Courtesy of Stop the Williams Pipeline Coalition
President Trump's executive order to make it easier for companies to transport natural gas set off alarms in Rockaway where residents fear a new pipeline proposal.

The fight against a natural gas pipeline proposal intensified in Rockaway after President Trump signed an executive order to expedite pipeline permitting and block states’ decision-making power on such projects, including the Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement fracked gas pipeline.

Trump wants to make it easier for companies to transport Marcellus Shale gas from Pennsylvania to Northeast markets, such as the Williams Pipeline, and it comes a week before protesters are set to rally at City Hall Park and march across the Brooklyn Bridge on Thursday, April 18, demanding Governor Andrew Cuomo stands up for New Yorkers and stop the pipeline project ahead of Earth Day.

The 23-mile pipeline would start in New Jersey, cross New York Harbor and transit Rockaway to an existing pipeline less than four miles off Rockaway Beach. Opponents say the project would stir up toxins in the sea floor, threatening the health of the coastline as well as New York Harbor as well as threaten marine life. They also maintain the pipeline isn’t needed due to the rise of renewables and improvements in energy efficiency.

“Trump’s latest executive order attempts to trample states’ legal right to prevent toxic projects like the proposed Williams NESE Pipeline from turning protected waters into corporate dumping grounds,” Stop the Williams Pipeline Coalition said in a statement. “New Yorkers are proud to have intervened to stop these unneeded assaults on our health and communities in the past. With the Williams Pipeline, Governor Cuomo has a chance to do that again. He can either stand up to Trump by denying the permits while proving he is truly committed to a Green New Deal, or he can give in and let this unspeakable reckless administration have its way. The choice is his.”

While more than 60 elected officials stand in opposition including state Senator Joseph Addabbo, City Councilmen Donovan Richards and Costa Constantinides, and more than 16,000 residents have signed petitions against the pipeline, Cuomo and the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation have not moved to stop the pipeline. Cuomo did react to Trump’s executive order calling it a “gross overreach of federal authority that undermines New York’s ability to protect our water quality and our environment” and saying that any effort to curb New York’s right to protect resident will be fought tooth and nail.

“Especially at a time when the federal government has abdicated its responsibility to protect our environment and public health, states like New York are on the front lines protecting our clean water and the public health,” Cuomo said. “While the Trump administration continues its hostile assault on our environment, we are proud to be leading the way forward to build the clean energy economy of tomorrow in New York.”

Meanwhile, 14 state Senators including James Sanders, Toby Ann Stavisky and Jessica Ramos signed on to a statement that warned of the short term risks of spills, explosions and water contamination, and in the long term by locking New Yorkers into a fossil fuel energy system that drives catastrophic climate change.

“It seems that not a day goes by when President Trump isn’t spitting into the wind to try to stop the ongoing transition to a carbons-free future,” they said. “This latest executive order is more of the same, rewarding his fossil fuel cronies by removing the protections that keep Americans safe.”

The April 18 rally against the Williams Pipeline project will assemble at City Hall at 5:30 p.m., rally at 6:00 and march across the Brooklyn Bridge beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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