The New York Islanders of the National Hockey League just made the playoffs for the first time in three years.  They summarily swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in round one, four games to none.

The Islanders’ playoff success thus far combined with the New York’s energy policies could result in two things coming true: the team could win the Stanley Cup hockey championship – and move out of New York State.

The more likely of these two scenarios is the Islanders will not win the Cup this year, but could well depart New York if the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, continues to deny the construction of natural gas pipelines. The proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement Project that would be built by Williams Transco would supply natural gas through an underwater pipeline from New Jersey to Long Island, including for a proposed new hockey arena for the Islanders.

The Cuomo administration has been impeding the ability to construct natural gas pipelines in the state for specious reasons, including “potentially significant environmental impacts” or for having an “incomplete” application.  The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has used its authority over water quality permits, water bodies and wetlands to deny gas pipeline applications that already have been approved at the federal level.

The real reason for this is the governor himself is acceding to the demands of the extreme environmentalist lobby such as the National Resources Defense Council and a plethora of locally organized groups to block the expansion of fossil fuels, which they view as “polluting,” even though natural gas burns much cleaner than heating oil.

Most recently, the New York State DEC denied the ability of Consolidated Edison, the major New York City regional utility, to expand natural gas pipelines that serve Westchester County, just north of New York City.  It followed that Con Ed announced back in January that it was halting expansion of natural gas to new customers, effective March 15th. Lots of politicians complained about how devastating this would be to residents and businesses in Westchester.

Large utility companies are easy targets, but the real culprit for New York’s growing energy woes is Governor Cuomo, who is doing the bidding of the extremists in the environmental movement. Their agenda is for 100 percent renewable energy, regardless of the impractical absurdity of such a goal, near or long-term.

Which brings us back to the New York Islanders. The team announced in late 2017 that its new home arena would be built next to Belmont Park racetrack on Long Island, just over the eastern border of Queens, New York City. The arena will be part of a sizable expansion planned for the area that will be reliant on expanded supplies of energy.

A state decision on whether the Williams pipeline for Long Island can proceed is due by the Cuomo DEC by May 15th. The stakes are enormous. The decision could come as early as this Monday, “Earth Day,” when the governor could nix the pipeline project in order encourage renewable energy.

If the state refuses to approve the Williams pipeline, it’s possible the Belmont Park expansion, including the new hockey arena, may not proceed. The Cuomo administration denies there is a connection between the pipeline and the Belmont development, and recently assured that it’s “exploring all clean energy and renewable options” for the project. Feel better?

Absent the Williams pipeline, the uncertain fate of the New York Islanders proposed location is not farfetched. Whether the hockey team is affected or not, new development needs concomitant energy supplies, and there will be certain economic fallout from the denial of new natural gas supplies. Perhaps the Islanders could remain in their inadequate facilities or another state governor could lure the team to relocate by using economic incentives, including cheap, plentiful energy.

Economic growth, with more and better paying jobs, cannot occur without reasonable, affordable sources of energy. The natural gas boom in the United States, which has resulted from the technological marvel of hydro fracturing, has been integral to the nation’s overall economic expansion for the last decade. The U.S. is now the world’s largest energy producer, and has become an energy exporter.

Until recently, Governor Cuomo’s anti-energy development policies, including continuation of the ban on hydro fracturing, have had little impact on the state’s economy beyond the upstate region where the Marcellus and Utica shale deposits are located. Since most other states allow fracking, including neighboring Pennsylvania, New York has had the benefit of importing natural gas to meet much of its energy needs.

The governor’s renewable energy fantasies and intransigence on natural gas are now starting to bite more downstate middle class suburban areas in Westchester County and possibly soon on Long Island.

Does Governor Cuomo want the Islanders to leave New York? As a Buffalo Sabres fan, it’s of no consequence to me. But if he denies the construction of the Williams pipeline, the affect on the Islanders would be a microcosm of the negative economic ripple effect to the residents and business in this heavily populated area of the state.


  • Craig Rucker

    Craig Rucker is a co-founder of CFACT and currently serves as its president.