PSC Press Release 2-6-20

For Immediate Release

February 6, 2020 

Ruth Foster, SNYFGP, 518-558-0187, rmfosterny@gmail.com
Eric Weltman, Food and Water Action, 347-778-2743; eweltman@fwwatch.org

Capital District Groups, Electeds and State Allies
Call Upon State to Reject Fracked Gas Pipeline 

Letter to Cuomo and PSC Commissioner Rhodes Signed by Over 100 Groups Says Albany Loop Pipeline Would be Inconsistent with New State Climate Law

ALBANY — Climate organizations, community groups and elected officials, local and statewide, delivered a letter to Public Service Commission (PSC) Chair John Rhodes and Governor Andrew Cuomo today signed by over 100 groups calling upon the PSC to reject the Albany Loop (E-37) Pipeline as inconsistent with the state’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, embodied in the state’s landmark 2019 state climate law.

“The Albany Loop pipeline, like all fracked gas pipelines, presents environmental and health risks to Capital area residents like our members,” said Becky Meier, the co-founder of Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline (SNYFGP), a Capital District group leading the opposition to the E-37 project. “It’s common sense that you can’t succeed in reducing climate warming fossil fuels while at the same time permitting new fracked gas pipelines. The Public Service Commission should reject National Grid’s Albany Loop pipeline as unnecessary, and contrary to New York’s ambitious climate goals.” SNYFGP was the lead New York state organization fighting the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline, whose sponsor withdrew its application in 2016.

In February of 2019, National Grid applied to the PSC to construct the 7.3 mile Albany Loop pipeline, otherwise known as the “E37” pipeline, through the towns of East Greenbush and North Greenbush in Rensselaer County and Bethlehem in Albany County. State climate and environmental organizations are targeting this particular project, because, as a gas pipeline less than 10 miles, it is solely subject to the approval of the state PSC rather than the federal government. It is therefore a test case as to how aggressively the state will implement the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), signed by the Governor in June. The CCLPA requires an 85% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 (40% by 2030), and directs all state agencies, including the PSC, to consider whether all permits or other administrative approvals are “consistent with or will interfere with the attainment” of the law’s GHG reduction limits. (The group letter is available at stopnypipeline.org.)

“National Grid has ignored the needs of the climate by proposing to construct a pipeline without providing any evidence as to whether any increased energy demand can be met by alternatives like energy efficiency and renewables,” said Bob Cohen, Policy Director of Citizen Action of New York, an attorney who is representing SNYFGP in the PSC proceeding. “To top it off, National Grid has shown contempt for the needs of residents by opposing the application of SNYFGP to be a party in the PSC proceeding. Since National Grid has not demonstrated why the pipeline is in the public interest as required by the Public Service Law, the project should be rejected.”

“The New York Power Authority wisely took a second look at its proposal to build a fracked gas plant in Albany’s Sheridan Hollow neighborhood, which would power, heat and cool the Empire State Plaza, because of the new climate law, and is now looking at renewable solutions,” said Albany County Legislator Merton Simpon, who represents the Sheridan Hollow neighborhood. “The PSC should also change its practices and take a hard look as to the climate impact of all projects before it. I believe that any fair look at the issues by the Public Service Commission will result in the rejection of National Grid’s Albany Loop application in favor of renewables and energy efficiency.”

Simpson will shortly submit a resolution to the Albany County Legislature opposing the Albany Loop project. The Towns of East Greenbush and Bethlehem have already passed resolutions in opposition to the project.

“The East Greenbush Town Board unanimously voted to oppose the Albany Loop E37 pipeline,” said Tina Tierney, Board Member of the Town of East Greenbush. “We have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for our residents, and this pipeline raises very serious safety concerns.  The proposed pipeline potentially threatens the environment, health, safety, and welfare of the community. The Albany Loop E37 pipeline would negatively impact East Greenbush. Our residents would bear all of the risks for a pipeline that would not provide any benefits to our community.”

“We need to fund renewable solutions now,” said Kim Fraczek, director of Sane Energy Project, and partner in the statewide Renewable Heat Now campaign. “The Public Service Commission must respond to New York residents, take our climate law seriously, and adjust their agency to the 21st century. We call on the Commission to work with local elected officials, the public, and renewable energy developers to transition from fossil fuels to renewable heating, in Albany and across the State. Renewable heating solutions exist now. To underfund them and allow utilities to take our money for gas investments is nothing more than climate denialism.”

“This fracked gas pipeline is a test of Governor Cuomo’s commitment to moving New York off fossil fuels,” said Eric Weltman, New York-based senior organizer with Food & Water Action. “Governor Cuomo must stand up to National Grid’s greedy attempt to maintain New York’s reliance on fossil fuels. New York’s ambitious climate goals are at serious risk if Governor Cuomo doesn’t block new fossil fuel projects like the Albany Loop pipeline.”

“As an energy policy expert and as an Albany County legislator, I see firsthand the challenges we face at the local level as we seek to address the challenge of climate disaster by moving off fossil fuels to renewable energy and making our existing buildings and transportation systems more energy efficient. The passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act is a great first step in confronting the global climate challenge and demonstrating leadership by New York State. It is now time for the State to implement those policies and actions that will allow New York to achieve the promise of the CLCPA to reduce greenhouse gases, create the economic transformation, green jobs and social equity achievable through a Green New Deal for New York, and to improve the health and welfare of all New Yorkers. A critical step in the state’s transformation to a clean and sustainable future is to end the Business-as-Usual expansions of fracked natural gas infrastructure, such as the Albany Loop Pipeline. For every incremental expansion of our fossil fuel infrastructure, it will be our children and grandchildren that pay the price.” said Bill Reinhardt, Albany County Legislator.

 

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