New York’s movement against fracking scored another huge win this month. On April 7, Governor Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) stopped the Northern Access Pipeline, which would have run nearly 100 miles, crossed hundreds of streams and wetlands, and moved half a billion cubic feet of fracked gas through Western New York every single day.
As was the case with the Constitution Pipeline a year ago, New Yorkers stood up and made themselves heard. Grassroots activists with Sierra Club Niagara Group, People Not Pipelines, and myriad other groups led the way, but the movement was truly statewide: New Yorkers from Montauk to Buffalo urged Cuomo to once again stand up to the oil and gas industry. Activists flooded the governor’s phone lines, wrote to him daily, and showed up at his doorstep in Albany in huge numbers at a March 27 rally to deliver a clear message: Stop this pipeline now!
Ultimately, the DEC refused to grant the 401 Water Quality Certificate, just as they did with the Constitution Pipeline. This sets a key precedent in New York, and we hope it provides a path for other states to stop the construction of other fracked-gas pipelines.
Without the large, well-organized grassroots movement, this victory would not have happened. New Yorkers have now won several huge victories against the oil and gas industry. From the ban on fracking in 2014, to stopping the Port Ambrose liquefied natural gas facility and the Constitution Pipeline, to this defeat of the Northern Access Pipeline, New Yorkers have shown that our people power can overcome the fossil fuel industry's nearly limitless budget.
While we celebrate this victory, we also know our work is far from done. New Yorkers are already hard at work on stopping the many other pipelines, compressor stations, fracked gas storage facilities, and gas fired power plants slated for construction. While Governor Cuomo made the right call on Northern Access, there are plent of other fracking-related projects he must stop.
Right after the Northern Access decision, Governor Cuomo said that pipelines were "fine" with him if "they're done correctly," and talked about gas being a “bridge fuel” to renewable energy. That's a dangerous myth, and it shows that Cuomo still needs to be pressured if we're going to stop other fracking infrastructure projects. That's exactly what New York’s anti-fracking movement will be doing, every step of the way, as we build a clean energy revolution.