Saqib Rahim
E&E News reporter

New York gets 57 percent of its power from gas. But even though the state sits over part of the Marcellus Shale,it has chosen to be a consumer rather than a producer.

In 2014, after several years of evaluation, the Cuomo administration signaled it would ban high­volumehydraulic fracturing, citing its risks to the environment and public health.

Then Cuomo moved to limit pipelines. Last year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation rejectedthe Constitution pipeline, a 124­mile line from Pennsylvania. Last month, DEC turned down the Northern Access 2016 project, a 96­mile line from Pennsylvania.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had approved both projects. But in both cases, the state denied a water permit under the Clean Water Act.

The rejections incensed the pipeline companies, which claimed they had done everything regulators asked of them but were being denied for political reasons. Cuomo is reportedly interested in running for president in

The pipelines' sponsors, Williams Partners LP and National Fuel Gas Co., have both joined the Business Council of New York's new lobby group.

Does the Northeast need more gas?

Yet the question of whether the Northeast actually needs more gas is hardly a straightforward one. It's closer to a paradox.

On the one hand, the region is vulnerable to dramatic swings in gas prices. Jacob Fericy, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said the Northeast becomes "one of the most pipeline­constrained markets in the world" each winter.

Gas prices have been at least $3 above the Henry Hub benchmark for four of the last five winters, he said. On the other hand, power demand is fairly flat, so it's hard to muster a sense of urgency. Grid operators in New England and New York consider the regions well supplied on gas, at least for the near future.

Getting gas by sea has also become cheaper over the last five years, giving New England states an à la carte option in a pinch, Hanger said.

"LNG on a unit basis costs more, but you just buy what you need when you need it," he said. "In order to meet that short­term cold period need, LNG imports may be better than building a pipeline that operates for every day and every hour and every minute of every year."

That's cold comfort for gas advocates, who say the Northeast is shortchanging workers and industry. Suarez, of the Business Council, said New York factories that make auto parts, forklifts and paper want to convert to gas to save money.

"Those energy­intensive businesses, they can be located anywhere in the world," he said. "They're challenged by competitors throughout the world that have greater access to natural gas."

Karen Moreau, API's executive director in New York, said Cuomo's policies have left the state's Southern Tier impoverished.

The region had hoped to enjoy royalties from fracking and jobs and tax revenue from building pipelines, she said in a press call last month.

"What's the legitimate reason here? Is there one?" she asked. "What is his plan for natural gas? And how does he intend to provide safe, reliable, affordable energy to all New Yorkers with the program we're currently seeing? In our view, it doesn't add up."

Download this file (Fight.pdf)Fight.pdf97 kB

JLCNY Calendar

No events

Recent Stories