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Another Voice: New York needs pipeline to take advantage of shale boom

By Craig Stevens

After years of closing its doors to the extraordinary shale boom happening in its backyard, New York has an opportunity in the Northern Access Pipeline to secure reliable access to affordable fuels. For too long, state policymakers have systematically shut out opportunities to utilize the state’s abundant oil and gas resources. It is time the public demand that their leaders put aside rhetoric and do what’s right for New Yorkers.

The Northern Access Pipeline is a critical piece of infrastructure to this state’s energy security. The nearly 100-mile transportation line will supply markets throughout Western New York with clean-burning natural gas, providing a much-needed contact point to the shale development that is happening across the region. While it’s not a silver bullet, the Northern Access Pipeline is a necessary first step to begin reversing the consequences of policymakers’ ill-guided anti-fossil fuel policies.

Despite the region’s vast shale resources, New Yorkers face wild fluctuations in energy prices, which owe largely to infrastructure constraints. During the polar vortex last winter, the Northeast faced record natural gas prices even while national averages remained steady. In New York, consumers paid $137 above market spot prices because of pipeline limitations that made it difficult to redirect fuels to those in need. And experts predict a similar scenario this year.

Projects like the Northern Access Pipeline stand to not only benefit local consumers, but also to position New York to be a gateway for its neighbors to the north. The economic impacts are potentially vast — and immediate. The Northern Access project, for example, will invest $500 million into local economies. Construction is expected to create more than 1,600 good-paying jobs, generating nearly $140 million in wages. Once up and running, the pipeline will create over $11 million in tax revenue for New York.

Unfortunately, some ideological activists are trying to derail the Northern Access Pipeline and projects like it. These individuals are bent on keeping all fossil fuels in the ground, no matter the cost. Following a playbook of disruption and litigation, and often organized by national special interest groups, this small but vocal minority seems impervious to New York’s needs and to the hard-working men and women who are affected by high energy costs.

It’s worth nothing that neighboring states like Pennsylvania, which have courted opportunities to invest in smart infrastructure, are attracting industry and securing their spot as the nation’s energy leaders. In Pennsylvania, producers extracted 13 percent more natural gas through the first three quarters of 2018 over the prior year. That growth is pulling in new investment, creating markets for related products and helping propel the country’s march toward energy independence.

For too long, New York policymakers have been on the wrong side of the remarkable shale development happening all around. It’s time leaders set aside the exaggeration espoused by ideological activists and consider opportunities to invest in modernizing this state’s infrastructure.

Craig Stevens, a native of Holland, N.Y., is a former senior adviser to U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman, and is currently the spokesman for Grow America’s Infrastructure Now.

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