Ever since May of this year, the utility company National Grid has had a moratorium on new natural gas customers in certain areas around New York City. The reason? They don’t have enough gas in the pipeline to serve more people. This is a problem that’s gone largely ignored in the media and you rarely hear any politicians talking about. However, one CBS New York reporter finally caught up with Governor Andrew Cuomo as he was dedicating a new bridge construction project this week and put the question to him. In an attempt to answer, let’s just say he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory.
“What are you going to do about National Grid, which is withholding gas hook-ups from businesses, from people?” Kramer asked. “Governor, I wonder what you say to people who can’t open their apartments and their homes because they turned off the gas to do renovations and now National Grid won’t let them turn it back on? To a Chinese American society in Bensonhurst that can’t provide meals?”
“If you’re saying that there are current gas clients who are being denied gas, that’s a health and safety violation,” Cuomo said. “No utility company should be doing that.”
When pressed again by Kramer as to what he’s going to do about it, Cuomo said, “The Public Service Commission should … You tell me where and we will have the Public Service Commission investigate.”
When told of the problems in Farmingdale, Bensonhurst and Park Slope, Cuomo said, “I’m not aware of any situation where an existing client couldn’t get gas.
You’ll notice that the Governor is only answering one part of a larger question. (In fairness to Cuomo, the reporter cited examples that apply to that answer.) They’re talking about people who had existing accounts but had the gas turned off for renovations, repairs and such and now National Grid won’t turn on their gas supply again. This is a valid question because if they already had an account and no new services have been added, there should still be enough gas for them
But he’s not addressing the larger issue. There are construction projects either planned or underway that are hanging under a cloud. National Grid won’t approve any new customer accounts. Cuomo doesn’t want to talk about that part of it because at least in part, he helped create the problem.
This is something I wrote about back in May. The idea that anyone in America should be short of natural gas these days is kind of insane. We’re practically drowning in it. But what we lack is the infrastructure to get it everywhere it’s needed. New York sits on massive natural gas deposits, but can’t access them because Cuomo put a moratorium on all drilling. And the pipelines bringing natural gas to the Big Apple from Pennsylvania (the nearest convenient source) are old and too small.
Requests for new pipelines to be approved and expand the natural gas transport levels have been in the works for years, but Democrats (including Cuomo) have managed to shut them down because they’re saving the Earth or something. Now the natural gas chickens have come home to roost. And if Cuomo doesn’t get a new pipeline approved fast, there will be no new construction around the Big Apple that can’t operate entirely on electricity. (And even that’s going to become scarce in a few years at the rate we’re going.)
It would be nice to see CBS go back for another bite at the apple and ask Cuomo about these larger issues and long-term challenges. Sadly, the only solutions he could propose will go against his liberal values, so New York City can just do without, I suppose.