Gov. Andrew Cuomo kicked off his third term by issuing his own call for a Green New Deal for New York. While any vision for shifting the state to renewable energy is worth considering, his first test as a climate leader comes much sooner: His administration will decide soon whether to approve a fracked-gas pipeline proposed off NYC’s shoreline.
The Williams pipeline would ship gas under the New York harbor, running from New Jersey and along Staten Island, Coney Island and the Rockaways. It would deepen our reliance on dirty fossil fuels, threaten coastal communities and ocean ecology, and promote fracking in other states. In a world that must transition away from fossil fuels, this would be the wrong move.
More than four years ago, Cuomo banned fracking in New York. The bold decision defied the oil and gas industry. But New York has seen a buildout of fossil-fuel infrastructure since then, including pipelines and power plants approved by the Cuomo administration that transport and burn fracked gas. So while the governor banned fracking, his administration’s actions encouraged it in places including Pennsylvania and Ohio.
New York can move away from fossil fuels, and the science makes clear that we must. More climate chaos is on the horizon, and more disasters like Superstorm Sandy will pummel communities if we don’t act quickly. There is no reason New York should not lead the way.
The Cuomo administration should embrace a goal of moving to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2030. Adopting policies to boost wind and solar power will advance a real Green New Deal that creates thousands of jobs, reduces pollution and strikes a blow against climate chaos.
But doing what we should also means stopping dirty energy projects. That’s why Cuomo’s first move must be to stop this pipeline. Williams Transco is an Oklahoma-based company with a record of explosions and leaks. The construction could stir up toxins in the seabed, disrupting the remarkable comeback of the harbor.
It’s up to Cuomo to decide whether the Williams pipeline, which needs state permits, is built. He talks a good game on climate change, and sees himself as a leader who stands up to the Trump administration’s fossil-fuel agenda. His decision on the Williams pipeline will determine whether he means what he says.
Eric Weltman is a senior organizer with Food & Water Watch.