ReThink Energy NJ today applauded a joint letter sent from U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), urging the agency to address the many well-documented deficiencies within its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed PennEast pipeline. The senators stated their concerns that the environmental impacts of the proposed pipeline are not yet fully understood. FERC is scheduled to release the Final EIS on April 7.
“Senators Booker and Menendez have rightly pointed out that FERC has yet to fully address a host of critical concerns raised by public agencies and independent scientists regarding the risks that PennEast poses to our health, safety and environment,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director of ReThink Energy NJ and New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “The question is whether FERC will pay attention, or will they move ahead with a flawed EIS that fails to evaluate potential contamination of our drinking water, increases in harmful emissions, damage to threatened and endangered species, and other significant environmental impacts.”
In their letter, Booker and Menendez highlight that “residents, municipalities and public entities have raised a number of significant concerns with [PennEast’s] Draft EIS.” They point to the many environmental dangers PennEast brings, including threats to drinking water, public health, and endangered species.
The senators remind FERC of the “significant” concerns previously raised in recent months by the EPA, Fish & Wildlife Service, and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) regarding the impact PennEast would have on public health and the environment. The issues range from impacts to endangered species such as the federally threatened bog turtle, to identifying PennEast’s lack of plans for preventing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from leaking out of its pipe.
In particular, Booker and Menendez express “serious concern” that PennEast could create harmful levels of arsenic in drinking water. Arsenic is a highly toxic, cancer-causing compound (Source: World Health Organization). Geologists at Princeton University and the U.S. Geologic Survey have warned of the public health impacts that PennEast could trigger by releasing arsenic into wells and streams that feed into the Delaware River.
“We thank the senators for standing up to protect New Jersey’s drinking water,” said Jim Waltman, executive director, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. “The very serious concern that this pipeline could release poisonous arsenic into our groundwater has received only lip service from FERC and PennEast. We applaud the senators for elevating this critical issue. For New Jersey, the pipe stops here.”
The New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, the state utility consumer watchdog, found no evidence of need for PennEast and said it would be “unfair to consumers” who would pay for it. On the other hand, multiple independent scientists and federal and state agencies have warned that this project would cause significant environmental damage.
About ReThink Energy NJ: ReThink Energy NJ aims to inform and empower New Jersey citizens about the need for reduced use of fossil fuels and pipelines that threaten our preserved lands, water, environment, public health and communities; our goal is a swift transition to efficient, clean and renewable energy. ReThink Energy NJ is supported by New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association and Pinelands Preservation Alliance. For more information, visit rethinkenergynj.org and find Rethink Energy NJ on Facebook and Twitter @rethinkenergynj.