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Legislative Memo

Darren Suarez
Director of Government Affairs
T 518.465.7511, ext. 206
www.bcnys.org

BILL:

S.5139 (Amedore) / A.2446-a (Skartados)

Support

SUBJECT:

New York State Town Overview of Pipelines

 

DATE:

May 22, 2017

 

The Business Council of New York State opposes this legislation which would give local control to towns over permitting the construction of a pipeline.  This legislation is without merit, and will become an additional barrier to the expansion of needed energy infrastructure.  The proposed legislation runs counter to the interest of the New York’s businesses that need access to clean affordable natural gas.

New York has a long history of natural gas production, transportation, and regulations.  The first commercial natural gas well in the United States was dug in 1821 in Fredonia, NY.  In the mid-1800s natural gas was predominantly delivered locally and generally within the same municipality in which it was produced.

Transportation Corporations Law §87 was adopted in 1909 to assist in the regulation of the early development of natural gas utilities.  This section was adopted as a means to increase oversight by densely populated municipalities when the public utility regulatory structure was very new.  Since the adoption of this section, pipelines and the rules and regulations regarding pipelines have changed substantially.  Pipelines are now regulated by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Department of Transportation (DOT), Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) / Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), U.S. Coast Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); and on a state level the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), New York Public Service Commission (PSC) and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and State and Local Fire Departments.

In addition, cities and villages are different than towns because of density, existing infrastructure and a lack of undeveloped space.  In contrast most towns include large sections of unimproved land.  The addition of towns, therefore, is inconsistent with the purpose of the existing law.

Furthermore this legislation if enacted will encourage costly litigation, will increase the permitting uncertainty, and is not motivated by sound energy policy. 

The Business Council in conclusion does not support the adoption of new barriers to the development of needed natural gas infrastructure.  There is ample evidence that current opposition to the expansion of infrastructure has cost consumers and the State significantly.  A recent report by the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy determined that the cumulative impact by 2020 of rejecting pipeline expansion will be 17,400 jobs $1.6 billion in GDP, and $971 Million in labor income.