Two conservation groups today rebuked, in a legal filing, PennEast’s latest attempt to quash a hearing that would reveal critical information about its proposed pipeline. The groups reiterated their call for FERC to hold an evidentiary hearing to assess whether there is true public need for the proposed PennEast pipeline.
The latest filing by the Eastern Environmental Law Clinic (EELC) on behalf of New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Stony Brook- Millstone Watershed Association (SBMWA) was in response to PennEast’s answer to the groups’ June request for FERC to hold a full evidentiary hearing.
“Why is PennEast resisting efforts to prove whether there is a true need for their proposed pipeline?” asked Tom Gilbert, campaign director at the NJ Conservation Foundation (NJCF). “Given the risks from this pipeline to our land, water, health and safety, and the need to use eminent domain on a massive scale, there should be unequivocal proof that the project is needed.”
“Ratepayers will be paying for this excess capacity for years,” said Jennifer Danis, senior staff attorney at EELC. “It makes it even more clear that an evidentiary hearing is necessary to flesh out the record in this case.”
PennEast is 70 percent owned by affiliates of PSEG, New Jersey Natural Gas, South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas.
The motion and complaint filed by EELC last month stated that PennEast’s pipeline is not in the public interest, as it will harm competition in the New Jersey energy market and ultimately raises costs for New Jersey ratepayers. This most recent filing on behalf of NJCF and SBMWA continues to bring to FERC’s attention the fact that PennEast ignores these well-documented assertions and it reiterates the call for an evidentiary hearing in order to resolve these issues.
There is overwhelming opposition to this pipeline with every New Jersey town in the pipeline’s path standing against PennEast and more than 10,000 individuals having sent in comments and protests against the pipeline.
Legislators from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, from both parties, have called for an evidentiary hearing to examine these issues and the potential harm to the region’s economy, including Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA), New Jersey State Senators Jim Whelan and Shirley Turner, and New Jersey Assembly Members Andrew Zwicker, Reed Gusciora and Elizabeth Maher Muoio.
“Instead of addressing these concerns, PennEast further erodes its credibility by asking FERC to simply ignore the evidence,” said Mike Pisauro, director of policy for SBMWA. “PennEast in essence demands that FERC just trust it and grant it its approval. There are far too many unanswered questions about the proposed pipeline to allow it to proceed.”