STOCKTON, NJ, (January 25, 2016) — Citing PennEast’s “blatant disregard” for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) environmental review process, New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association are urging FERC to suspend its review of plans to build a 114-mile natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.
“It is inconceivable that FERC could move forward with the PennEast application when it omits critical information and contains glaring inaccuracies,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director for the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “We call upon FERC to protect the integrity of its review process and public mandate and not allow this incomplete and grossly inaccurate application to proceed.
“The purpose of an Environmental Impact Statement is to provide policy makers and the public with the best available information upon which to base their decisions,” said Mike Pisauro, Policy Director for the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. “The applicant has not provided the relevant information about its proposal so preparing an Environmental Impact Statement at this time would be a total sham.”
“PennEast’s failure to provide the additional information requested by FERC offers us one more example of their negligent handling of a proposal that poses risks to the health and safety of New Jersey’s families, wildlife, and environment. With so much of the community already demonstrating fierce opposition to the pipeline, and limited proof that it’s necessary when considering the web of pipelines and pending applications that already cover the region, PennEast should not be allowed to move any further. It’s time for FERC to take a comprehensive approach that considers the cumulative impact of applications like this one—and under such an approach, it would be entirely irresponsible to give PennEast approval, said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-12).”
“PennEast must answer all legitimate questions regarding this matter before FERC engages further in the NEPA review process. I oppose the pipeline because it would violate farmland and open space protection in NJ,” said Congressman Leonard Lance, (R-7)
“My opposition continues against this pipeline. PennEast needs to be held accountable in the permitting process every step of the way so it is critically important that PennEast answers all of the outstanding questions before FERC proceeds with the NEPA review process,” said Senator Kip Bateman, (R-16).
“The repercussions of the FERC’s review of this project could have implications for the stakeholders for generations to come. The only responsible course of action would be for the FERC to suspend its NEPA review process until all required information is complete and accurate,” said Assemblywoman Elizabeth Maher Muoio, (D-15).
In a letter to FERC sent Friday, Jan. 21 from attorneys representing the two organizations, the groups urged that the review of the pipeline application be suspended until a complete response to the information request that FERC submitted to PennEast on November 24, 2015 is provided. The November 24 letter also cited numerous information requests from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection that PennEast has failed to address.
“PennEast submitted a filing that can fairly be characterized as nonresponsive — a mere placeholder for providing actual data upon which FERC could draft a legally sufficient EIS (environmental impact study),” the letter, submitted by Aaron Kleinbaum and Jennifer Danis of the Eastern Environmental Law Center and Edward Lloyd of the Environmental Law Clinic of Columbia University School of Law on behalf of the organizations, stated. “In doing so, PennEast demonstrated both a blatant disregard for the FERC’s NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) review process, as well as for the stakeholders’ concerns.”
“Given the huge gaps in data submitted to this docket, FERC lacks important information upon which it could prepare even a draft EIS reflecting a hard look at this project,” the letter from Kleinbaum, Danis and Lloyd continued. “Put simply, FERC must have something to take a hard look at — and PennEast has thus far failed to provide it.”
For example, the letter stated, in response to FERC’s request on November 24 that PennEast provide the mile post locations for anode beds and test stations, PennEast stated on December 15 it will provide FERC such information in the third quarter of 2016. PennEast also stated at the time it would not provide alternative route analysis or mitigation plans until it begins the state permitting process. “Absent such data, FERC’s preparation of a DEIS (draft environmental impact statement) would not meet the requirements of NEPA,” the letter stated. “At this time a DEIS would be an empty exercise, with no potential to evaluate actual environmental consequence of this greenfields pipeline project.”
Tom Gilbert, New Jersey Conservation Campaign Director — Energy, Climate and Natural Resources
Mike Pisauro, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association Policy Director