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In our rundown spotlight today: at least 13 are dead in Barcelona after a driver ran his van into pedestrians; a researcher examines ways to resolve racial inequality; and a new study finds Latinos will fuel a quarter of America's economic growth in 2020.

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Cuomo Blocks Northern Access Pipeline

The Northern Access Pipeline route would have crossed the Cattaraugus Creek Basin Aquifer system. (Antepenultimate/Wikimedia Commons)
The Northern Access Pipeline route would have crossed the Cattaraugus Creek Basin Aquifer system. (Antepenultimate/Wikimedia Commons)
April 12, 2017

NEW YORK - Environmentalists are celebrating Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision to block construction of a 99-mile pipeline through western New York.

The 24-inch Northern Access Pipeline would carry natural gas from Pennsylvania to Canada. But late Friday, while all eyes were on the state budget process, the Department of Environmental Conservation quietly denied a critical water-quality permit, effectively preventing pipeline construction.

Alex Beauchamp, northeast region director for Food and Water Watch, said the project would have affected 192 streams and 600 acres of forest, and crossed the sole source of drinking water for 20,000 people.

"This is a real victory for the grassroots who fought this, day in and day out, particularly folks out in western New York who really never let up," he said, "and I think without that activism, this victory just doesn't happen."

National Fuel, the company that wants to build the pipeline, said it would create up to 1,200 jobs and provide reliable energy supplies to western New York, the Midwest and Canada. There is as yet no word on whether it will appeal the decision or move the pipeline route.

Beauchamp said building more natural-gas infrastructure just deepens reliance on energy sources that harm the environment.

"Ultimately, we've got to get off fossil fuels altogether," he said, "and this is a huge victory for anybody that wants to transition away from the fossil-fuel use that's really locked us into the kind of climate chaos we're living through."

Under the federal Clean Water Act, states have broad authority to grant or deny permits for pipeline construction.

Beauchamp noted that last year, Cuomo used denial of the same water-quality permit to stop construction of the Constitution Pipeline Project in eastern New York.

"Using this authority twice, I'm hopeful, also sets a precedent for the country," he said. "We really want to see other governors follow suit and stop these pipelines the way that the governor here has, at least in these two instances."

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY