05 • 16 • 2019

Huge Win on Williams Pipeline, But Fight Continues

By Matt Gove

Update June 2019: Williams has reapplied and we are fighting them again! Take a minute and send your governor a message: NEW JERSEY and for NEW YORK.

Surfrider is celebrating a decision by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to deny a water quality permit to the Williams Transco company for their proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline.

The New York City, Central Long Island, and Jersey Shore Chapters have been fighting the proposed pipeline for almost three years, working with a large coalition of other groups. The pipeline would carry fracked natural gas through New Jersey, under the NY/NJ Harbor, connecting into existing infrastructure off of Rockaway Beach in Queens.

Surfrider is concerned that the proposed pipeline would: stir up toxic pollutants on the bottom of the harbor, negatively impact sensitive species such as sturgeon and whales, and lock the region into fossil fuel pollution for decades, among other concerns. Rigorous research shows that the proposed pipeline is not only dangerous, but completely unnecessary. 

But this victory is not so simple. The DEC denied the permit “without prejudice”, which allows Williams to resubmit its application immediately, presumably with changes to how it will mitigate toxic pollution releases, DEC’s main objection to the project. 

Surfrider has seen pipelines stopped, only to be revived and built once the movement dies down, and Williams has already signaled that they will resubmit their application to DEC.

The Jersey Shore Chapter is hopeful that New Jersey will stop the project through a similar denial of a water quality permit, sans the “without prejudice” language. Such an act by Governor Murphy’s administration would stop the project for the foreseeable future. New Jersey has until June 20th to act.

Although this is a conditional victory, it’s a huge step in confronting the powerful fossil fuel industry, which is used to getting its way on these kind of infrastructure projects. This victory builds momentum for the fight against new pipelines and other fossil fuel projects all across the country. While the fight is not over, we are confident that this project will ultimately be blocked once and for all!