of the quarrel is a proposed gas pipeline National Grid says it needs to be able to provide more home and business hookups.
Politicians like Brooklyn Democratic Assemblyman William Colton oppose it. He is a cosponsor of the state’s Green New Deal to go carbon-free, yet is in an uproar because National Grid won’t increase its carbon footprint with new gas hookups.
Cuomo sent a letter Tuesday to the Department of Public Service, which regulates utilities, in response to National Grid’s announced moratorium on providing service to new customers.
He said the freeze on new hookups, refusal to restore service that was suspended to allow work on existing buildings, and rejecting service that was requested before the moratorium went into effect “could endanger the health and safety of New Yorkers.”
Cuomo directed DPS “(1) to take any steps within your authority to ensure that National Grid immediately provides service to customers affected by such refusals, as appropriate, and (2) to impose appropriate penalties and sanctions. Further, if National Grid is unable to provide safe, affordable and reliable service to existing customers, or is unable to properly plan so that it is able to serve new customers, I direct you to consider alternatives to National Grid as franchisee for some or all of the areas it currently serves.”
Cuomo’s posturing did not include any acceptance of responsibility for the Department of Environmental Conservation he controls, which refused to issue a required water permit for the Williams/Northeast Supply Enhancement.
That killed the $1 billion New York section of a proposed pipeline carrying natural gas from Pennsylvania to New York. The project was supported by unions and businesses as a jobs-creating economic game-changer.
The New York Post editorial board took Cuomo to task for killing the pipeline.
“Though DEC cited (bogus) potential ‘impacts’ on water quality, the real reason Cuomo has nixed pipelines is to pander to enviro-wackos who demand an immediate end to all fossil-fuel use. Ironically, a gas shortage will only lead to greater reliance on oil, which is far worse for climate change,” the Post stated in a May 16 editorial titled “Blame Cuomo when the gas goes out.”
National Grid said it can’t fill new orders without the additional gas infrastructure, which would increase its capacity by 14 percent. Con Edison, another primary New York utility, also has a moratorium on extending gas service that city leaders worry could cause $1 billion in proposed development to grind to a halt.
“Gas constraints are no secret,” ConEd spokesman Mike Clendenin told CBS New York. “Without new gas supplies, we can’t keep hooking up new gas customers.”
Meanwhile, some see Cuomo’s contradictory messaging as political guile.
“Cuomo isn’t as stupid as his pipeline opposition,” said Shaledirectories.com, an online publication serving the oil and gas industry. “He’s only playing a head fake game, hoping and praying FERC and/or the courts will give him the gas and the street cred for fighting it.”