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New York Turn Down Natural Gas Pipeline

The denial of the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project came as Washington state and Los Angeles also turned their backs on natural gas

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New York, natural, gas, pipeline
A jogger runs past the Scattergood power plant, Feb. 12, 2019, in Los Angeles. Los Angeles will abandon a plan to spend billions rebuilding three natural gas power plants as the city moves toward renewable energy, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday.

 bid to build a controversial pipeline to boost New York’s natural gas supply was rejected Wednesday by authorities, the latest manifestation of a nationwide divide over the United States’ energy future.

The denial of the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project, whose plans included about 23 miles (37 km) of submarine pipeline off New York City’s coast, came as Washington state and Los Angeles also turned their backs on natural gas.

The nearly $1 billion plan by energy infrastructure firm Williams was denied by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, which cited concerns over water quality and aquatic life.

“Construction of the proposed project would result in significant water quality impacts from the re-suspension of sediments and other contaminants, including mercury and copper,” it said in a statement.

Washington state and Los Angeles

The decision comes a week after Washington state Governor Jay Inslee opposed two natural gas projects in his state, and three months after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city would phase out natural gas operations at three power plants.

New York, natural, gas, pipeline
A bid to build a controversial pipeline to boost New York’s natural gas supply was rejected Wednesday. Pixabay

In a statement, Williams lamented the decision and said it would resubmit an application to obtain the permits.

“The Department of Environmental Conservation raised a minor technical issue with our application for water quality certification,” said Chris Stockton, a Williams spokesman.

Natural gas use grows

Natural gas consumption has been growing steadily across the United States, totaling nearly 30,000 billion cubic feet last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The NESE project would have added 0.4 billion cubic feet a day. It takes 1 billion cubic feet to supply about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.

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Though natural gas emits less planet-warming carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels, the pipeline would have been “a step in the wrong direction,” locking the country into a high-carbon future, said Robert Howarth, a professor at Cornell University.

A landmark United Nations report on climate change said last year that to keep the Earth’s temperature rise to a 1.5 degrees C (2.7 F) target would require that renewable energy supply 70% to 85% of electricity by 2050, compared with about 25% now.

“New York should be a leader toward that transition” to renewables, Howarth said. (VOA)

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Trump Administration Commits to Make Fossil Fuels Cleaner, Says Energy Secretary

Fossil fuel emissions have been cited by scientists as a major source of global warming

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U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, center, speaks as Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, left, and and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon look on at an energy summit, May 30, 2019, in Salt Lake City. VOA

The Trump administration is committed to making fossil fuels cleaner rather than imposing “draconian” regulations on coal and oil, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Thursday at an energy conference in Salt Lake City.

Perry previously said the administration wants to spend $500 million next year on fossil fuel research and development as demand plummets for coal and surges for natural gas.

“Instead of punishing fuels that produce emissions through regulation, we’re seeking to reduce those emissions by innovation,” Perry said at the conference. Fossil fuel emissions have been cited by scientists as a major source of global warming.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently said the world must change how it fuels factories, vehicles and homes to limit future global warming.

Perry said the Trump administration has proven it can make energy cleaner, but he provided no details involving coal and other fossil fuels, other than the closing of old, inefficient coal-burning power plants and exporting increasing volumes of natural gas, an alternative to coal.

fossil fuels
Protesters gather outside the Utah Governor’s Energy Summit at Grand America Hotel, May 30, 2019, in Salt Lake City. VOA

Department of Energy spokesman Dirk Vande Beek didn’t immediately return an email and voicemail seeking more details about Perry’s claim.

Perry pointed to an overall drop in emissions as proof of progress.

Greenhouse gas emissions dropped 13 percent from 2005 to 2017, according to the most recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lindsay Beebe of the Sierra Club in Utah said trying to make fossil fuels cleaner is misspent energy.

“I don’t know that it’s possible right now, but what is ready right now are renewables. Wind, solar and geothermal are commercially viable and at scale,” Beebe said.

The summit Thursday was briefly interrupted when 15 protesters took the stage to criticize the administration’s fixation on fossil fuels.

They said the misguided approach ignores climate change. Police then escorted them out.

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About 25 protesters are escorted by police after interrupting a energy summit where U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry spoke, May 30, 2019, in Salt Lake City. Perry says the Trump administration is committed to making fossil fuels cleaner rather than imposing “draconian” regulations on oil, gas and coal. VOA

After they left, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who sponsored the event, said he and other leaders appreciated the “youthful enthusiasm” but their call to immediately discard fossil fuels and shift entirely to renewable energy isn’t realistic.

“They would like us to quit by Friday and not take anything out of the ground,” Herbert said. “That obviously doesn’t work from a practical standpoint.”

ALSO READ: Chinese Scientists Discover CO2 More Efficient to Use in Fracking than Water

Americans burned a record amount of energy in 2018, with a 10% jump in consumption from booming natural gas helping lead the way, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.

Fossil fuels in all accounted for 80% of Americans’ energy use. (VOA)