“Banning fracking is a great step in the right direction,” said Robert Howarth, an ecology and environmental biology professor at Cornell University. “Allowing a build-out of gas infrastructure — I think that would just be a very sad addition to that, undercutting the governor’s legacy for sure.”
But Williams and National Grid have considerable political influence, too. Williams hired a lobbying firm, Kivvit, that is led by Mr. Cuomo’s former campaign manager. It also donated $100,000 last year to the Democratic Governors Association, which later gave $20,000 in in-kind contributions to Mr. Cuomo’s campaign.
Mr. Cuomo, who has also made infrastructure a cornerstone of his tenure, has demurred when asked to stop taking money from fossil fuel companies.
Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Mr. Cuomo, said in a statement that the governor had advanced “the most aggressive environmental agenda in the nation.” He denied any connection between Williams’s political ties and the pending pipeline application, saying the decision would be made by “career public servants” after “a rigorous review of the facts.”
The project has also won the support of the business and labor communities. Vincent Albanese, the director of policy and public affairs for the New York State Laborers, which represents over 40,000 members in the construction industry, said that a moratorium on new gas hookups would jeopardize jobs.
The union has spent more than $600,000 on Facebook ads in the past year promoting the pipeline, according to Facebook’s database.
Kathryn Wylde, the president of the Partnership for New York City, an influential business group, said investors needed to feel confident in the city’s energy supply.