PennEast Files Formal Application with FERC, Local Reactions and What to Do

Despite overwhelming opposition from landowners, local communities and elected leaders throughout the region, today PennEast filed their application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Conservation and citizen groups are calling on FERC and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection to deny PennEast’s application to build a proposed pipeline that would cut through Mercer and Hunterdon Counties, causing irreparable harm to over 4,000 acres of preserved open space and farmland, 31 of the state’s cleanest and most ecologically significant streams, and many landowners and communities.

The PennEast Pipeline has received record refusals to conduct property surveys for the project, with over 2/3 of property owners in New Jersey denying access for survey. Despite having higher access in Pennsylvania, the company’s July progress report represents that 60% of the project are available for survey activities, 25 towns and 3 counties have passed resolutions of opposition along with hundreds of opposition letters already submitted to the FERC express opposition, questions, and concerns about the project.

Environmentalists throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania have offered their words of opposition against the project and encouragement to the larger community to continue to band together to stand up against PennEast.

“We can never condone PennEast’s taking land away from families for their unneeded project,” said Patty Cronheim, founder of Hopewell Township Citizens Against the Pipeline.  PennEast has ignored this by pressing ahead with their application; despite the fact the landowners in New Jersey have denied survey access for the proposed pipeline on 70% of the proposed route.

“The proposed PennEast pipeline would undermine and destroy decades of dedicated work to preserve land in this special region of New Jersey,” said Michele Byers, Executive Director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “I am concerned not only about damage to these preserved lands, but also about what this means for the future of land preservation in our state.”

“The PennEast Pipeline is not wanted and it is not needed and if it were to be built it would inflict irreparable harm on the Delaware River Valley and Susquehanna River Valley communities it will cut through,” said Maya van Rossum the Delaware Riverkeeper. “There are numerous expert reports already on the record documenting the water and air pollution that will result, the loss of forest, damage to ecotourism, increased erosion and flooding impacts, and damage to local businesses PennEast would inflict.  And we have submitted proof that the fracked gas PennEast would carry is in fact not needed in our region and so the true goal of the PennEast companies is most likely export to foreign nations. We will do what we have to to stop the PennEast Pipeline.”

“The real battle to save the Delaware Valley from this damaging pipeline starts now. This pipeline will not only cut an ugly scar through environmentally sensitive lands in the Valley, but it’s a threat to our environment and our homes…We don’t believe that FERC can adequately evaluate this application since 67% of people have denied PennEast survey access to their lands,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This is the beginning of our new campaign to stop the pipeline.  We be will now be kicking our fight against PennEast into high gear — fighting permits at the state and federal agencies, bringing thousands of people out to the hearings, and going to court to fight this dangerous pipeline. We will fight to keep PennEast the FERC out of our Valley!”

“In its filing announcement of September 24th, PennEast continues to lie and misrepresent what this pipeline project is about. Citizens, organizations, scientists and government officials have proven over and over how this project will harm the environment, produce economic hardship, and fail to benefit NJ or PA residents and businesses. We continue to encourage the NJDEP to withhold permits due to lack of survey data and implore FERC to do its job and not rubber stamp this project for which there is no public need or convenience. The Sourland Conservancy and its members, as well as the numerous others opposed to this horrendous project will remain undaunted by PennEast’s filing – we will continue to work to protect our homes, businesses, land, air and water!”  Caroline Katmann, Executive Director, Sourland Conservancy.

“Over the past 20 years, New Jersey has taken bold actions to protect the integrity of our 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 (C1) waterways and wetlands causing irrevocable damage.  FERC and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection must protect these critical waterways,” said Jim Waltman, Executive Director of Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association.

At a recent public meeting at the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association,  residents were given advice on how they can participate when PennEast files an application FERC. For MercerMe’s article on that, please see When PennEast Files, Here’s What You Can Do.

As part of this process, the pipeline will need approvals from the FERC, the Delaware River Basin Commission, the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the US Army Corps of Engineers so there is still room for public input. The recommendation given, at the public meeting, was that individuals file formal opposition on the FERC website as well as encourage legislators to stand up against PennEast. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman, New Jersey State Senators Shirley Turner and Christopher ‘Kip’ Bateman and Assembly members Jack Ciatterelli, Donna Simon and Liz Muoio, John DiMaio and Erik Peterson have all gone on record noting grave concerns about the proposed pipeline.

“PennEast has a long way to go before it receives required approvals from FERC and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection,” said Byers regarding the today’s filing. “Thankfully, the NJ DEP is holding firm against pressure from PennEast. Pressure to build the pipeline, however is not going away and we are counting on our elected leaders and appointed public officials to represent the interests of their constituents and do everything in their power to stop this damaging project proposed by PennEast.”

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