Cuomo should deny permit for pipeline

*Cuomo should deny permit for pipeline

Cuomo should deny permit for pipeline

Gov. Andrew Cuomo may not realize it, but the eyes of the climate movement are currently focused on him like a laser.

He and New York state are on the cusp of demonstrating unprecedented leadership in the global struggle to combat climate change.

New York has said no to fracking. The governor has vetoed the Port Ambrose offshore LNG export terminal. But across the country and around the world, fracking is rapidly expanding.

President Obama and governors like California’s Jerry Brown have been among its biggest cheerleaders, as was Hillary Clinton while serving as Secretary of State. Now their worst nightmare is unfolding near Los Angeles, where the biggest environmental disaster since the BP Gulf oil spill is currently taking place.

People are getting sick and whole communities are being temporarily relocated because of an out-of-control natural gas leak that has been going on for over three months and is still weeks, perhaps months, away from being brought under control.

Natural gas is primarily methane, which is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than the more often-mentioned villain, carbon dioxide.

That is the one inconvenient truth that so many climate change believers, like Obama and Hillary, seem unwilling to accept. Bernie Sanders has come out strongly against all fracking. But, at least for now, as only one of 100 senators, he can’t do much to slow it down. Gov. Cuomo is the one politician who can begin to turn this ship around.

Banning fracking but building its infrastructure in New York would, at best, be counterproductive, to use a polite term. It would lock us into decades of more fossil fuel use and slow our transition to renewable energy, our only real hope.

The next big test for the governor comes when he decides whether or not to allow the 125-mile-long Constitution Pipeline to be built. He and DEC [Department of Environmental Conservation] can stop that project by denying a water quality certificate (401), which should be denied given the negative impact the pipeline will have on the nearly 300 water bodies it will cross. That decision must be made in less than three months.

Many have encouraged the governor to deny the 401, and we’ve been patient and hopeful awaiting his decision. Contrast that with the article that appears on the Natural Gas NOW website, “Andrew Cuomo: New York’s Gutless Governor.” That headline says a lot about them rather than the governor, who hasn’t yet tipped his hand about which direction he is leaning.

But now there is a reason why the governor, who has all the facts he needs, should act soon, perhaps very soon. FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) is trying to force approval of this pipeline.

FERC, being FERC and having never met a pipeline it didn’t like (literally never), has decided to segment the project, even though legally they aren’t suppose to. About 25 miles of the Constitution will be built in Pennsylvania.

Recently, FERC gave authorization to begin cutting roughly 100,000 mature trees in Pennsylvania. Their intention is to create extra pressure on New York to grant the 401 and get this thing built.

Mario Cuomo wrote a book to his grandchildren called “The Blue Spruce.” It’s based on a true story about how he and his father struggled to prop up a large tree in their yard that had been blown over in a wind storm.

That one tree was very important to both of them, and the message was that you lose only when you stop trying. They succeeded in righting the tree.

If Andrew Cuomo quickly denies the 401, not only will he lead the country, indeed the world, in a new direction in combating climate change, but he will have saved not just one, but a whole linear forest full of trees that connects us to the good people of Pennsylvania, who will only have more fracking in their backyards if New York allows the Constitution to be built.

While the general public didn’t know Andrew’s grandfather, we knew Mario. He could be counted on to make the right call on big issues, even if he had to go against the grain. Climate change is the issue for our generation, for Andrew’s generation. Gov. Cuomo, take the lead. Please. Do it soon and, as a bonus, you can save 100,000 Pennsylvania trees and add a new chapter to “The Blue Spruce.”

Bill Kitchen


Categories: Letters to the Editor

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