Held Hostage - JuniperCivic.com
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Originally published in the December 2019 Juniper Berry Magazine

Held Hostage

Imagine you are building a new home, constructing a new business or restoring your home subsequent to a catastrophic loss like a hurricane. As the project is nearing completion your application for natural gas service is denied, and preventing your ability to beneficially occupy the capital resource you have invested in. How could this even be possible? How could you be denied the service that so many of your neighbors rely on? Shamefully, that is exactly what is happening in Queens, specifically in neighborhoods like Middle Village, in large part due to our Governor and State politicians' unfaltering opposition to much-needed energy infrastructure upgrades and advocacy for fossil fuel divestment.

This year, regulators denied construction permits for the Williams Pipeline expansion, known as the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE). Shortly thereafter, utility provider National Grid declared a moratorium on new natural gas hookups in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, citing the critical need for the Williams Pipeline to accommodate growing demand as its current infrastructure has reached capacity.

The Governor of New York State launched an investigation into National Grid's perceived inability to provide natural gas service. Ironically, the attention now given to this issue by the Governor's office affirms natural gas' vital role in New York communities and the necessity for exactly such a pipeline.

While State bureaucrats are busy playing politics, proponents of investment in the future viability of Middle Village, such as Robert Matos, are denied the livelihood that the culmination of their investment capital represents simply because they cannot turn on the gas. Mr. Matos is not alone, many constituents in Howard Beach who rebuilt their homes after Hurricane Sandy damage are being denied New Hookups within Senator Addabbo's district. This economic disaster leaves New York's small-business and homeowners with nowhere to go.

Robert even considered switching to electric so the business could open in a timelier manner, however the costs at this point would be disproportionate to the needs of the business.

Robert Matos had been tirelessly attempting to open his new 40 + person Mexican Grill in Middle Village for several months with delays caused by this senseless politicking.

Robert is a lifelong Queens resident who grew up in Ridgewood, attended Christ the King, currently resides in Middle Village with his family including three children who all attended St. Margaret's and Archbishop Molloy.

He is a Real Estate Appraiser by trade who is looking to add to the community with his establishment. He expected to have the restaurant opening in October however there was no way to complete the interior construction without natural gas being installed and inspected according to code. This resulted in the business owner paying the lease and opening costs with no source of income from the business. The restaurant's business plan was to be open seven days a week and serve beer and sangria for the adults while providing wholesome food for everyone, with local delivery available as well.

With record production of domestic natural gas and safe pipeline technology in the 21st century, it is alarming that New Yorkers are being denied access to reliable natural gas. Natural gas is responsible for more than a third of our nation's electricity needs; about half of US homes rely on it for heating, cooking and drying clothes. The widespread implementation of modern natural gas-fired electricity generation units have played a key role in lowering carbon emissions as well.

Rather than acknowledge its importance as one of the cornerstones of American energy, many environmental activists and elected officials have ramped up their opposition to natural gas. Recently Senator Addabbo was quoted as saying, we should not be held hostage for a pipeline which will be obsolete in ten years, inferring that renewable energy such as solar and wind power would somehow eliminate the need for natural gas. Effectively diverting our focus from the real problem here that there is a real threat of a natural gas shortage our elected officials are looking to ignore for more profitable form of energy while digging into their constituents pockets.

Although there has been an increase in the amount of solar energy produced within his district, even if it were to increase exponentially over the next ten years, the Con-Ed infrastructure could not support the extra capacity and all of his constituents would have to rewire their entire house to support such a significant load increase in addition to replacing all gas fired equipment including home heating with electric.

New York State's ban on hydraulic fracturing and pipeline development is responsible for our residents missing out on access to reliable, affordable natural gas, potentially thousands of well-paying jobs and new commercial development opportunities.

Before launching an all-out onslaught on natural gas, it would be wise for the State elected officials to prudently consider what New York State without gas would look like. It's easy to boast the environmental benefits of renewable energy and grant promises of an entirely green grid when you do not have any real plan for the utmost challenge of making it happen.

Although Addabbo's office is working to force National Grid to turn the Gas on for these customers both residential and commercial, which is appreciated by his constituents, it is time for Cuomo and Addabbo to stop pandering to lobbyists and start guaranteeing that their constituents have clean, affordable energy they need. At the time of print for the article the restaurant at long last received a new hookup after much pressure from Senator Addabbo's office as well as a news story on Channel 4. Burrito Blvd Mexican Grill's grand opening was December 2nd. Please welcome Rob, his family and staff into the neighborhood as a new business.

December 2019 Juniper Berry Magazine

December 2019 Table of Contents