New York State has denied water-quality certification for the Williams pipeline, also known as the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, or NESE. The Williams pipeline would have transported fracked gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey, crossing under New York Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean, finally terminating in the Rockaways in New York City. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied the key permit for the project, citing its dangerous impacts to New York’s waterways—but this fight is far from being over.
The Williams pipeline is a dangerous project for many reasons.
First, it would perpetuate our dependence on the dirty fossil fuels, which threaten our communities and climate, instead of helping us move to a clean energy future. Second, the pipeline would pollute some of our most important bodies of water, injuring the diverse aquatic species that call New York Harbor home. In its decision, DEC noted (and Williams has previously admitted) that construction of the pipeline would kick up sediment that contains toxic heavy metals—like copper and mercury—at levels that will exceed New York limits for these dangerous contaminants. Williams has also acknowledged that endangered species like the Atlantic sturgeon would be harmed during construction. NRDC’s comments on the pipeline can be found here.
The rejection of this dangerous fracked gas pipeline comes after over three years of advocacy by organizations from across New York and New Jersey. Politicians—including New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and a coalition of local members of Congress led by Representative Jerry Nadler—have all joined in solidarity with environmental and social justice groups against the project.
Williams can still reapply for a water-quality certification, so New York State could still approve the pipeline at a later date. But for now, the pipeline is stopped in its tracks. We now turn to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to also stop the pipeline by issuing its own water-quality certification denial.
There is simply no excuse for approving this reckless project. Every step required to construct the Williams pipeline has the potential to jeopardize water quality and marine life and will only perpetuate our dependence on dirty fossil fuels. Along with our allies, we’ll use every tool in the kit to stop this dangerous pipeline from ever being built.