(The Center Square) – Williams Companies said on Thursday that while it may appeal decisions made by officials in New Jersey and New York last week, the energy company will not seek to refile permit applications for a natural gas expansion project in those states.
The proposed natural pipeline additions to existing infrastructure would have provided enough fuel to power more than 2 million homes daily. In addition, it would have provided enough work for thousands of construction jobs across three states.
Last week, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation turned down a Clean Water Act certification for the Northeast Supply Enhancement project, saying the plan by the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company (Transco), a Williams subsidiary, to add more than 23 miles of pipeline in New York Bay would affect water quality and impact marine life.
“New York is not prepared to sacrifice the State's water quality for a project that is not only environmentally harmful but also unnecessary to meet New York's energy needs,” the DEC said in a statement last Friday.
In all, the project called for Williams to lay 37 miles of new pipe in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, along with adding a compressor station in Somerset County, N.J. The new pipelines, which would have complemented existing infrastructure, would have provided the northeastern United States with about 400 million more cubic feet of natural gas on a daily basis.
After New York issued its denial, New Jersey followed suit. In a letter to Transco, state officials said without approval from New York, which would have been the ultimate beneficiary of the pipeline project, the company’s application for a permit in New Jersey was “rendered effectively moot.”
In a statement to The Center Square, Williams said it was disappointed with the decisions.
“While we continue to believe in the fundamentals of this project, we will not refile in New Jersey or New York at this time,” the statement read. “The decision to pause this important infrastructure project is unfortunate for the region as the design and construction would have generated valuable economic activity in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York and would have directly and indirectly supported more than 3,000 jobs during the construction period.
“Natural gas remains a critical part of our country’s energy mix that creates affordability for utility customers and ensures reliability while renewables scale. Williams is committed to meeting the demand for a clean alternative to heating oil and diesel, and we are prepared to deliver reliable and affordable natural gas to meet the clean energy needs in the areas in which we operate.”
The company has 30 days to decide if it wants an appeal hearing in both states.
While environmental groups hailed the states’ decisions, a nonpartisan New York free-market think tank raised concerns. The Empire Center noted that the New York rejection letter stated the pipeline project did not fall in line with a climate law the state legislature passed last year.
Ken Girardin, a policy analyst for the Empire Center, wrote that the Cuomo Administration using the law to deny the permit serves as a “bad omen,” especially when the coronavirus pandemic has wrecked the economy.
“The Climate Act’s open-ended regulatory powers will expose New Yorkers to even costlier moves in coming years,” he wrote.