Danny Barber, a NYCHA tenant leader who backs NESE pipeline project
A prominent advocate for tenants who live in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) apartment buildings is speaking up to support Williams’ Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline project. Daniel Barber, head of the Citywide Council of Presidents of NYCHA tenants’ associations, announced yesterday that without NESE, what’s already a crisis will become even worse. People without heat in the winter and without hot water year round. You MUST watch a short video (below) and read about how some of New York’s poorest residents will be harmed if NESE is blocked by Gov. Cuomo.
These numbers are hard to believe, but in the winter of 2017/2018, some 323,000 NYCHA tenants had no heat in their apartments. That’s a third of a million people! In the biggest city in America! Moms sending their kids to bed “fully clothed” and everybody piling into the same bed, just to keep warm. Barber says the crisis will grow worse without NESE.
National Grid is already sent letters to NYCHA apartment buildings warning they will have “no firm service” because of the existing delay with NESE. If NESE gets canceled? It’s unthinkable what will happen to these poor people.
A pipeline crossing New York Harbor could bring financial relief to the city’s 334 NYCHA complexes, according to a top tenant leader.
Daniel Barber, head of the Citywide Council of Presidents of NYCHA tenants’ associations, announced on Wednesday that he’s officially getting behind the controversial Northeast Supply Enhancement natural gas project.
“I’m in favor of natural gas infrastructure that will broaden NYCHA’s access to cleaner, more efficient and reliable fuel sources. Projects like NESE create more overall system reliability and increase access for low income communities to a cleaner fuel source. I urge the NYSDEC to approve the NESE project today,” Barber said.
The 47-year-old is joining forces with Energy Justice for All, which is releasing a video ad featuring Barber, and a collection of business groups and utility companies warning of a looming natural gas shortage in the city if the 23-mile fracked gas pipeline, known as the Williams Pipeline, is not approved.
A Citizens Budget Commission report found last year that converting oil heating systems to cheaper natural gas cut NYCHA’s utility costs by $48 million from 2013 to 2016, but that savings could be in jeopardy, Barber warned.
Thousands of NYCHA residents suffer though heatless winter nights thanks to the problem-plagued agency’s aging infrastructure.
“NYCHA facilities in National Grid territory are receiving ‘no firm service’ letters because the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project has not been approved yet. This means certain NYCHA heating system upgrades will be indefinitely put on hold,” he added.
Con Ed and National Grid have both warned they will place a moratorium on new gas service connections across the city unless the pipeline project gets the green light from the state. The Department of Environmental Conservation is expected to make a decision on whether to approve, deny, or delay construction on the pipeline bringing natural gas from shale fields in Pennsylvania into homes in the five boroughs by May 16.
Environmentalists, surfers and Rockaways residents have been fighting the project since it was announced nearly two years ago, arguing that the pipeline is potentially dangerous and unnecessary as the demand for natural gas will likely fall off in the future as New York switches to more renewable sources. Gov. Cuomo has committed to ending the state’s dependence on fossil fuels by 2040.
Kimberly Ong, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the dredging and digging involved during construction could lead to arsenic, lead, zinc, and mercury from past industrial dumping making its way into New York waters.
“The effect of these contaminants being re-suspended in the water will clog fish gills and make it too cloudy for fish and other marine life to do basic things needed for their survival such as migration, finding food and laying eggs,” Ong said.
The environmental group 350.org issued a report last month penned by Suzanne Mattei, the former regional director for the DEC, arguing that WIlliams, the Oklahoma company behind the project, has a spotty safety record and that the demand for natural gas is declining nationwide.
“The Williams NESE Pipeline Project would move the State of New York, the counties of Long Island and the City of New York in a direction that subverts the State energy policies established by the Governor as well as New York City initiatives,” Mattei concluded. “This nonessential yet costly pipeline construction proposal should be rejected in favor of the diverse energy efficiency and renewable energy alternatives that are available.”
Supporters claim the pipeline will lead to a net positive for the environment in the long run and will reduce CO2 emissions by 200,000 tons per year, equal to removing nearly 500,000 cars from the road for one year.
It will also allow for roughly 8,000 National Grid customers to convert from home heating oil to natural gas.
Sen. Kevin Parker, chairman of the Senate’s Energy Committee, also backs the project. The Brooklyn Democrat says he has concerns with relying on renewables in the future.
“They would have to show me somewhere in the State Energy Plan that gas isn’t going to be needed for the city for the next 30 years or ever,” Parker said. “I have concerns about people not having access to energy resources whether electric or gas to light or heat their homes.”*
*New York (NY) Daily News (Apr 17, 2019) – NYCHA tenant leader joins push for controversial natural gas pipeline across New York Harbor
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