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NY business council faults state for inaction on natural gas infrastructure


Don McDufee, left, and Kurt Mohney protest the construction of a natural gas transfer station in the Town of Fenton before a community meeting by project sponsors, NG Advantage
(Photo: Jeff Platsky/Staff photo)

The state's largest business lobby called on the state to expand its natural gas infrastructure to enhance economic development.

Heather Briccetti, The Business Council of New York chief executive, said the state's reluctance to approve natural gas pipelines and other fossil fuel projects serves only to stunt economic growth.

"Expanding access to affordable energy cuts to the heart of all three challenges and has the potential for a multiplier effect — strengthening the state's economy, reducing electric bills and serving as a catalyst for sustained job growth," Briccetti wrote in an op-ed piece in the Times Union of Albany.

Her stance puts her squarely in opposition of environmentalists in the state who encourage the development of sustainable power sources such as wind and solar while saying Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration is correct in putting up obstacles to the development of fossil fuel infrastructure.

NG Advantage, which is running into stiff opposition in its attempt to build a natural gas compressor/transfer station in the Town of Fenton, is using Briccetti's public comments in an attempt to bolster support for its cause.

That development is now tied up in court as a State Supreme Court judge decides if the review performed by the Town of Fenton adhered to the strict process outlined by state law. Those in opposition of the project contend the process was flawed. Parties are awaiting a decision in the matter.

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The business council has also faulted the state for prohibiting natural gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing and its rejection of the Constitution Pipeline, which would have brought supplies of natural gas to portions of the state not served with a ready supply.

"Despite the tremendous growth in demand for natural gas, New York hasn't added enough natural gas pipeline capacity," Briccetti wrote. "The increased use of natural gas by households, businesses and electric generators has strained current natural gas infrastructure, resulting in occasional curtailments of supply."

Raymond Corp., the largest employer in Chenango County, and Amphenol, among the largest employers in Delaware County, have long expressed their desire for natural gas supplies to their plants, saying the supply of a less expensive fuel supply would encourage expansion. The Constitution Pipeline would have provided service to both facilities.

The proposed pipeline would have transported Marcellus Shale gas from Pennsylvania through Broome, Chenango, Otsego and Schoharie counties and into Schenectady.