LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Natural Gas Moratorium Not Unexpected

Philip Weiden | March 2019

The Natural Gas Moratorium announced by Con Edison, affecting new requests for natural gas service, will stunt growth and halt many development projects that could be coming online. For years New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has rejected construction of new natural gas pipelines across New York State. Warnings have been sounded regarding the problem of insufficient supply for new customers in the lower Hudson Valley. We need urgent solutions to this self-made crisis.

Climate change is a problem that must be acknowledged. Most people do not deny that. However, redevelopment has contributed to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions along with natural gas, which is rapidly replacing the use of coal. Natural gas has been the ultimate driver of reducing carbon emissions over the last decade or so. Wind and solar energy definitely have a future, but we are simply not that close to the point where they can take over powering our cities supply wise or at an economical rate.

Another way to fight climate change, which we do here in New York, is to preserve more land. That is a definite plus, and has been done, and will continue to be done. There is definitely a case to be made that over development is not good for the environment and also harmful for people who live in expanding flood zones after hurricanes and other damaging weather events. Much new development today is focused on rentals, condos, co-ops and townhouses built near train stations. It is aptly known as transit-oriented development.

According to the EPA targets through 2017, we have met the emissions reductions requirements laid out under the previous administration. This is a plus. Other alternatives include building more nuclear power plants, which are carbon free. However, people reject this proposed alternative because of fears of nuclear radiation leaks. Back in the 70s these were valid concerns but they are ameliorated today with safer technology and built in fail safes, as they are called, that would presumably prevent radiation leaks.

Finally, we do have to be honest about tradeoffs. We cannot have robust economic growth and jobs in the New York area if we do not have an adequate and affordable power supply. We can continue to reduce carbon emissions and have economic growth, but we must be honest about tradeoffs that come with it, and stay away from hyperbolic predictions made by extreme groups that are single-minded in their purpose. Stay tuned for more updates on this as the year continues.

Philip Weiden
Legislative Affairs columnist Philip Weiden is the Government Affairs Director for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.