New York City’s Hudson River Gas Pipeline Has Been Approved

05/22/2012 3:41 PM |

Map of the pipeline route.

  • Map of the pipeline route.

A 15.2 mile gas pipeline that will run from Staten Island, through Jersey City, under the Hudson River and to the West Village has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, reports the Times. The pipeline, which has been debated by environmentalists, Manhattan residents, New Jersey elected officials for months, will cost $1.2 billion and transport up to 800 million cubic feet of gas a day.

Though the commission ruled that building the pipeline under a densely populated area shouldn’t pose significant environmental threats, critics of the endeavor have been wary of things like explosions, contamination of the water supply, as well as noise from construction.

“This approval clears the way for a much-needed new natural gas supply in the New York City region,” Mayor Bloomberg’s deputy mayor for operations, Caswell F. Holloway, said in a statement. He said the project would bolster the reliability of the city’s energy supply and help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and soot by providing an alternative to more polluting energy sources like oil.

But opponents on both sides of the Hudson have cited safety concerns, including the possibility of accidental explosions beneath densely populated areas, industrial sites and bodies of water. [NYT]

Of course, even though the pipeline would be built in anticipation of an increased natural gas supply, the order from the feds says that the pipeline has nothing to do with encouraging New York’s approval of hydrofracking (regulations are currently in draft form) within its borders.

“This project is driven by a desire to bring additional, reliable, competitively priced gas supplies to New Jersey and New York end users,” the order said. “It is not designed to serve as a gathering system for gas from the Marcellus Shale.”

“The development of the Marcellus and other shale reserves is expected to proceed over decades, and will do so with or without the proposed project,” it added. [NYT]

Ominous, especially given the errors that sloppy “development of the Marcellus and other shale reserves” has delivered in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio. As per the pipeline, construction is intended to begin in June. Still, the feds’ assurances surely won’t be enough to ease every fear. “If [an accident] happened in a densely populated area such as Jersey City, it’ll be nothing short of a full-blown catastrophe,” Jersey City mayor Jerramiah Healy told WCBS 880 last year. According to the New York Times, courtroom fights over the pipeline are to be expected.