In the New York Metropolitan region owning or starting a business can be a precipitous journey. Though many of the high costs and regulatory burdens are known beforehand, it is the unexpected that can rapidly sink a business. A recent example of this is New York and New Jersey’s rejection of the Williams Cos. Pipeline Expansion better known as The Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project. Williams Cos. will reapply for approval but many NYC and Long Island businesses are caught in the middle of a fight they never saw coming.
The $1 billion NESE would extend from the New Jersey shore across Raritan Bay and interconnecting with Williams’ existing Transco pipeline into New York. It would connect National Grid to additional natural gas supply from the prolific Marcellus Basin. Per Pipeline & Gas Journal.
In response to the rejected application, National Grid said they will not accept any new natural gas customers in New York City (Brooklyn & Queens) or Long Island until the NESE pipeline is approved. This follows Consolidated Edison’s (ConEd) moratorium in Westchester County. Both utilities claim that existing pipelines can’t satisfy increased demand for natural gas. In Westchester this could also impede the construction of 16,000 new homes. There is serious concern that this may be the last straw for many would be projects on Long Island. Environmental groups claim the pipeline is unnecessary and would further the regions reliance on fossil fuels. They believe in the continued push towards alternative energy sources. Their efforts as well as concerns with water quality led to the rejected application by New York and New Jersey.
The biggest issue for business groups is, that while renewable fuel sources are the future, they are not the present. “Renewable projects are a long-term play, but they’re not here yet,” said Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association. “They can’t turn on lights, heat our homes or cool our buildings for many years to come.” It should be noted that labor groups have lobbied in favor of the pipeline as well, on the belief that investment in job creation requires certainty about energy supplies. There is also a belief among business and labor advocates that this rejection prevents, or at least slows, the regional transition from heating oil to cleaner-burning gas.
The natural gas standoff comes on the heels of people, businesses and tax revenue, leaving the region in droves. When elected officials talk about sustainability, they should factor in the sustainability of an economy without small businesses or entrepreneurship.