Tell FERC to Stop the Williams Pipeline in the NY/NJ Harbor
Chairperson Glick and Commissioners of FERC
Almost a year after our grassroots activism defeated the Williams NESE Pipeline, Transco is trying to bring the project back from the dead!
On March 19, 2021 Transco requested a two-year extension from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build the pipeline and get it in service.
Both New York and New Jersey have resoundingly said no to this pipeline and rejected needed permits, but Williams said they would reapply in both states this year, and need FERC to extend the clock.
Tell FERC Chairperson Glick and all the FERC Commissioners to deny Williams its extension request and stop the pipeline for good!
Chairperson Glick and Commissioners of FERC
From: [Your Name]
For the past three years since their first application to FERC, New Yorkers have vehemently opposed Williams Transco’s proposal to build a 23-mile long pipeline to carry fracked gas under New York Harbor, along the coast of Staten Island, then across the harbor south of Brooklyn to join an existing pipeline four miles off the Rockaways.
Tens of thousands of New Yorkers have spoken out against this pipeline including frontline and environmental justice communities that are already suffering the devastating consequences of climate change and fossil fuel pollution. Elected officials on the local, state, and federal levels have stood beside New Yorkers in strong opposition to this project.
We urge you to deny Transco’s request for a two-year extension to construct and place into service the Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Pipeline for the following reasons:
**NEW YORK DENIED THE WILLIAMS PIPELINE BECAUSE IT WOULD HAVE SIGNIFICANT WATER QUALITY IMPACTS- THAT HASN'T CHANGED**
-This is a major construction project covering multiple states. Williams' application was given careful consideration by the relevant agencies of both New York and New Jersey before being denied for cause.
-In its denial, the NYS DEC found that the Williams Pipeline would have “significant water quality impacts from the resuspension of sediments and other contaminants, including mercury and copper.”
-The NYS DEC found that the Williams Pipeline would “cause impacts to habitats due to the disturbance of shellfish beds and other benthic resources.” This would be “especially problematic within the productive hard clam area in Raritan Bay” which is considered a “sensitive habitat” and a “critical resource area”.
-New York Harbor is finally beginning to heal from a long history of industrial contamination. We’re seeing whales, dolphins and other sea life return. The Williams NESE pipeline would reverse all this progress by resuspending contamination including mercury, copper, arsenic, silver, nickel, lead, zinc and PCBs.
-In its request for an extension, Williams fails to cite any instance in which FERC granted an extension of time to start construction where the state had denied a pipeline permit and an appeal of the state’s decision was not pending. It has been almost a year since the DEC denied the 401 water quality permit for this project and Williams did not ask for a hearing from DEC regarding the denial, appeal the DEC’s decision, or reapply to the DEC for a permit. Given these facts, Williams cannot possibly show that it has made good faith efforts to meet its deadline.
**NEW YORK DENIED THE WILLIAMS PIPELINE BECAUSE NEW FRACKED GAS INFRASTRUCTURE GOES AGAINST OUR CLIMATE LAWS - THAT HASN'T CHANGED**
-A report from Energy Futures Group found that in order for the Williams Pipeline to adhere to New York’s climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), 95% of its fracked gas would have to remain unburned.
-In its denial of the Williams Pipeline, the NYS DEC said “in order to achieve the State’s critical and ambitious climate change and clean energy policies, the State needs to continue its ongoing transition away from natural gas and other fossil fuels and that “the continued long-term use of fossil fuels is inconsistent with the State’s laws and objectives and with the actions necessary to prevent the most severe impacts from climate change.”
**NEW YORK DENIED THE WILLIAMS PIPELINE BECAUSE THERE IS NO NEED FOR IT AND THERE ARE BETTER RENEWABLES ALTERNATIVES - THAT HASN'T CHANGED**
-In its denial the DEC said that National Grid had identified an alternative to the Williams Pipeline that included “enhancements to existing infrastructure combined with incremental energy efficiency and demand response measures.”
-Thousands of public comments in the PSC proceeding investigating National Grid’s downstate moratorium (Case No. 19-G-0678) and hundreds of community members at public hearings vehemently opposed the Williams Pipeline and any fracked gas alternative and supported incremental energy efficiency, demand response measures and renewable alternatives.
-Multiple reports filed within PSC case 19-G-0678 found that there is no need for the Williams NESE Pipeline and that National Grid has grossly overestimated demand.
**THIS PIPELINE DOESN'T EVEN MEET FERC'S STANDARDS ANYMORE**
-Part of the purpose of having a construction deadline is so that a project will not be built under substantially different standards than the public currently is entitled to. FERC recently ruled that it was appropriate to consider downstream GHG emissions when evaluating the environmental impacts of a pipeline project. This standard should be applied to the Williams NESE pipeline if it is not built by the original construction deadline.
-New information on methane emissions coming directly from pipelines has emerged since the environmental impact statement was released two years ago. If the project construction deadline is extended, a supplemental environmental impact statement must be prepared to account for these significant changed circumstances.
- A public review process conducted by the New York State Public Service Commission found viable alternatives to this project and numerous alternatives are available in terms of renewable energy and energy efficiency to substitute for this facility. This shows that FERC deeming this pipeline as a “public necessity” is an out-of-date characterization since alternatives readily exist.
-While FERC may extend a Certificate’s construction deadline for good cause, no such good cause exists here. Transco is not experiencing unforeseen roadblocks to their construction – they have been denied necessary state permits due to fundamental shortcomings in the structural design of its project that irredeemably condemns the future of this pipeline’s construction and is instead using the cover of a global pandemic to mask this project’s pervasive flaws. Construction never began, COVID 19 had nothing to do with the delay.
We also urge FERC to extend this public comment period by 60 days. A 15-day calendar comment period is not a sufficient amount of time for the public to meaningfully participate on a project that has seen widespread opposition, especially during a time when people are distracted by the COVID-19 pandemic, spring breaks, and Passover/Easter holidays.