U.S. Rep. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12), Senator Shirley Turner (D-15), Senator Kip Bateman (R-16) and Assemblywoman Liz Muoio (D-15) today joined with local officials, citizens groups and conservation groups to urge the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency and N.J. Department of Environmental Protection to deny PennEast’s application to construct a proposed 118-mile natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.
“This pipeline is a threat to environmentally sensitive land, water resources, habitat for endangered species, and the property of many New Jersey families. Despite all these risks, the application Penn East submitted last week surveyed just 26 percent of the proposed pipeline’s path. There are more than enough existing and approved pipelines cutting through our communities. With no clear benefit to New Jersey families, I urge FERC not to add another one,” said Watson Coleman.
Bateman reiterated his prior request to FERC to “stop the development of the PennEast Pipeline. “The taxpayers of New Jersey, Hunterdon County, and Delaware Township, as well as foundations, individual donors, and farmers/landowners, have invested approximately $7.4 million to permanently preserve properties along the pipeline’s proposed route. To the very best of our knowledge, no pipeline has ever been developed in a more bucolic, previously preserved and historically significant and designated area.”
Turner is the prime sponsor of SR99, which expresses the New Jersey Senate’s opposition to the PennEast Pipeline project in New Jersey.
“Our taxpayers have spent billions of dollars to preserve open space, collect green assets, as well as to protect land and restore streams to reduce the threat to our water supplies,” the senator said. “Over 65 percent of New Jersey voters last year approved a referendum to direct more tax dollars toward open space, farmland, and historic preservation. FERC should not permit a consortium of companies, some even from outside New Jersey to confiscate our green spaces for profit when our taxpayers have already invested billions to preserve them.
“I hope that Pope Francis’s message about the sacredness of the environment resonated during his visit to the United States. FERC must consider the rights of our residents, but also the rights of the environment. The destruction of New Jersey’s natural and historic heritage is an issue of paramount concern and something that government at all levels has allowed to occur for far too long. When looking back on American history critically, not enough care was taken to protect the environment from destruction to meet industry demands. We must learn from the past and evaluate energy infrastructure in a way that respects ecosystems, natural heritage, and historical landmarks that once lost can never be made whole again. We should be looking toward meeting future energy demands with future energy resources, not defaulting to what is plentiful and cheap today.”
Muoio also issued a statement of opposition.
“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 the freshman assemblywoman.
“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 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.
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.