Jeffries Weighs In On National Grid Natural Gas Moratorium

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-(D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie, Mill Basin, Coney Island, South Ozone Park and Howard Beach in Queens) yesterday weighed in on whether the state should allow National Grid to build a northeast natural gas supply pipeline.

The question came from an attendee at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s latest installation of the Brooklyn Newsmakers event series, held is in connection with NYU Tandon School of Engineering and is sponsored by Investors Bank.

It also came as the state and National Grid are deadlocked centered around the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s rejection earlier this year of a proposal from National Grid to build the 37-mile Williams Cos Inc’s Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline that would tap into an existing pipeline stretching from Pennsylvania to New York City.

According to National Grid, the pipeline has become an urgent need, as the economy in New York City is booming, and their current pipeline is at capacity. Thus, they imposed the moratorium meant to prevent a gas shortage during colder days which would result due to the lack of NESE.

But Cuomo noted today that National Grid’s proposed pipeline, if permitted, would not be in service until December 2020 at the earliest. There are alternative forms of gas delivery beyond pipelines; their failure to adequately anticipate this issue and provide for it will immediately be under review, he said.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

“I think we have to evaluate how to move to a clean energy economy and time is running out. Clearly, fossil fuels and our reliance on them has had devastating consequences on the environment, and so eventually we need to get to a place where we are relying more on renewable energy, solar and wind being the most relevant and important in that area,” said Jeffries.

“And then there’s a debate, what if any role should there be for natural gas for instance. Now part of the concern is that, in terms of carbon emissions, it doesn’t do the degree of damage that other traditional fossil fuels but in terms of concerns as it relates to environmental pollution connecting to fracking there is a real reason to be concerned about it.

“I think it has to be evaluated in the totality of where we are going, and I wouldn’t rush into doing anything because we are at a moment of crisis. My position is to let’s wait and see where the House comes down before I decide to forcefully weigh in whatever perspective, recognizing the challenges that I laid out and the options that we have,” he added.

Jeffries did call putting an end to the moratorium an important consideration, especially as the borough is seeing businesses that can’t open and after investing a lot of money now can’t get gas.