Opinion: Gov. Murphy must oppose Williams Transco pipeline

Raritan Bay Williams Transco pipeline

CINDY ZIPF / CLEAN OCEAN ACTION – Williams Transco, a mega-fossil fuel supplier is proposing a massive pipeline called Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE) to bring needless fracked methane gas from Pennsylvania to New York City via New Jersey, the bay, and ocean.  If approved, the pipeline and the compressor station will result in the expulsion of millions of tons of air pollution, destruction of important natural habitats, and dumping of over a million tons of toxin laden muck and 670,000 gallons of drilling fluids into the marine ecosystem.  The methane will go to National Grid of NY who is using shameful tactics to attempt to force citizens and elected officials to accept the project. Thankfully, the tactics are backfiring.  With permits pending in both states that will determine if the project will move forward, NY’s leaders have recently indicated strong opposition. Governor Murphy has remained silent.

In separate interviews on the WNYC Brian Lehrer Show, both Governor Cuomo and NYC Mayor de Blasio affirmed their strong opposition to the NESE pipeline.  On a September 24, 2019 appearance, Lehrer specifically asked Governor Cuomo about the pipeline. Cuomo stated that “we have taken a position, we’re against the pipeline. That’s our position.” Similarly, New York City Mayor de Blasio also came out against the pipeline, remarking that he “thinks it’s a bad idea because it continues to focus us on fossil fuel, in a world where we need to get away from fossil fuel.”

Both Cuomo and de Blasio also expressed frustration over the actions of National Grid, the NY area natural gas provider who placed a moratorium on hook-ups to local customers falsely blaming the lack of approval for NESE. This moratorium has created a hostage crisis for many people and businesses, including those who had simply turned off their gas supply due to renovations, only to be told it will not be turned back on.  With no evidence to support the moratorium, National Grid’s tactics are currently under investigation by the NY Public Service Commission.  National Grid is using its monopoly on power to gridlock renovations on homes and businesses, unless they get the pipeline approved.

The opposition from leaders in New York casts even more spotlight on Governor Murphy’s Administration to do the same.  The NJDEP is considering whether or not to sacrifice air, land, and water quality for a project to supply NYC with methane gas they do not want or need. New Jersey should have nothing to do with supporting and expanding fossil fuel use, especially for a monopoly company that exploits their community if they don’t get what they want. And with Cuomo and de Blasio saying no, New Jersey has even more reason to do the same.

The evidence builds every day – the Williams Transco Pipeline is out of touch with reality and a healthy future. Governor Murphy must permanently say no to NESE. Despite denying the initial application for the project back in May, but leaving the door open for the company to re-apply, the Murphy Administration has not taken a public position on the pipeline.

Cindy Zipf is executive director of Clean Ocean Action.


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