The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

When Agenda Politics Leave Some Out in the Cold

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted April 6, 2018

An epic battle is shaping up in New York City over a proposed natural gas pipeline expansion.

On one side is a group of public housing tenants who lost heat during freezing temperatures this winter and really don’t want a repeat experience next winter. They’ve signed a letter supporting the Northeast Supply Enhancement project, which would allow more natural gas to be piped into Brooklyn and Queens. From the letter, obtained by Politico (subscription required):

As we learned with [Superstorm] Sandy, without reliable energy infrastructure, our residents can easily lose power and heat … Fortunately, there is a proposal on the table to construct a new natural gas connection to New York City, which would provide vital, affordable energy supply to NYCHA homes and other city residents, and create a far more dependable energy infrastructure.

The project would get more natural gas to National Grid, which the utility says will be needed to meet forecast peak demand in the 2019-2020 winter heating season, given increasing demand. It would expand the existing Transco pipeline, with a 23-mile pipeline in the New York Bay, three miles in New Jersey and 10 miles in Pennsylvania, Politico reports.

Unfortunately for the tenants, the natural gas project is opposed by an array of climate change activists and environmentalists – despite the fact that nationwide, increased natural gas is the chief reason U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are at their lowest levels in nearly 25 years. Politico:

The letter highlights the “next big pipeline fight brewing in New York … where activists who successfully pressured Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban fracking have turned their attention to blocking natural gas infrastructure and power plant projects.”

It’s a safe bet the public housing tenants care much more about having sufficient heat than they do about agenda politics. Yet, basically, they’re being told to move along, that there are more important issues than what it says on thermostats.

A spokeswoman for NY/NJ Baykeeper told Politico the group opposes the pipeline expansion because it could disturb wildlife habitat. A spokesman for New York Communities for Change said the solution to these tenants’ habitat problem is investments in renewable energy systems (which by the way need to partner with natural gas so that there’s fuel for power when intermittent sources aren’t available).

In the meantime, be warm and be filled, right?

Not good enough, writes Charlene Nimmons, former resident association president for Wyckoff Garden Houses in Brooklyn and CEO of Public Housing Communities, Inc.:

New York City is already maxing out on available natural gas during its coldest days. According to Con Ed, natural-gas demand has increased 25% in the past six years. The city’s largest source of natural gas, Transco, set new records in the amount of fuel delivered. Groups like the New York Building Congress have warned this will lead to supply issues soon because there are not enough pipelines coming into the city. So government officials must also allow new connections to existing natural gas supply to fuel NYCHA conversions to natural gas, creating our cycle of costs savings and repairs.

Nimmons urged approval of the Northeast Supply Enhancement line:

It must be built. By taking these prudent steps, our government officials can stop the blame game and immediately start delivering results for NYCHA residents who remain at great risk as the winter continues. There’s no excuse to leave us out in the cold.

She’s right. Natural gas is abundant and next door in Pennsylvania. As we wrote about similar supply/infrastructure issues adversely affecting New Englanders, for some Americans to be cold in their homes during winter, with the solution at hand, is simply unworthy of the world’s leading natural gas and oil producer. Unworthy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.