Chesterfield, NJ (March 30, 2017) – ReThink Energy NJ today strongly criticized Williams Transco’s start of construction on the Garden State Expansion (GSE) compressor station, despite onsite evidence of protected nesting birds. Both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) had documentation of breeding and nesting birds at the site, as well as reports showing unmapped wetlands that the company neglected to identify. Neither agency took the necessary steps to independently verify these environmental harms. This governmental inaction by NJDEP and FWS is an abject failure of each agency to protect natural resources.
“We are extremely disappointed in the failure by NJDEP and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to protect wildlife resources from this unneeded fossil fuel project,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director, ReThink Energy NJ and New Jersey Conservation.
“These agencies, entrusted with protecting our public natural resources, ignored clear and credible documented evidence that this site supports nesting raptors and migratory songbirds,” continued Gilbert. “Transco’s eleventh-hour survey was rushed and biased, and NJDEP ignored Bordentown’s ‘stay’ request to halt construction, which allowed Transco to proceed despite the documented presence of these species.”
New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJ Conservation) biologists documented clear biological evidence at the GSE site of several species of migratory and nesting birds and raptors nesting at the site. Despite risks to these habitats, Williams proceeded with construction today due to inaction by NJDEP and FWS.
The Town of Bordentown submitted an official request to NJDEP to halt construction based upon the evidence of nesting birds, as well as their pending appeal of NJDEP’s issuance of a Freshwater Wetlands Permit for the project. NJDEP ignored this plea despite the urging of several state legislators to hold off on clearing the site.
According to Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) executive director Carleton Montgomery, “The discovery of protected birds at the proposed construction site just as work was about to begin demonstrated that NJDEP rushed to judgment in approving permits for this development, leaving both the environment and the residents of these communities at risk at the hands of the irresponsible Williams company.”