Opponents rally against 23-mile gas pipeline extension
A rally was held Monday in Mineola by opponents of a natural gas pipeline extension plan.
A private company wants to build the Williams Pipeline, a 23-mile extension of an existing pipeline that would bring in natural gas. It would extend from New Jersey, across New York Harbor and to the Rockaways.
Opponents say they are concerned about potential environmental damage that could result.
"We don't want the pipeline to be built because of the climate impacts, the water impacts and the impacts on the communities along the shore where it would be built," says Laura Shindell, from Food and Water Action.
National Grid says the pipeline is desperately needed. It recently instated a moratorium on new gas installations and says it cannot meet the demand.
Some people in the area say National Grid's moratorium on new gas hookups is hurting Long Island's economy. Major housing projects have been out on hold. And in many communities, including Lynbrook, new businesses can't open because they can't get natural gas service.
"We're all in favor of renewable energy sources, but until we get from point A to point B, we need this gas," says Stephen Wangel from the Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce.
He adds, "It isn't a question of us taking sides. We understand the environmental concerns, we understand National Grid's concerns. We don't care how it gets resolved, we just need the gas turned on."
Shindell says she doesn’t believe National Grid’s need for the project is legitimate.
“We maintain that National Grid is manufacturing this crisis— there is still no data to support that there is a gas shortage— in order to lobby its customers to support the pipeline,” she says.
National Grid says its shortage of natural gas is real and not an attempt to gain support for the project. It also calls natural gas the most cost effective and environmentally sound option to heat homes and businesses.
The private company has been turned down twice by New York state for a permit, but it has now applied a third time.
Protesters say they want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make sure the company is turned down again.