New York state regulators have denied permits for a natural gas pipeline that would supply a $900 million power plant in the Hudson Valley. It represents a shift in policy detrimental to the fossil fuel industry and critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to two Cornell University experts.
Anthony Ingraffea, a leading researcher on hydrofracturing and a professor in the College of Engineering at Cornell, says the decision by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to deny fuel access to the power plant represents a turning point in environmental policy.
“The decision by DEC to effectively deny access to fuel for a new $900 million gas-fired power plant is pivotal for New York state. It is pivotal because New York finally realized it cannot reach its greenhouse gas reduction objectives by allowing such a plant to go into operation. In effect, regulations caught up to climate science and the importance of methane emissions. The plant will be a stranded-asset monument to the failed high-point of fossil fuel infrastructure.”
Robert Howarth, biogeochemist, ecosystem scientist and professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell, says New York state’s use of natural gas has grown in recent years, and the decision to deny permits to the pipeline is an important step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“New York banned fracking in 2014 and has set ambitious goals to move the state toward a renewable economy. Nonetheless, the use of natural gas in the state has continued to grow, and almost all of this natural gas is now fracked gas from the shale fields of Pennsylvania.
“Methane emissions from fracked gas are high, and methane is more than 100 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Consequently, the greenhouse gas footprint for energy use in New York has exploded over the past few years. To meet our commitment to a fossil-fuel-free future, New York needs to aggressively move away from shale gas.
“By denying the permit for a gas pipeline to the huge new Competitive Power Ventures power plant, the state, Governor Cuomo, and the DEC have shown strong leadership and a welcome shift in policy that now recognizes the huge threat to the climate posed by expanded use of natural gas.”