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Pipelines Bring Major Investment Jobs to the Appalachian Basin

More than two dozen Federal Energy Regulatory Commission-regulated pipeline projects are feeding $32.6 billion in investments across the Appalachian Basin, according to a new report from Energy In Depth. This infusion of capital will result in roughly 3,500 miles of new, repurposed or replaced pipelines across Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and generate more than 124,000 jobs.

Natural gas pipeline capacity will be significantly increased.

The Appalachian Basin is projected to produce roughly 31.6 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) of natural gas in March, according to the Energy Information Administration. The bulk of this extensive and much-needed regional infrastructure build-out is focused on expanding take-away capacity, enabling the Marcellus and Utica shale gas produced here to be used not only within the tri-state but across the country and even globally.

EID’s new infographic shows construction of all proposed pipelines will add nearly 23 bcf/d of natural gas pipeline take-away capacity. That’s enough room to move nearly 72 percent of the natural gas produced in the region.

Natural gas liquids pipelines are under construction.

The Appalachian Basin is also quickly becoming the region to watch for increased production of natural gas liquids (NGLs), particularly when it comes to ethane – the “building block” of petrochemical feedstock and plastics manufacturing. As U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry recently explained,

“Appalachia’s abundant resources coupled with extensive downstream industrial activity may offer a competitive advantage that could enable it to displace marginal producers and help the U.S. gain global market share in the petrochemical industry.”

Ethane Production East Region 600x600

In order to move the massive amounts of NGLs currently and projected to be produced regionally to new planned cracker facilities and regional market hubs, there are at least two pipeline systems in the works. These pipelines will have the capacity to move about 445,000 barrels of NGLs per day once complete, according to EID’s new infographic.

 “Keep It In the Ground” efforts to delay pipelines prove costly.

Despite the benefits, activists are attempting to block pipeline development across the Northeast and beyond. A recent Global Energy Institute report revealed that the KIITG movement has cost the United States nearly $92 billion in GDP, $20.3 million in state and local tax revenue, and 728,079 jobs. Efforts to stymie infrastructure bringing natural gas to New England also prove extremely costly to utility customers; residents pay 29 percent more than the national average while major providers are being forced to turn away potential customers.

One such example is the Constitution Pipeline, which would bring much-needed Appalachian gas through New York.

Three years ago, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied the pipeline a water quality certification, effectively halting construction on the project and prompting the company to file a petition with FERC. While FERC previously ruled in favor of DEC, it has now agreed to re-consider its decision in light of a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on a similar, but unrelated hydropower case. If allowed to advance, the 124-mile pipeline would carry 650 MMcf/d of Appalachian gas from Susquehanna County to New York, transporting enough natural gas to serve more than 3 million homes.

As Secretary Perry said earlier this week,

“The sad thing is that not all Americans are getting to enjoy that because of some bone-headed political decisions that are made from time to time. In this case, New York, which won’t allow those pipelines to transverse.”

These states that limit [energy infrastructure] because of their political concerns jeopardize their future of their citizens, not just economically but literally, I will suggest, jeopardizing their lives.” (emphasis added)

Conclusion:

It’s clear that the shale revolution has been and will continue to provide a major economic driver for the Appalachian region. Industry investments will bring new jobs and economic opportunity to local communities and will help relieve energy constraints across the Northeast.

Otsego County has it all. Natural beauty, a significant history, many cultural institutions and colleges, and a noted rural health system. It has two sizeable towns with a varietry of restaurants and ample night lives. The outlying villages have congregations of many faiths, school pride, and local civic and private organizations where neighbors help neighbors. It's a good place to raise kids.

Except . . . where are the kids? In the last 20 years half have moved. Their parents packed the U-Haul and took their young families elsewhere in search of good jobs and opportunity. With that loss, Otsego County stagnates and grows older, schools close, local organizations search for volunteers. Other than Cooperstown and Oneonta, our towns and villages lose the vitality that comes with young families as neighbors. That's a problem. What's to be done?

 

Last month the Chamber of Commerce's Energy Infrastructure and Economy Summit started that difficult conversation. Since energy is a key factor, the Summit centered on sources of energy needed to power an economy that retains the young. The conversation now goes to the County Legislature's 21 member Energy Working Group. That's where the conversation may devolve into an argument. Wish us luck.

 

There are two energy factions in Otsego County . One would use only renewables in any future build-out. They do this in order to save the planet. The second favors ALL sources of affordable energy, including gas.

 

Count me among the latter. Natural gas is cheap, abundant. reliable, scaleable, and its adoption has environmental benefits. Its price lowers overhead, creating jobs. Its infrastructure preserves rural character while boosting rural economies. Its diverse uses enables diverse economic options. And - dirty little secret - it's good for the environment.

 

Drive eighty miles south of Otsego County and you're in the second largest gas field in the USA. The Marcellus produces 25% of the nation's natural gas. Its short history has free market lessons for Hunger Gamed New Yorkers. Pennsylvania's residential gas is about one third the average price in NYS. If permitted, gas would heat New York homes at a premium of 30% of the cost of propane. Take out your bill. Do the math. My calculations show savings of about $900 per year. That's EVERY year, not just the Governor's election year tax refund.

 

Before the shale gas revolution in 2005, only 5% of PA's electicity was gas generated. By 2015 it jumped to 27%. Over that period Pennsylvania's CO2 emissions dropped 46%. A twenty year look-back shows sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide and various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) dropping 86%, 73% and 5 1%repsectively. Those numbers will drop further as Pennsylvania's gas-fired power plants replace coal along the NYS border. Incidentally, Pennsylvania's fracked gas-powered electricity WILL cross that border. Somebody has to keep New York's lights on.

 

Border counties provide good comparisons. One region prospers; the other withers. From 2010 to 2017, manufacturing GDP in Prnnsylvania's Northern Tier grew 24%; New York's Southern Tier's grew 1.5%, outpaced by a factor of 16 to 1. 1,300 farms closed in New York between 2007 and 2017. New York farmers can watch their Pennsylvania neighbors prosper while they struggle. Bradford County (PA) statistics show that between 2005 and 2012 the number of farms increased 12%, the number of acres increased 15%, and the real estate values went up 25%. Compare that to the "For Sale" signs that greet you in New York.

 

Longitudinal data on tax revenue, new businesses. local bank deposits, home sales, charitable contributions, and foreclosure auctions are all good indicators of economic health. If you were picking a winner, on which side of the border would you place your money?

 

Green New Deals proliferate lately. Not to be outdone, Governor Cuomo has one that calls for 100% carbon free by 2040, zero emissions by 2050. No new gas gas infrastructure. This plays well with the True Believers but here's reality. Germany, after twenty years of pouring billions into energiewende, their "Green New Deal "equivilent, has stalled on CO2 emissions. Their high-cost electricity (over three times ours) will use two Russian gas pipelines and three multinational LNG terminals to provide gas back-up for wind and solar. In order to maintain grid stability and lower emissions and prices, the Germans need gas. So does New York. The Governor is now getting early wake-up calls. Con Ed has curtailed new gas connections in Westchester, then raised residential gas rates 11% and electricity 6%. More to come if the Governor doesn't pay attention. He probably won't.

 

Policies have consequences. We have to invigorate New York with all forms of affordable energy, lower the energy prices, and encourage businesses. Watch gas replace coal in the energy mix while making New York a destination for jobs and opportunity for young families. We can start the process with the constuction of the Constitution Pipeline with its outlet to the Leaterstocking distribution line.

 

Then watch the kids return.

 

Keep the faith,

 

Dick

Attention Northeast residents: You have important opportunities in the coming weeks to stand up and support Williams’ Northeast Supply Enhancement project.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) is holding public hearings regarding Williams’ application for a critical water quality permit. We are encouraging our supporters to RSVP to let us know you are able to attendClick the links below to learn more or to RSVP for the hearings now.

Tuesday, February 26 – Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday, March 6 – Rockaway Park, NY

You can also support Northeast Supply Enhancement by signing our support petition that we will submit to the NYSDEC before the public comment period ends on March 15.

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This Energy Department map shows how new long-distance power lines allow surplus wind and solar power to be shared across the United States. National Renewable Energy Laboratory

 

 

If the goals of the "Green New Deal" are a political minefield, so, too, are the most likely strategies for reaching its target of very high national levels of renewable energy output.

A shelf of authoritative studies under the Department of Energy's sponsorship dating back to George W. Bush's presidency define how to take a big step in that direction. Their answer — build a network of long-distance, ultra-high-voltage transmission lines to widely share wind and solar power across the continent's time zones.

But the strategy has faced overpowering headwinds of not-in-my-backyard opposition from residents and not-through-my-state political pushback. It's also been rare for Congress to put aside partisan politics and pass major legislation facilitating transmission corridors.

"If you're going to do a 100 percent clean energy portfolio — that is really 70 to 80 percent of electric power from renewables — I don't know how you avoid huge transmission builds," said Richard Sedano, president of the Regulatory Assistance Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank advocating a clean energy future. "It's either that or overbuilding the system so much with surplus renewables and batteries" that consumers will be hammered.

"I don't see how you have a national clean energy standard without significant federally mandated or incented transmission build cutting across regions of the country," added Travis Kavulla, a former Montana utility commissioner and president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, now with the R Street Institute in Washington, D.C.

DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) issued the Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study in 2010, with strategies to provide 20 percent of the electricity supply east of the Rocky Mountains from wind energy by 2024. It counseled: "The integration of 20 percent wind energy is technically feasible, but will require significant expansion of the transmission infrastructure and system operational changes."

The most detailed of the analyses is NREL's ongoing Interconnections Seam Study based on massive computer simulations of power flows. It outlined one scenario with three ultra-high-voltage direct-current lines spanning the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River, with other new lines moving western power eastward.

Because grid operators can control the direction of power flows on direct-current lines, surplus afternoon solar power from the Southwest could stream into Southeastern states at dusk. Other lines could ship unused wind energy from the Great Plains into major cities in the Great Lakes and East Coast regions, or the other way into California.

By linking time zones, the variability of wind and solar power at different times of day becomes a strength, not a weakness, explained project leader Aaron Bloom.

The scenario would require an estimated $70 billion for new power lines and nearly $700 billion for new power plants through 2038. A carbon tax on power plant CO2 emissions would add $163 billion in costs. But considering savings on fuel and operations as wind and solar expand, overall benefits are three times greater than the costs, NREL estimated.

Coal plants nearly disappear by 2038 and wind and solar deliver 40 percent of the nation's electricity under the plan. Nuclear plant output stays at today's levels. Gas-powered generators increase their output slightly, providing essential quick ramping response to back up wind and solar power variations (Energywire, July 27, 2018).

An even more ambitious national grid has been proposed by Alexander "Sandy" MacDonald, former director of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory. MacDonald led a team that analyzed 50 billion pieces of weather data from across the country to demonstrate the value of a transmission "supergrid" built along interstate highways to move surplus wind and solar into distant urban centers.

The completed network would provide 38 percent of the nation's electricity output from wind and 17 percent from solar.

"Doing a robust electrical system isn't going to break us. It might raise the average electricity cost in the U.S. from 10 cents [per kilowatt-hour] to 11.5 cents and create 6 million permanent jobs," MacDonald said (Energywire, Dec. 19, 2017).

Clues from past fights

Outside these transmission studies is the reality of how Texas became the nation's biggest producer of wind power.

Transmission was a key factor in the addition of more than 20,000 megawatts of wind generation capacity in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas area, covering 90 percent of the state's households. Texas officials approved a plan in 2006 to build 2,400 miles of power lines to deliver wind generation to the state's population centers. That new grid is also delivering a growing output of solar power, an unexpected benefit, says Americans for a Clean Energy Grid.

But Texas' leap to wind power rested on a bipartisan political marriage of legislators. On one side were rural Texans in the wind-rich, thinly populated Panhandle region who were eager to earn royalties from wind farm developers. On the other were clean energy lawmakers representing metropolitan areas.

A consensus like that happened only once on the national level, when a Republican-controlled Congress passed the 2005 Energy Policy Act in reaction to the stunning Aug. 14, 2003, power failure that knocked out power to 50 million people between New York and Detroit.

The act was hailed as a monumental legislative undertaking, taking 213 recorded votes in the Senate and 373 in the House before the final compromise was hammered out and signed by Bush. It was supported by 90 percent of the House Republicans and 20 percent of the Democrats. It was saluted by supporters as the first comprehensive energy bill in 10 years — and that was more than 13 years ago.

The law set up a two-part process. First, the Energy Department would identify "National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors" where electric supply was threatened by overcrowded transmission lines. Congress also authorized the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to step in and approve rights of way for newly proposed power lines within a corridor if a state government along the route withheld approval of a project for more than one year.

DOE drew two corridors running through the Mid-Atlantic and Southwestern states, prompting environmental lawsuits and protests that building more high-voltage lines would actually help coal-fired generation expand. Opponents said FERC's ability to intervene disappeared if a state rejected — not delayed — a project within the one-year time frame, and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in 2009 by a 2-to-1 vote.

Then DOE's corridor designations were invalidated by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2011. By that time, a strong lobby was at work in Congress arguing for states' rights and pushing to block any new move for national transmission projects.

"If there is a national clean energy standard, that is necessarily a usurpation over state prerogatives of state resource mix," Kavulla said in an interview.

Similarly, a national plan now must overcome a deepening red state-blue state regional split over climate and clean energy policies.

New York provides an example of a state that is pinning its future on new wind and solar energy without a comparable commitment to moving the power, some analysts say.

In fiscal 2018, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority pledged $360 million to attract $1 billion in private investment to fund 11 large-scale renewable energy projects in the state. By 2020, the energy authority expects to be funding 35 additional renewable projects. The state's plans include 800 MW of offshore wind.

The state has three transmission projects in the works to move renewable power from the Niagara Falls region to Albany and down to New York City. But the only mention of new projects in the 2019 budget of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is a promise to transform the state's transmission grid "to a distributed smart grid network."

The Cuomo plan proposes to help keep power flowing when the sun is down and the wind is still by developing 1,500 MW of energy storage by 2025, a similar vision of how "Green New Deal" advocates look to battery backup for renewables.

Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz issued a report with energy historian Daniel Yergin this month arguing that the next round of large wind and solar power production over the next two decades requires more production of natural gas to fill in when those resources aren't available. Batteries don't have the capacity to do that in all circumstances, Moniz said in an interview.

"When we talk about [battery] storage, what we see being deployed today is generally storage for two, four, maybe six hours max. That's very important for handling the daily variations you have in solar and wind. But what about the week when the wind doesn't blow, for example, or in some cases the month?"

Raising renewable energy output over the next several decades will rest on current technologies, Moniz said. To go even further after that, carbon emissions from gas plants must eventually be captured, stored underground or absorbed in new chemical processes that haven't been invented yet, he added.

Releases and leaks of methane, the primary component of natural gas and a potent global warming agent, also must be controlled, Resources for the Future warns (Energywire, Feb. 8).

On the battery issue, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has also warned of U.S. dependence on imported minerals required for current lithium-based batteries used for utility storage and electric vehicles.

Simon Moores, managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, told the committee earlier this month that expected global increases in battery use will require an eightfold increase in lithium production worldwide and steep gains in output of cobalt, graphite and nickel. The United States imports 100 percent of its cobalt and 92 percent of its current lithium requirements, Moores said.

Researchers all over the country are striving to create technologies for better-performing, cheaper batteries with less vulnerable materials, but the chances for success are big question marks.

'Likely' vs. 'possible'

The "how to do it" political challenge for the "Green New Deal" is compounded by the most profound operating changes in the U.S. electric power sector since the era of Thomas Edison.

Jeffrey Taft, chief architect for grid transformation at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has pointed out that the flow of electricity across the power grid and into Americans' homes and offices is getting inexorably faster and more complicated as rooftop "distributed" solar energy expands and "smart" appliances proliferate and alter supply and demand for power at minute levels.

"A future with potentially 30 per cent of the U.S. installed resource capacity coming from distributed resources and customer participation requires a different physical distribution system than exists today," Taft wrote in 2016.

Most of the current operators of the complex U.S. power networks grew up in a familiar system where operators had windows of five minutes or longer to react to a sudden outage on a big power line or an unexpected nuclear plant scram.

To manage the much more complex power flows of the future, with increasing amounts of fluctuating wind and solar power, computers must react to changes in grid conditions 30 to 60 times a second in some cases, much too fast for humans, Taft wrote.

Even a 30 percent renewable power output throughout the synchronized eastern grid would require instantaneous management of power flows from Montreal to Miami and as far west as New Mexico, DOE experts have noted.

Creating operating controls able to handle huge data volumes safe from hacking attacks, with embedded artificial intelligence and machine learning, is another huge challenge of innovation and investment, charted in studies by the Electric Power Research Institute.

Where will the investment come from?

Some "Green New Deal" advocates say the federal government must take the lead, as it did in fighting unemployment in the Great Depression and Germany and Japan in World War II.

Moniz argues that the formula for success in transforming the grid has to recognize the unique, essential roles that utilities and private-sector investors will play in remaking a power grid with thousands of utilities and multiple thousands of power plants and miles of power lines.

Putting the nation's innovation machine into overdrive in this cause requires both existing power companies and upstart inventors, he said.

"The large incumbents, that's where the customer bases are, where the supply chains have been built. They understand their public good responsibilities — things like universal service," Moniz said. They live with regulations created to protect the public interest.

"Disrupters come in with very, very different business models, but they are going to have to fit into that system of reliable service, as well," he said.

Sedano, a veteran former utility regulator, said: "'Social license' is a term we sometimes use when we're trying to sound very intelligent. It means whether the public is behind the government in what it is trying to do.

"We haven't even tried to get that from the public" in the debate over the climate threat, he said.

"So with the question of whether it's possible, of course it is," he said. "Is it likely? That's a better question."

Now that the reality has begun to sink in that there will be no magic bullet, no magic wand waved to prevent Consolidated Edison from refusing to add new customers (like hotels, apartment buildings, etc.) to its natural gas distribution system in Westchester County, NY, politicians and business leaders in the county are beginning to soil themselves. Certainly metaphorically–maybe literally.

 

We continue to laugh AT the so-called leaders of Westchester County. One of their own residents, Andy Cuomo, is the cause of the coming economic destruction in the county. Yet they refuse to acknowledge it.

We’ve covered this story extensively over the past month or so (see our Westchester County stories here). Until now the stories we’ve read in mainstream news portray Westchester County officials in various forms of denial. Like, “This really isn’t happening, is it?” And, “Somehow the state, Cuomo, someone will tell Con Ed to back off. It’ll happen any day now.” That’s the kind of reaction we’ve read–until now.

Finally those living in Westchester are coming to terms with the fact that their county’s economy is about to take a HUGE hit–because Con Ed can’t fabricate natural gas out of thin air to meet the increasing demand:

Yonkers officials celebrated in October when it appeared the city finally had a developer ready to build on a 6-acre patch of its downtown called Chicken Island, which has sat vacant for decades. Four months later, they are warning that Con Edison’s natural gas moratorium could snuff out the plan.

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said “as soon as the potential developers of Chicken Island heard of the gas moratorium, they expressed to us that, unequivocally, moving ahead with this moratorium will stop their development. Period.”

Developer AMS Acquisitions LLC, a Manhattan firm, agreed to buy the property from the city last year for $16 million. The company promised a plan featuring shopping, dining, apartment buildings and a luxury hotel for the site behind City Hall.

But Chicken Island is just one of many development opportunities Westchester County elected officials fret could be lost or at least delayed during a natural gas moratorium in Westchester County. Con Edison says demand has outpaced its capacity to get natural gas into its lower county service area, requiring the company to pause all new natural gas connections starting March 15.

The proposed moratorium has flipped perception in Westchester’s largest cities. Public officials in Yonkers, New Rochelle and White Plains have spent the past couple years touting the large number of apartments planned for their cities. They now list the same numbers to lament what could be lost.

“I’ve seen what happens on the development side of things,” said White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach. “A window opens and a window closes.”

Both Roach and Spano, through an office representative, testified to the potential costs of the moratorium at a public hearing hosted Feb. 13 in White Plains by the state’s utility regulator, the Public Service Commission.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said his office has compiled a list of commercial development projects that could be halted in the moratorium. Without natural gas, 16,000 new apartments and condos and 2 million square feet of new commercial development could be at risk. His office estimates the lost development could cost the county 28,500 construction jobs, 48,000 residents and more than $600 million in rental income.

“Developers that are looking at Westchester County for any type of construction–residential, commercial of any sort–will be dealing with one county that has a moratorium and no other area that does,” Latimer said at the public hearing.

The moratorium, he said, gives an advantage to “Long Island, Fairfield County, the Hudson Valley and northern New Jersey, all at the expense of Westchester County.”

Con Edison has told developers and public officials that new gas connections will be approved until the utility decides it has reached capacity, which could happen before the March 15 cut off. That’s created a race to get in before the gas runs out. A Con Edison spokesperson said the utility has received more than 580 requests for natural gas connections since the announcement, twice the normal rate of incoming requests compared with the same period in the past two years.

Patrick Lynch, president of OLA Consulting Engineers in Hawthorne, said his firm has worked on about a dozen applications ahead of the moratorium for developers and other commercial builders. His firm has sped up the typical timeline in each case to provide estimates of expected gas load to Con Edison.

“For a developer these are little costs, but they are costs they are incurring earlier in the project than they would have without this March 15 deadline,” Lynch said.

Con Edison has state approval to launch a $223 million effort aimed at boosting the use of heat pumps and gas efficiency measures in the region. OLA Consulting plans to explore gas alternatives such as all electric options and geothermal heating. But Lynch said there can be challenges for each option and the best alternative will vary by project.

“It really limits people’s options not having gas,” Lynch said. “If you talk about a 15- to 20 story apartment building in New Rochelle and White Plains, you really want to have that gas option.”

There is one type of gas service Con Edison will approve even in the moratorium. The utility will still connect new buildings if they use interruptible service, an option that allows Con Edison to switch the building to oil on peak days. The option is utilized mostly by large commercial or industrial facilities, but isn’t particularly common. Less than one percent of Con Edison’s 1.1 million natural gas customers are interruptible, according to the utility.

There has been plenty of finger pointing among elected officials as the March 15 deadline nears. Democratic state Assembly members Amy Paulin and David Buchwald slammed the PSC at the White Plains hearing, arguing the regulatory board did not give the public proper notice of the potential for a moratorium. County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky, a Democrat representing Hastings-on-Hudson, added that Con Edison had “bungled the situation” and placed the economic health of Westchester’s communities at risk.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken heat as well. The editorial boards of The Wall Street Journal and New York Post described the moratorium as a consequence of his opposition to natural gas pipelines in the state.

Latimer, meanwhile, is calling on the state PSC to work with Con Edison to delay the March 15 deadline. (1)

Still some denial there (get the PSC to order Con Ed to delay the moratorium), but it appears Westchester is finally waking up to their nightmare reality.

The New York Post also picked up on this theme with a guest post titled, “The price of Cuomo’s war on natural gas is only starting to kick in”:

New Yorkers experienced the headache caused by Gov. Cuomo’s crusade against natural gas last week, when a public hearing was held to discuss Con Edison’s January announcement that it would institute a moratorium on accepting new gas customers in Westchester County.

The Empire State has stymied the construction of the necessary transmission infrastructure, so Con Ed is unable to keep up with demand. In addition to his decision to ban hydraulic fracturing in 2014 — aborting any hope that New York could profit from some of its most valuable natural resources — Cuomo and his regulators have denied necessary permits for three separate natural-gas pipeline projects.

National Grid may soon follow Con Ed’s lead. Imagine: A major utility company is prepared to turn away potential customers, not ­because it wants to, but because Cuomo and his allies refuse to admit the need for ­energy supplied by natural gas. And because they’re equally in denial about natural gas’ environmental benefits.

You won’t hear much about it from environmentalists or the green-energy crowd, but the rise of American natural gas — a fossil fuel, no less — is one of the great ecological success stories of the last 30 years. Hydraulic fracturing has unleashed vast new supplies of natural gas, rendering it relatively cheap.

The cost savings largely explain why the nation’s electricity suppliers switched to natural gas, and ­because gas burns more cleanly than coal, its rise has been accompanied by a dramatic reduction in pollution and in America’s carbon footprint. US greenhouse-gas emissions have decreased 12 percent since 2005, and the switch to natural gas accounts for most of the improvement.

Of course, green activists have been pretending for years that solar and wind energy were the magic bullets that could de-carbonize America. But it turned out that the answer all along was clean-burning natural gas. In fact, data from the Energy Information Administration shows that, in 2016, New York relied more on natural gas for its energy needs than on coal, nuclear power and hydropower combined. Simply put, the Empire State runs on clean natural gas.

You would think that, under these circumstances, environmentally conscious politicians like Cuomo would embrace natural gas and happily cooperate with utilities like Con Edison, which depend on state approval for the construction of new gas pipelines and associated infrastructure projects.

Unfortunately, Cuomo and his regulators are more concerned about currying favor with extremist environmental groups than they are with fulfilling New York’s ­energy needs, even if doing so is compatible with lowering carbon emissions. Among the eco-radicals, fossil fuels are the new third rail, and every project involving oil or natural gas is inherently suspect.

The sad part is that Con Ed’s moratorium in Westchester County could be just the beginning of New York’s energy headaches. The state’s hostility to new natural-gas pipelines threatens to create energy shortages in the Big Apple, one of the largest energy markets in the country.

Will it take ordinary New Yorkers setting their thermostats to “lukewarm,” or the shuttering of offices and businesses because of a lack of power and heat, to convince Cuomo and other state leaders that action must finally be taken?

Already, Cuomo’s short-sightedness has cost New Yorkers dearly. New York’s Southern Tier sits above the Marcellus Shale, which is estimated to have the largest ­resource base of natural gas in the United States. But instead of capitalizing on this bounty, New York banned hydraulic fracturing.

Pennsylvania, which shares Marcellus with New York, shows New Yorkers what might have been: The Keystone State has become the second largest natural-gas-producing state in the Union. Meanwhile, since 2012, natural-gas impact fees have generated $1.5 billion in state revenue, including almost $500 million earmarked for environmental conservation. Energy development has also created 300,000 jobs.

Perhaps un-banning hydraulic fracturing is a bridge too far for Albany, but Cuomo should admit the obvious: New York needs natural gas, and so the infrastructure to deliver it to consumers should be allowed by the state. And if Cuomo won’t come to his senses, the federal government must reform the permitting process to stop New York and other states from frivolously blocking needed energy ­infrastructure.

Nicholas Waddy is an associate professor of history at Alfred State College, SUNY. (2)

Our message to Westchester: Welcome to the economic malaise we’ve experienced in the Southern Tier under Cuomo for the last decade. Now it’s your turn to live under the results of his policies. We hope you enjoy it.

(1) White Plains (NY) WestfairOnline.com (Feb 20, 2019) – Westchester officials eye impacts of Con Ed’s natural gas moratorium on construction projects

(2) New York (NY) Post (Feb 21, 2019) – The price of Cuomo’s war on natural gas is only starting to kick in

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