New York State Rejects the Williams Fracked Gas Pipeline

UPDATE, 5/16: Late last night, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection also denied the required water quality certification for the pipeline, the icing on the cake to New York's denial! As in NY, construction of the pipeline in NJ would have polluted important bodies of water like Raritan Bay.

In a sweeping victory for communities across the region, Governor Cuomo has blocked the Williams pipeline from moving forward. Citing the potential of the pipeline to harm New York’s waterways, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied, for a third time, a key permit for the dirty, costly fracked gas project.

image courtesy Stop The Williams Pipeline Coalition

The Williams pipeline, also known as the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, would have transported fracked gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey, crossing under New York Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean, and finally terminating off the Rockaways in New York City.

The project is anathema to New York’s nation-leading climate law and runs counter to the state’s legacy of environmental leadership. Specifically, the Williams pipeline would have:

  • Perpetuated New York’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels, which threaten our communities and climate, especially at a time when we need to swiftly scale-up the transition to clean energy.  A new gas pipeline would have contradicted our visionary state climate law, which mandates that the state achieve carbon neutrality, and effectively requires that we leave fossil fuels where they belong—in the ground.
  • Polluted some of New York’s most important bodies of water, like the New York Harbor and Atlantic Bight, injuring and even killing many of the diverse aquatic species that live here, like the endangered North Atlantic right whale, the endangered fin whale, and the endangered Atlantic sturgeon. In its decision, DEC once again noted -- and Williams has in the past conceded -- that construction of the pipeline would kick up toxic sediment that contains heavy metals, including copper and mercury, at levels exceeding New York limits for these contaminants. NRDC’s full comments on the pipeline can be found here.

The pipeline’s rejection comes after over three years of powerful grassroots advocacy from across New York and New Jersey, with tens of thousands of people, including thousands of NRDC members, speaking out against the project. 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—all joined in solidarity with environmental and social justice groups against the misbegotten project.

Instead of permitting this billion-dollar pipeline, New York can continue to build momentum around clean energy sources of the future, not fracked gas relics of the past. Today’s rejection of the Williams Pipeline will not only prevent more water pollution but will also move us toward a cleaner New York and region. We thank Governor Cuomo and the DEC for holding firm and shelving this reckless project.

You can thank Governor Cuomo and the DEC for stopping this project in its tracks by tweeting them here.

About the Authors

Rob Friedman

Policy Advocate, Environmental Justice, Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program
Blog Post

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied a key permit for the project, citing its dangerous impacts to waterways—but this fight is far from being over.

Blog Post

But the fight is not over, and with our allies, we’ll use every tool in the kit to stop this dangerous pipeline from ever being built.

Blog Post

Our waterways are not a garbage dump! Tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny the Williams Pipeline's request to dump toxic dredged sediment into the New York-New Jersey waters.

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