Concerns Expressed in Letter to NJDEP Commissioner
KINGWOOD TOWNSHIP (June 19, 2017) — A bipartisan group of 31 elected officials from 15 municipalities and the Mercer County and Hunterdon County Freeholder boards today sent a joint letter to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) saying they oppose the proposed PennEast gas pipeline because of the threats it poses to health, safety, property rights, and natural and historic resources.
In their letter to NJDEP Commissioner Robert Martin, the 31 officeholders said, “these impacts are unacceptable, especially given that PennEast has failed to demonstrate legitimate public need for the project.”
They called upon NJDEP to reject PennEast’s recent illegal and incomplete application for a Freshwater Wetlands Permit and Water Quality Certificate. NJDEP deemed PennEast’s application incomplete and said they would reject and close the application in 60 days (on June 26) if PennEast does not cure the deficiencies, including missing surveys and analyses.
Richard Dodds, Deputy Mayor (R), Kingwood Township, said, “We’re counting on NJDEP to carefully assess the widespread environmental and safety threats of this pipeline that FERC and PennEast continue to ignore. NJDEP must enforce the legal and environmental standards that apply to such a large pipeline project, because this project represents a grave threat to our water and communities.”
John E. Lanza (R), Director of the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Hunterdon, said, “This pipeline would damage thousands of acres of preserved open space and farmland in which every New Jersey taxpayer has invested.”
“The pipeline threatens to contaminate drinking water sources, including public and private wells, more than 40 streams, and the Delaware River, with unsafe levels of arsenic, which is a known carcinogenic toxin,” said Hopewell Township Mayor Kevin Kuchinski (D).
Noting that the state Division of Rate Counsel has affirmed there is no public need for the pipeline, Sam Thompson, Deputy Mayor (D), Delaware Township, added, “This project is being built for the profits of the utility companies that would own it, not New Jersey utility customers — who would pay higher bills if the pipeline is built.”
The letter to Martin listed the following additional reasons for opposing the pipeline:
- PennEast would not meet New Jersey’s pipeline safety standards — which are stronger than the federal government’s — placing residents and businesses at risk of a deadly explosion.
- The proposed pipeline would take property from its owners through eminent domain, with no public benefit.
The following officeholders signed the letter:
John E. Lanza, Director of the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Hunterdon
John King, Deputy Director of the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Hunterdon
Mathew Holt, Hunterdon County Freeholder
Susanne Lagay, Hunterdon County Freeholder
Pasquale (Pat) Colavita Jr., Mercer County Freeholder
Mayor Paul Abraham, Alexandria Township, NJ
Mayor Dan Bush, Holland Township, NJ
Mayor John Dale, West Amwell Township, NJ
Mayor Charles Herman, Delaware Township, NJ
Mayor Chris Killmurray, South Brunswick Township, NJ
Mayor Janice Kovach, Town of Clinton, NJ
Mayor Phil Kramer, Franklin Township, NJ
Mayor Kevin Kuchinski, Hopewell Township, NJ
Mayor Liz Lempert, Princeton Township, NJ
Mayor Jeremy I. Liedka, Chesterfield Township, NJ
Mayor Phil Lubitz, Kingwood Township, NJ
Mayor Brad Myhre, Borough of Frenchtown, NJ
Mayor Charles Van Horne, East Amwell Township, NJ
Deputy Mayor Julie Blake, Hopewell Township, NJ
Deputy Mayor Steve Bergenfield, West Amwell, NJ
Deputy Mayor Richard Dodd, Kingwood Township, NJ
Deputy Mayor Dart Sageser, East Amwell Township, NJ
Deputy Mayor Sam Thompson, Delaware Township, NJ
James Cally, Committee Member, West Amwell Township, NJ
Alan Johnson, Committee Member, Delaware Township, NJ
Jill Popko, Committee Member, Bordentown Township, NJ
Len Resto, Councilman, Borough of Chatham, NJ
Zach Rich, Committee Member, West Amwell Township, NJ
Rita Romeau, Committee Member, Chesterfield Township, NJ
Vanessa Sandom, Committee Member, Hopewell Township, NJ
Joe Vocke, Committee Member, Delaware Township, NJ
All of the municipalities along the proposed pipeline route, as well as Hunterdon and Mercer Counties, previously passed resolutions in opposition to the project, and the majority of landowners along the 38-mile route in New Jersey are opposed.
Numerous federal and state agencies have repeatedly expressed their concerns after finding PennEast’s applications, engineering, and environmental impact statements to be misleading, inadequate, and incomplete.
The officeholders’ letter expressed appreciation to NJDEP for the department’s April 26 decision that an application PennEast submitted earlier that month was incomplete. NJDEP said it will not consider an application without all of the required surveys, data, and analyses.
NJDEP’s response to PennEast, along with a subsequent letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, affirmed that PennEast’s application is deficient in many ways.
“If NJDEP does not receive all the required information by June 26, it must reject and administratively close the application,” the electeds’ letter said today.
“We commend NJDEP’s commitment to ensuring that PennEast receives the full and thorough review required under the exacting standards of the Clean Water Act and state regulations,” the officials said in their letter submitted today. “We do not believe that PennEast can be constructed in a manner that would comply with these standards.”
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