Overlooking scenic Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain in Hopewell Township today, U.S. Rep. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12th Dist.), Senator Kip Bateman (R-Somerset) and Assemblywoman Liz Muoio (D-Mercer) were joined by local officials, citizens groups and conservation groups to urge the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency (“FERC”) and N.J. Department of Environmental Protection (“NJ DEP”) to deny PennEast’s application to construct a proposed 118-mile natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.
“We’re standing here today because despite the opposition from every New Jersey community all along its path and despite very serious questions about the impact to our environment and despite no clear indication of its necessity, PennEast has filed an application for a 110-mile pipeline. We join countless others in opposition and we urge FERC to deny that application,” said Congresswoman Watson Coleman. “Only 30% of the property along the path of this pipeline has actually been surveyed which means that the application that FERC has does not have a complete view of the land at stake… The actual construction of the pipeline can negatively impact habitat for native species that may never come back. We did not invest in New Jersey to have this happen to us. Our responsibility is to be a good steward to this planet and the things we do today impact future generations. My call to action is to let us FLOOD them with petitions from people who know this pipeline needs to be stopped.”
Senator Bateman reiterated his prior request to FERC. “We’re going to continue the fight because every community along this pipeline is adamantly against it,” said Senator Bateman. “We’re going to send a strong message to FERC and DEP.”
“Ironically, just as the rest of the world finally comes to accept that we are facing a point of no return and the fate of our environment rests on our ability to shift to renewable energy sources — here in New Jersey PennEast seeks to profit by laying miles of new fossil fuel pipeline, scarring acres of environmentally sensitive lands that have remained pristine only after decades of hard-fought and successful preservation. FERC must deny the application for this unwanted and unnecessary pipeline,” said Muoio.
“Over the past 20 years, New Jersey has taken bold actions to protect the integrity of our waterways and drinking water supplies. Water is in short supply in our state, and the current drought-like conditions demonstrate this. The PennEast pipeline would be constructed through 31 of the State’s most important waterways and wetlands causing irrevocable damage. NJDEP recognized the importance of these waterways when it designated them as category one waters. FERC and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection must recognize that designation and protect these critical waterways,” said Jim Waltman, Executive Director of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association.
“Increasing the state’s reliance on renewable energy, rather than building more fossil fuel pipelines, will reduce costs to residents and businesses, create thousands of good, sustainable jobs, and result in a cleaner environment,” said Michele Byers, executive director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
“This is about the future of this country and this planet. We are on the front lines in the battle between the fossil foolishness in the past and the clean energy future. The reason they are pushing these speculative pipelines, that they don’t need or can justify, is to make sure they can lock up billions of dollars in investments and keep people addicted to fossil fuels so we don’t move to the green energy future,” said Jeff Tittel, Executive Director of the NJ Sierra Club.
Residents and landowners have spent over a year commenting to FERC about inaccuracies and misrepresentations in PennEast’s reports, according to Patty Cronheim, Hopewell Township Citizens Against the PennEast pipeline. “It is up to FERC now to reject PennEast’s fiction and recognize that this pipeline isn’t needed and would cause irreparable damage and risk to our residents and communities,” said Cronheim.
“I call on FERC, NJDEP, PADEP, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other agencies involved to do a thorough job in evaluating this project’s questionable purpose and need, and to weigh that against the enormous environmental, social, historical, personal and financial impact it’s going to have on the people of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Do not allow PennEast to rush the regulatory process that is so vital in protecting the people and environment of our two states,” said Michael Spille, West Amwell Citizens Against the Pipeline.
The proposed pipeline would cut a swath through more than 4,000 acres of preserved open space and farmland, 31 of the state’s cleanest and most ecologically significant streams, and many private properties and communities. Experts have questioned the need for the PennEast pipeline in New Jersey, noting that it would result in a 53% surplus above the current consumption of natural gas.
Individuals are encouraged to participate in the opposition of the pipeline in a variety of ways including filing a motion to intervene and attending tomorrow’s rally at the Statehouse. Additionally, individuals should write to FERC, NJ DEP as well as legislators. For some tips, see Hopewell Township Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline website: http://htcapp.org.