Foes Gear Up For Latest Fight Against Williams Gas Pipeline In NY/NJ

Apr 2, 2021

The seemingly never-ending fight over an Oklahoma company’s plan to build a natural gas pipeline through New Jersey into New York is on again.

Tulsa-based Williams Companies is asking federal regulators for a two-year extension to build its proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, which has had a long and contentious regulatory history.

In May 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorized Williams to build the project by May 3, 2021.

Last month, Williams asked the agency for a two-year extension for the project, which was rejected as recently as last May by regulators in New Jersey and New York.

In its request for an extension, Williams said the fundamental need for the pipeline still exists. In a statement Thursday, the company cited a severe winter storm in February that caused widespread damage and over 100 deaths in Texas as proof that adequate natural gas supplies must be guaranteed.

“The importance of adequate and reliable energy supply was made abundantly clear during the recent Winter Storm Uri, which highlighted the impact that extreme weather conditions can have on the electric grid and the critical role that natural gas plays both for residential heating and powering electric generation plants during periods of peak winter demand,” the company said.

The pipeline would add to the existing Transco pipeline and would carry enough gas to heat 2.3 million homes. It would take gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey and its Raritan Bay to New York.

Williams has said it plans to spend $926 million on the project, saying that it is needed to ensure adequate heating and energy supplies to New York City and Long Island, and that it can be built safely with minimal environmental disruption.

But opponents say it is unneeded and will encourage the burning of fossil fuels at a time when climate change is causing serious harm.

A coalition of environmental groups in New Jersey and New York issued a statement Thursday decrying the proposal and vowing to fight its latest iteration.

“This ‘un-NESE-ssary’ climate-changing and polluting project is back for an unbelievable fifth time,” said Cindy Zipf, executive director of New Jersey’s Clean Ocean Action. “New York and New Jersey governors said ‘no.’ Nothing has changed about the project except it’s running out of time. We urge FERC to let the clock run-out on this most unhealthy, unneeded, and unwanted fossil fuel burning project.”

The project would provide natural gas to Brooklyn Union Gas Company and KeySpan Gas East Corporation in New York.

It includes includes more than 23 miles of pipeline through Raritan Bay into New York, and a compressor station to be built in Franklin Township in Somerset County, New Jersey.

In its letter to the federal commission, Williams said there have been no environmental changes in the project area and no new information that would contradict the agency’s prior authorization of the project.