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By letter dated March 31, 2016, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D) of the 14th District of the New Jersey General Assembly offered his support of the PennEast pipeline to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), his arguments being primarily to fill the need for job and energy creation. In response, environmental groups and local municipalities have urged Assemblyman DeAngelo to reconsider his interpretation of the facts and his support of the pipeline, which ultimately will not be passing through his district.

“As chairman of the New Jersey General Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee, I have direct oversight of energy issues pending before the State. As such many individuals, advocacy groups and business entities have shared their opinions with me regarding the PennEast Pipeline that would traverse much of central Jersey.

While the proposed line’s potential route is a matter of great concern for some impacted by it and should be a matter of examination for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the pipeline could deliver potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in energy savings for residents and business alike each year. For example, a recent study found that the PennEast Pipeline would have saved New Jerseyans $378 million in gas and electric energy costs during the 2014-2014 polar vortex. Our state needs to strive to provide savings for our resides as we maintain the diverse energy portfolio where approximately 95 percent of our power needs comes from natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy.

Furthermore, energy industry improvements can be an economic driver for our state. One economic impact study has found that approximately 12,160 jobs — 2,500 of which would be regional direct planning and construction jobs — could be created by the PennEast pipeline alone. The project would have an economic impact of potentially $1.62 million.

I respectfully urge a timely review and ruling of this important project…”

In response, Hopewell Township, which has been staunchly against the installation of the PennEast Pipeline, identified factual inaccuracies to Assemblyman DeAngelo’s statements and encourage Assemblyman DeAngelo to revisit his position.
“We strongly disagree with Assemblyman DeAngelo’s letter to FERC regarding the proposed PennEast pipeline,” said Hopewell Township mayor, Kevin Kuchinski, to MercerMe. “New Jersey’s natural gas needs are already fully met by existing pipeline infrastructure. Rather than saving our residents money, the proposed pipeline will result in higher costs over time, as its construction costs are passed along to ratepayers by the BPU through higher rates. Most of this ‘new’ gas will ultimately be shipped out-of-state and even out of the country, leaving NJ taxpayers footing the bill.”
With regard to job creation arguments, in late 2015, The Goodman Group, Ltd. (TGG), a consulting firm specializing in energy and regulatory economics and economic development that analyzed the Keystone XL pipeline, conducted a 71-page study, commissioned by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. TGG found that construction jobs created would be “very short- term in nature” and that “half or more” would go to workers residing outside New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Moreover, TGG concludes that ongoing economic benefits would be “infinitesimally small,” in the context of the New Jersey economy.
“These jobs will be temporary in nature and will largely be filled by out-of-state contractors with no long-term link to New Jersey,” continued Mayor Kuchinski. “Any short-term benefits will be out-weighed by the negative impacts to our preserved farmland and protected open spaces — PennEast is taking advantage of public investments in these lands for private gains.”
“We encourage Assemblyman DeAngelo to dig deeper and discover the true negative economic impacts of the PennEast pipeline rather than be taken in by PennEast’s faulty and incomplete PR statements,” said Patty Cronheim, outreach coordinator at ReThink Energy NJ. “The truth, as proven by a recent study by Skipping Stone, is that NJ has 49% more gas pipeline capacity than we need for even the harshest winters. PennEast would pocket the profits while the financial burden of the unneeded billion dollar PennEast pipeline and the risks of higher rates it will likely create would be borne by consumers. NJ does not need and cannot afford PennEast.”

From September 2015, see Bipartisan Opposition Stands United Against PennEast Pipeline, FERC and NJDEP Urged to Deny Proposal

Assemblyman DeAngelo’s position conflicts with six Legislators who represent people along the PennEast route and who oppose the project: Senator Kip Bateman and  Assembly members Jack Ciattarelli, Elizabeth Muoio, Reed Gusciora, and US Representatives Leonard Lance and Bonnie Watson-Coleman.

“Not only is he going against the opinion of six legislators from the proposed pipeline route, but he’s also going against the people of New Jersey,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The project has already been delayed multiple times due to lack of data and public opposition. In New Jersey, more than 70% of the people on the route have said NO to this pipeline and won’t let PennEast on their land to complete the surveys they need…. By supporting this dirty and dangerous pipeline, Assemblyman DeAngelo is turning his back on the people and environment of New Jersey.”

For more, see PennEast Pipeline Job Creation Claims Significantly Overstated, Study Finds

“The Assemblyman’s reasons for supporting the pipeline are unsubstantiated and untrue. The pipeline will not save consumers money or create jobs; instead it will create negative economic impacts. The pipeline cuts through scenic areas and farmlands impacting tourism and the arts. The tourism industry in the Delaware Valley is worth billions of dollars, impacting communities like Lambertville and Frenchtown. The pipeline runs through preserved farmland impacting soil and crops hurting farms financially. The agriculture and fishing industry will be impacted, both are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. For 98 jobs and false claims for ‘consumer savings’ we will ruin the Delaware Valley and all people love about it,” continued Tittel. “Assemblyman DeAngelo is a big supporter of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Renewable energy such as wind and solar creates more jobs than fossil fuel projects do. These high paying jobs come without the fracking and destruction of pipelines and natural gas.”

Monetary reasons have not been the only reasons for objectors: environment and public health have also been serious concerns. On July 23, 2016, after hearing hours of expert testimony and statements from concerned Hopewell Township residents, Hopewell Township passed a resolution that, as a result of its construction and operation, the pipeline would pose an “unreasonable and significant risk to the health and safety of the residents of Hopewell Township.” (See Pipeline Poses Risk to Health and Safety, Hopewell Township Passes Resolution).
For all MercerMe pipeline-related articles, check out this link.

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