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By JOE MAHONEY CNHI State Reporter Jan 27, 2019
ALBANY — With two proposed natural gas pipelines stuck in neutral after they failed to secure permits, business leaders are warning that the state faces calamitous economic consequences if energy infrastructure projects can't clear hurdles erected by the Cuomo administration.

Meanwhile, environmentalists who oppose the projects are worried that President Donald Trump will use his executive authority to circumvent New York's obstacles to pipelines by declaring that the need to boost the supply of gas constitutes a national emergency.

 

DEC PERMITS DENIED

The State Department of Environmental Conservation has refused to issue water quality permits to the Constitution Pipeline, which would carry gas extricated in Pennsylvania to Schoharie County, as well as National Fuel's proposed Northern Access pipeline, which would slice through Niagara County.

Both projects have received the green light from the federal government and Pennsylvania regulators.

"It's very concerning and alarming that we're at the point now where there is not enough gas to supply existing customers and we're forcing companies to burn dirtier fuel (oil)," said Gavin Donohue, president of Independent Power Producers of New York, a statewide trade association.

"If the very cold weather we've been having doesn't show the value of natural gas, I don't know what does."

 

NEW DEMAND

The alarm bells are also being sounded by public officials in Westchester County, an affluent suburb of New York City.

Con Edison, one of New York's biggest utilities, has announced that beginning March 15 it will commence a moratorium on gas service to new customers.

The company explained that “new demand for gas is reaching the limits of the current supplies to our service area.”

Meanwhile, National Grid, another major utility, has signaled that an adequate supply of natural gas is needed to accommodate demand needs in the New York City region.

The utility has also suggested that a proposed pipeline advanced by the same leading investor behind the Constitution pipeline, Williams Partners, is needed to bring natural gas to a hockey and concert arena planned for Belmont Park.

Natural Gas has indicated that the 37-mile pipeline hinges on getting approvals from state and federal regulators.

 

FEDS FRUSTRATED

The Trump administration, allied with the fossil fuel industry, has voiced its frustration with the posture of Gov. Andrew Cuomo towards snarled pipeline projects.

"If a polar vortex comes into the Northeast part of the country, or a cyberattack, and people literally have to start making decisions on how to keep their family warm or keep the lights on — at that time, the leadership of that state will have a real reckoning," U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said at the World Gas Conference last year.

"We have to have a conversation as a country. Is that a national security issue that outweighs the political concerns in Albany, N.Y.?"

 

EXECUTIVE ORDER?

The White House, according to a report first posted by Politico, is now considering taking steps that would crimp the ability of states to stop interstate pipelines, possibly through the issuance of an executive order.

The Politico report, subsequently confirmed by Bloomberg News, suggested that if Trump declares there is a "national emergency" requiring greater transmission capacity for gas, it could put projects such as the Constitution and Northern Access back on track.

Darren Suarez, director of legislative affairs for the Business Council of New York, said there is no doubt that New York businesses, in order to grow, will need expanded access to natural gas.

"I don't think any state as gas-dependent as New York has taken a position so much against new natural gas infrastructure," Suarez told CNHI.

He said there has been " a real disconnect" between current state policy and utility customers who prefer gas because "it burns clean; it is efficient; and it is available at a price that is very competitive."

 

GOVERNOR CITES RISKS

Cuomo, in his most expansive remarks to date regarding natural gas pipelines, acknowledged in 2017 that he has concerns about environmental impacts and suggested the number of jobs the projects create is relatively small.

Commenting on the denial of a key permit to the Northern Access project, Cuomo told the Buffalo News editorial board: "The risk to the environment and the water quality and degradation to the environment outweighed the five permanent jobs."

This month, he outlined his goal of a major expansion in reliance on renewable sources of energy — wind and solar — to meet New York's power needs.

Advocates for added state investment to expand wind and solar power production contend that the utility industry is trying to concoct the appearance of a supply crisis, suggesting that the moratorium declared by Con Edison in Westchester County backs up that assertion.

"Con Ed can't even point to a pipeline project that would have solved the problem," said Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Region director for Food & Water Watch, an advocacy group.

"It's very clear that building more pipelines would lock us into decades-long reliance on fossil fuels."

 

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

He argued that the demand needs should be addressed with "a huge investment in energy efficiency," with a vigorous effort to increase production of power from wind and solar, which now make up only about 4 percent of New York's overall energy supply.

An environmental lawyer who has been battling the developers of the Constitution Pipeline project, Anne Marie Garti of Delaware County, said it remains to be seen if Trump will try to cite national security reasons to get around the denial of the state water permits.

"You can't just say something is a national emergency when there is no emergency," Garti said. "You can't change the Clean Water Act through an executive order."

 

HALTS OTHER PROJECTS

While the industry is keeping a close eye on Trump's next move, officials from Westchester County are amplifying their push for a solution to the moratorium declared by Con Edison.

Westchester's residents include Cuomo and his partner, television star Sandra Lee, who live in Mount Kisco.

"We just can't stop all economic development, all affordable housing projects, all residential development, which is what this moratorium will do," said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale).

"This is going to halve every single revenue producer for every community that we have. It's going to devastate our communities."

 

 

James Denn, spokesman for the state Public Service Commission, said the utility regulator is "monitoring Con Edison's engagement with customers to explore options to reduce their energy needs or meet their needs through non-natural gas energy sources."

Cuomo's re-election effort last year was supported by many union leaders and the Business Council. Some of his backers are involved in a coalition of labor, community and business leaders supporting natural gas infrastructure expansion, New Yorkers for Affordable Energy, which is now calling for an ened to the pipeline "blockade."

"There is a human cost to these policies, and vulnerable New Yorkers will bear the burden with higher home heating bills, lack of affordable housing and lost jobs," said Peter Kauffmann, the coalition's spokesman.

From the Wall Street Journal

The combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling—sometimes known as the “shale revolution”—has enabled Texas, Pennsylvania and other states to produce record quantities of natural gas, some of which is being frozen, loaded onto giant ships, and transported to customers in places like Chile, China and India. Thanks to the environmental policies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York has missed out on this windfall.The combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling—sometimes known as the “shale revolution”—has enabled Texas, Pennsylvania and other states to produce record quantities of natural gas, some of which is being frozen, loaded onto giant ships, and transported to customers in places like Chile, China and India. Thanks to the environmental policies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York has missed out on this windfall.
Now, in a preview of what life might be like under the Democrats’ proposed Green New Deal, some New Yorkers are about to face a natural-gas shortage. Consolidated Edison , an energy utility that provides gas and power to the New York City area, announced last month that beginning in mid-March it would “no longer be accepting applications for natural gas connections from new customers in most of our Westchester County service area.” The reason for the shortage is obvious: The Cuomo administration has repeatedly blocked or delayed new pipeline projects. As a Con Ed spokesman put it, there is a “lot of natural gas around the country, but getting it to New York has been the strain.”

  New York policy makers have also killed the state’s natural-gas-drilling business. In 2008 New York drillers produced about 150 million cubic feet of natural gas a day—not enough to meet all the state’s needs, but still a substantial amount. That same year legislators in Albany passed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, the process used to wring oil and gas out of underground rock formations. In 2015 the Cuomo administration made the moratorium permanent. By 2018 New York’s gas production had declined so much that the Energy Information Administration quit publishing numbers on it.
New York now imports nearly all of its gas even though part of the Marcellus Shale, one of the biggest and most prolific sources of natural gas in the country, extends into the state’s Southern Tier region. To get an idea of how much gas the state might have been able to produce from the Marcellus, New Yorkers can look across the state line to Pennsylvania, which now supplies about two-thirds of the gas consumed in New York. At the end of 2018, Pennsylvania drillers were producing about 18 billion cubic feet of gas a day. That’s more gas than Canada now produces.
By keeping its natural gas in the ground, New York has lost out on jobs and tax revenue. By 2015, some 106,000 people were directly employed by Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry, making it a bigger employer than the state’s famous steel sector. This year Pennsylvania’s state government is expected to take in some $247 million in gas-related fees.
New York’s government-imposed gas shortage will likely get worse. In April 2020, Entergy, the utility that owns Westchester’s Indian Point Energy Center, will permanently shutter one of the two reactors at the 2,069-megawatt nuclear facility. It will shut down the other reactor in April 2021. The closures are the result of low electricity prices and years of costly legal battles with environmental groups and state regulators. Indian Point supplies about 25% of the electricity consumed in New York City.
According to the New York Independent System Operator, the nonprofit that manages the state’s electric grid, Indian Point’s output will be replaced by three gas-fired generators, two of which are in New York state. If utilities are already running short on gas, where will they get the fuel for the generators to replace the juice now coming from Indian Point?
New York Public Service Commission Chairman John B. Rhodes doesn’t appear overly concerned. A few days after Con Ed announced the moratorium on new gas connections, he issued a statement saying his agency is “taking quick and diligent steps to address” the issue by pushing utilities to seek “natural gas supply alternatives.” His statement had four mentions of “clean energy” but no mentions of the word “pipeline.”


The gas shortage means more bad news for Westchester County, which is already wobbling at the prospect of losing about 1,000 jobs when Indian Point closes. Last month Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Democrat from Scarsdale, told a local newspaper that the moratorium on new gas connections would “devastate” development in her district. She said the gas shortage would pose a particular problem for the development of affordable housing units.

Con Edison issues natural gas moratorium in Westchester, spurs fears of ...Local and state officials fear Westchester's recent development renaissance will come to a screeching halt becau...


“This probably represents a billion dollars of development that will just stop,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano in an interview with the local CBS affiliate. “These big-pocketed developers are just going to move their developments to other communities.”
Less than two weeks after Con Ed announced the moratorium on new gas connections, the utility announced it would seek an 11% hike in residential natural-gas rates and a nearly 6% increase in residential electricity rates.
Policies have consequences. The moratorium on gas connections in Westchester is one of the knock-on effects of the antihydrocarbon policies of the Cuomo administration, and consumers will be forced to pay the bill.
Mr. Bryce is a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and producer of the forthcoming documentary “Juice: How Electricity Explains the World.”

The Energy Infrastructure and Economy Summit, sponsored by the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, was held at the Otesaga Hotel on Thursday, Jan.31. Starting at 9:00 AM, ending at 4:00 PM. it featured 19 speakers and 170 attendees. The conference tilterd heavily towards renewables but there was substantial balance with 4 pro gas industry-supportive speakers plus a majority pro-gas business community in attendance. Our Association had a presence, not only in securing speakers but also with members in the audience. We have to show up and make our voices heard because the antis have a local and national agenda and they are playing for keeps.

Here's the deal. Fossil fuels, particularly gas, are the roadblock to the antis' nirvana of a renewable energy powered society. You've heard of it -- the Green New Deal. Their target is gas because it crushes renewables in the market place. Gas is cheap, abundant, reliable, famiiar, and easy to use. An elite cartel has pin-pointed the gas infrastructure. Their goal is to to keep-gas-in-the-ground at all costs. The the upper escelons of this movement are a powerful elite; your friends and neighbors are in the rank-and-file.

The plan has been consistent over the years; scare people. politicize the issue, impede natural gas, tout renewables, set up mechanisms to spread renewables by hiding true costs to taxpayer/ratepayers. It worked ten years ago with gas drilling. It's at work right now with pipelines.

The next move in the Otsego County Gas Wars will be staged in the Energy Committee of the County Legislature. The committee is tasked with creating an energy plan and are currently looking for a plan writer. The crucial issue -- will new gas infrastructure be included in Otsego County's official plan for growth or will anything related to gas be subverted?

The answer to this question is important. Two companies with a potential workforce of 450 people were interested in locating facilities in the County. They lost interest because of the unavailability of gas. How many more are we going to lose?

Keep tuned and keep the faith,

Dick

BY BRETT SAMUELS - 02/12/19 05:57 PM EST 524
President Trump on Tuesday suggested that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) open the state up to fracking to improve its economy, and he also raised concerns about the state's recent legislation that expanded access to abortion.

The two New Yorkers spoke at the White House after Cuomo requested a meeting to discuss a provision in the Republicans' 2017 tax-cut law that caps the state and local tax (SALT) deduction at $10,000.

The meeting largely focused on economic issues, though Trump brought up abortion as well, the White House said.

Deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement that Trump listened to Cuomo's concerns about SALT, and "reiterated the negative impact that high taxes in states like New York have on hardworking families and job creators."

"The President discussed economic growth opportunities for the State of New York, including helping lower energy prices throughout the entire Northeast by allowing low-cost, American energy to thrive with fracking and pipeline systems," Deere said. "The two also discussed the need to update America’s outdated infrastructure system."

Cuomo signed a ban on fracking in New York roughly four years ago, citing health risks. The practice involves injecting water and chemicals underground in order to fracture rocks and release natural gas.

The governor has faced criticism for the stagnating economy in parts of upstate New York, where fracking could provide a boost.

Trump earlier this month suggested that those in upstate New York struggling to find prosperity should "go to another state where they can get a great job."

Tuesday's meeting came after Cuomo earlier this month said that personal income tax receipts declined in the state in December and January. He attributed that decline to the cap on the SALT deduction.

Cuomo has argued that the rule disproportionately harms residents of New York and other high-tax states like California and New Jersey.

Trump last week indicated that he is open to revisiting the cap on the deduction. However, a spokesman for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said the panel wouldn't revisit the deduction cap this year.

In addition to the economic discussion, Trump "raised his concerns to Governor Cuomo about Democrats’ support of late term abortions," Deere said.

New York lawmakers last month passed legislation expanding women’s access to abortions. The bill allows women to get abortions after 24 weeks if their life or health is threatened by the pregnancy, or if the fetus is not viable.

Trump has seized on the bill, as well as another proposal in Virginia that would allow third-trimester abortions in certain cases, to hammer Democrats and call on Congress to pass legislation outlawing late-term abortions.

Southwestern Pennsylvania continued to grow its share of shale gas drilling in 2018, gaining 401 wells since Jan. 1, 2018.

The 11-county region — Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Clarion, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland — accounted for half of the 795 new wells added in Pennsylvania last year.

Statewide, Susquehanna County added 180 wells last year, tops in the state. Greene county was next, with 116 and Washington County added 105 wells. Washington and Greene counties made up three-quarters of the new wells drilled in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The most active operator for new wells in the ground in 2018 was Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., which operated entirely in Susquehanna County last year, adding 122 wells in the northeastern county. EQT Corp., the region's most-active driller, has more than 1,300 wells in the region, and added 98 last year. Range Resources Corp. added 80 wells, to push its local well total to almost 1,250. Chevron Corp. and CNX Resources Corp. also added more than 50 wells in southwestern Pennsylvania last year.

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