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Natural Gas In New York

Recently, both National Grid and Con Edison in the New York City area announced that because of capacity restraints they could no longer hook-up new natural gas customers.

Of course, the political reactions were predictable. Everyone from the Governor of New York to legislative leaders blamed the utility companies. New investigations will now be undertaken at taxpayer expense to continue this blame game.

The truth, of course, is that state policy in New York has been to disapprove new natural gas pipelines. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that this policy will mean less natural gas being transported to customers. Upstate, we have a saying that describes this truth: “Chickens come home to roost.”

The public policy behind all of this is well-intentioned: stop any new fossil fuel development in the name of bettering climate change. The actual result has been to stop growth and business development in the state without consideration being given to the most eco-friendly fossil fuel we have–natural gas. Since the mid-1970’s carbon emissions in the state have decreased about 25% primarily due to the use of natural gas.

The whole situation is sad, really. Certain leaders in the environmental movement have led the state (and in particular the Democratic Party) down a primrose path which is really unsustainable. Saying that we can have energy life as usual without natural gas in the mix, is a false dream. It wasn’t too long ago when the MTA and other transportation agencies were touting the use of this fuel on their buses to reduce carbon emissions.

Concurrently, there is now also a plan in place to shut down electricity production at Indian Point near New York City. Of course, no new natural gas pipelines have been approved for Indian Point, and the plan to replace the current nuclear generation outside of the promise of wind farms off the coast of Long Island, is a pipe-dream many decades away. Mayor Di Blasio’s idea of building an underground electric transmission line to import hydro power from Quebec was proposed long ago by the Governor and is still years away from being implemented. I am glad that I don’t live in New York City or its suburbs right now. Their energy future doesn’t look very good.

Fortunately, those of us who live Upstate have plenty of passive solar energy–wood.

One way or another, we will find a way to heat our homes and keep things moving despite all of this nonsense. We also support renewable energy efforts… but to exclude natural gas, the cleanest and most affordable fuel we currently have? No thank you.

The worst case scenario is that we can move a few miles and be in Pennsylvania where at least, for now, common-sense policies of promoting renewable energy along with natural gas still happen. Only in New York do we promise energy while at the same time stopping its development. Welcome to the Empire State!

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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