Complaint and Motion Filed with FERC Requests Hearing to Assess Public Need; New Jersey and Pennsylvania State and Federal Legislators Join in Support
STOCKTON, N.J. (June 15, 2016) – The Eastern Environmental Law Center (EELC), on behalf of New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF) and the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association (SBMWA), today announced it has filed a complaint and motion with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting an evidentiary hearing to assess public need for the proposed PennEast pipeline in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Members of Congress and New Jersey state legislators voiced their support for a hearing.
“FERC must have substantial evidence of significant public benefit to approve PennEast’s application, but the company’s existing record fails to meet that test. Before FERC proceeds, it needs to take a closer look at the application,” said Jennifer Danis, senior lawyer, EELC.
“The proposed pipeline would have significant adverse impacts to existing ratepayers, landowners and the environment, and FERC must account for the serious questions that the public and industry experts have raised about the economics of this project,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director, NJCF. “To determine exactly what demand is purportedly being met by PennEast, we are taking legal action requesting that FERC hold an evidentiary hearing.”
The complaint and motion filed today explains that PennEast is exercising a new form of market abuse that FERC can only assess by conducting an evidentiary hearing. The six owners of PennEast have contracted for 74 percent of the proposed pipeline’s initial capacity. An analysis from national energy expert Skipping Stone concluded that PennEast can’t rely on such non-arms-length contracts to demonstrate public need. Further, there is already 49.9 percent more firm pipeline capacity than is needed in New Jersey, even in the harsh winter that the state experienced in 2013. Because there is no need for and little interest in PennEast, after 10 years the owners would have to bear 88 percent of the pipeline’s total capacity.
“National energy experts have provided credible evidence contradicting PennEast’s claim that New Jersey needs its proposed pipeline. I call upon FERC not to move forward with this massive pipeline if it is not, in fact, needed,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12).
“The power of eminent domain must not be granted to a private company in the absence of compelling public need,” said Congressman Leonard Lance (R-7). “I support the call for an evidentiary hearing.”
EELC has requested that FERC issue an order to initiate a full discovery hearing before an administrative law judge, to create an opportunity to:
“PennEast poses serious threats to New Jersey’s land, water, open space and property rights,” said Jim Waltman, executive director, SBMWA. “Before the review process moves one more step forward, the corporations advocating this private project must first demonstrate a public need for it – something they haven’t even come close to doing.”
U.S. Senate testimony delivered yesterday by the Environmental Defense Fund highlighted the lack of need for additional pipelines in the Northeast and cautioned against overbuilding unnecessary infrastructure. Click here to view the testimony transcript.
Several other federal and state legislators also expressed support for an evidentiary hearing: