Public Resource

Lessons from NYC’s Williams Pipeline battle

Patrick Houston and Pete Sikora, The Forge
07-15-2020

The Stop the Williams Pipeline coalition won by building, organizing, and activating a large and intense base of opposition targeted at the key decision-maker (Andrew Cuomo). Key strategic and tactical decisions included:

  • Building a multi-racial coalition that operated across state lines (New York and New Jersey) and at multiple geographic levels (neighborhood, city, and state)
  • Creating opportunities to both educate and recruit activists (including teach-ins and door-to-door canvassing) with a focus on the most impacted communities -- in this case, the Rockaways, where the pipeline would have connected to an existing gas system.
  • Committing to the hard work of organizing: large amounts of staff and volunteer time and energy, coordinating strategy in weekly calls and one-on-one meetings, turning out members to protests and events, and using power and relationships to pressure local elected officials to take a stand
  • Escalating their pressure on Governor Cuomo through a series of ever-larger events -- picketing the Governor's public appearances at least 40 times between 2018 and 2020, organizing a 600-person town hall and 700-person march over Brooklyn Bridge, and generating thousands of phone calls to the Governor's office

From coalition leaderships: "There was no one tactic that won the day. Ultimately, the coalition’s deep, strong, multi-racial base, our relentless focus on pressuring Cuomo, and our willingness to electoralize the battle proved unbeatable. It’s also worth noting that, unlike in many pipeline fights, litigation played no meaningful role: we won the key permit fight outright."