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October 22, 2019 3:00 PM, EDT

Williams CEO Says Its Gas Pipe Can Help Cuomo’s NY Green Goals

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo by Peter Foley/Bloomberg News

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A natural gas pipeline that has been held up by New York could help Gov. Andrew Cuomo meet his ambitious clean energy goals if he approves it, according to the developer behind the $1 billion project.

“It really does align well with Governor Cuomo’s efforts to both continue to grow the economy as well as reduce emissions pretty dramatically,” Alan Armstrong, chief executive officer of Williams Cos., said about the Northeast Supply Enhancement project.

Earlier in 2019, New York rejected the company’s application for a key permit, setting off a clash between Cuomo and National Grid Plc, which froze new gas hookups in some communities. The utility said the pipeline needed to be approved and encouraged customers to write to the governor’s office in support of the project. Cuomo fired back this month and ordered it to immediately resume connections to some customers.

While environmentalists argue such projects only serve to increase reliance on fossil fuels, Armstrong said the pipeline would reduce emissions to the equivalent of taking half a million cars off the road because the majority of the gas would go to displacing heating oil.

The end result of such projects being rejected would mean that gas supplies will have to be transported in by truck or heating oil use will rise — both at the expense of higher emissions, the CEO said in an interview at an energy conference in Kentucky on Oct. 21.

Cuomo in July signed the most stringent clean energy goal in the U.S., seeking to get all of New York’s electricity from emissions-free sources by 2040, and an 85% reduction in economywide carbon emissions by 2050 from a 1990 baseline.

“If you are really passionate about climate change, stepping over and ignoring this opportunity makes no sense at all,” Armstrong said.

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