Series Issue 3: Sea level rise and extreme weather events are linked to increases in greenhouse gases. Read below about associated costs to health & property.
We have been experiencing a rapid escalation of climate extremes like rains of historic proportions, floods, wildfires and droughts; and these are attributed, in part, to our overuse and dependence on fossil fuels. Major flooding is also a result of replacing mature forests that would have absorbed the rain with paved surfaces which resulted in an increased rate of fast-moving and destructive water flow into our streams and rivers.
Extreme weather events result in costly damage to property, businesses, infrastructure and the environment that also trigger stress and depression. Additionally, there are associated costly health risks like water borne infections as well as increases in dampness and mold that trigger more allergies and respiratory disorders. Milder, shorter winters have increased the population of disease-carrying insects in our area. Longer and wetter seasons lead to more asthma, allergies and respiratory disorders. Flooding events are a pathway for pollution and bacteria to enter our waterways.
Medical and scientific authorities have termed climate change “potentially catastrophic for human survival.” “The effects of climate change are being felt today, and future projections represent an unacceptably high and potentially catastrophic risk to human health,” according to the Lancet Commission report. The Lancet report – Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health – is at http://www.thelancet.com/commissions/climate-change-2015
Production, processing, transportation and use of fossil fuels for energy have an impact on increased health costs due to air pollution as well as changes in the weather. Fossil fuel pollution (microparticulates, ozone, etc.) is a significant contributor to increased health care costs.
While studies show carbon dioxide emissions have decreased over the past few years in the United States, greenhouse gas emissions have increased. This is likely due to the increased drilling, processing, transporting and use of natural gas.
Natural gas pipelines and compressor stations leak, and natural gas is primarily methane. Though half of emitted or leaked methane vanishes in 8.3 years, it is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a 20-year basis. The EPA uses a broader time frame and says methane’s global warming effect is 28 to 36 times that of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. The amount of leakage as well as the direction of the spread of emissions, including leaks, in the air is not monitored in a way that leads to actions to reduce the risks.
Natural gas may not be the "transition" fuel that some think it is. It emits half the amount of carbon as coal, but if as little as 3.5 percent of its methane is released or leaked, it pollutes worse than coal. Also - data on methane release are scarce.
Methane Emissions from Fossil Fuel Operations is 60% higher than reported estimates.
- A new study, published on June 21, 2018 in the journal Science, puts the rate of methane emissions from domestic oil and gas operations at 2.3 percent of total production per year, which is 60 percent higher than the current estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency. That might seem like a small fraction of the total, but it represents an estimated 13 million metric tons lost each year, or enough natural gas to fuel 10 million homes. It would be worth an estimated $2 billion. This much leaked methane would have roughly the same climate impact in the short-term as emissions from all U.S. coal-fired power plants, the authors found.
The cost of weather/climate-related disasters is mostly borne by taxpayers and people who are directly impacted but not involved in decision-making policies about the production and transportation of carbon-intensive goods.
- According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), economic costs in the U.S. from the 16 weather/climate-related disasters in 2017 were $309.5 billion. This exceeded the previous record by over $100 billion - For 2005, from Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita & William, CPI-adjusted costs to present dollars were $219.2 billion. The number of weather/climate-related disasters in the U.S. in 2017 tied the number from 2011, but the actual isolated events in 2017 were arguably more because wildfires were counted as regional-scale, seasonal events and not as multiple isolated events. Source: www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions
The gas from the NESE Project is slated for New York, but the following issues should be considered:
- There is no proof that converting from dirty oils to natural gas provides climate benefits, since even small amounts of methane leakage (which exists in all natural gas pipelines) erodes the benefits of switching to natural gas. Source: PSE Healthy Energy. (2018 February 28). The Greenhouse Gas Impacts of Proposed Pipeline Buildout in New York. Accessed at:
- If the Williams/Transco NESE pipeline were built along with the state’s other proposed natural gas pipelines, the only way to achieve New York's 2030 emission reduction target would be to cut oil use in the range of 70-100%, which is impossible. Source: PSE Healthy Energy. (2018 February 28). The Greenhouse Gas Impacts of Proposed Pipeline Buildout in New York. Accessed at:
- The pipeline would deliver gas only to National Grid, which supplies gas to only a fraction of the NYC boilers that need to convert from dirty oil. Therefore, even if Williams/Transco’s NESE did help in the conversion of heating systems, its contribution would be minimal. Source: ICF International. (2011). Assessment of New York City Natural Gas Market Fundamentals and Life Cycle Fuel Emissions. 34. Accessed at:
New Jersey has committed to carbon-free energy but, if built, the NESE natural gas project will contribute more carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere for decades. Stopping the NESE project would be a significant step toward gaining control of global warming. We hope that our Governor and the NJDEP take the lead and say "no" to more fossil fuel-based pollution in NJ now.
Your family and friends depend on your action. Though there is no single solution for flooding and pollution challenges, now is NOT the time to continue approving fossil fuel projects like the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project. We must continue to support strong actions, public policies and smart growth that will reduce the risks of flooding and pollution to keep our local air and water clean.
What can you do?
Tell the NJDEP that you want them to (1) hold public hearings (“fact-finding meetings”) and (2) deny the new water permit applications for the NESE Project.
- Sign the online petition letter to NJDEP provided by Food & Water Watch by going to:
- See the attached letter, add your personal information at the end, and send it, along with any written comments, to the NJDEP people listed below. You can either email it by August 3 or mail the completed letter by August 1.
Send emails of letters to:
Mail letters to:
Catherine R. McCabe, Commissioner & Ruth W. Foster, PhD., P.G., Acting Director (addresses are on the letter) and send to: Bureau of Urban Growth & Redevelopment - Division of Land Use Regulation - 501 East State Street, 2nd Floor, PO Box 420 - Mail Code 501-02A, Trenton, NJ 08625-0420 Attn.: Matthew Resnick & Christopher Jones
- Tell your State Representatives to support Joe Danielsen’s Resolution AR164, and encourage your State Senators to do a companion resolution opposing the NESE Project. See attachment.
- Tell your local, state and federal officials about your concerns with the NESE Project and ask them to act to protect you.
- Write comments to FERC about your concerns.
- Go to www.scrap-NESE.org for information about the NESE Project, sample comments, the letter to NJDEP, and actions to take.