FERC Issues Draft EIS for PennEast Despite Missing Data, Intense Opposition, Disputed Need for the Project

Posted July 22, 2016

Stockton, NJ (July 22, 2016) – ReThink Energy NJ, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, and the Stony Brook – Millstone Watershed Association today released the following statement about the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) release of a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed PennEast pipeline:

“FERC’s issuance of a DEIS for the proposed PennEast pipeline completely undermines the public trust. PennEast has not provided data on a host of environmental impacts, so it is impossible for FERC to assess the environmental costs of this project,” said Tom Gilbert, Campaign Director for ReThink Energy NJ and New Jersey Conservation. “Given the thunderous, bi-partisan opposition to the project that has been continuously mounting for the past two years, FERC should have put the DEIS on hold. An Environmental Impact Statement without data on environmental impacts is simply premature.

“Industry analysts and independent economics experts have raised serious questions regarding whether there is public need for this project, saying that we already have more than enough pipeline capacity to meet our gas distribution needs, even in the harshest winters. FERC should hold an evidentiary hearing to thoroughly investigate whether there is legitimate public need for the project,” continued Gilbert.

“Release of this DEIS is yet another flawed step in a very flawed process,” said Jim Waltman, Executive Director of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. “There is no demonstrated need for this pipeline, which threatens some of New Jersey’s most pristine streams and wetlands. We should fully embrace the tremendous potential of solar, wind and other sources of clean, renewable energy, and stop the proliferation of fossil fuels like oil and gas.”

Many other federal, state and local leaders opposed to PennEast have joined the chorus objecting to FERC’s actions and the proposed pipeline:

  • There are more than 1,400 intervenors in the project, the vast majority in opposition to PennEast, and more than 9,000 citizens from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and beyond petitioned FERC to reject the project.
  • Every municipality along the proposed route in New Jersey has passed a resolution against PennEast.
  • Watson-Coleman (D-NJ), Lance (R-NJ), Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Cartwright (D-PA) have sent letters to FERC and the EPA expressing grave concern over PennEast.

“FERC’s flawed process continues to threaten our environment, green spaces and water resources, and public and private lands in New Jersey and well beyond our state’s borders. As far as the PennEast application is concerned, multiple organizations have indicated that there are ample existing pipelines to serve the region’s needs. We’ve called on FERC to consider the cumulative impact of these pipelines and the threat of this pipeline in particular a number of times, and so I’m deeply disappointed to see them issue a draft EIS. The community here neither wants nor needs PennEast, and if FERC is doing its job it would assess that need while considering alternatives to this pipeline,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12). “On PennEast’s application, and every application that it reviews, FERC should consider whether there is a true need for more pipelines, their cumulative impact, and whether alternatives such as renewable energy present a better option.”

“The proposed PennEast project would have significant impacts on taxpayer-preserved open spaces, agriculturally-important farmland, and hundreds of private landowners,” said Congressman Leonard Lance (R-7). “FERC has a responsibility to regulate energy infrastructure projects and protect the public’s interests in these matters.”

“Setting aside the extensive risks that PennEast poses to drinking water and preserved open space, it is a waste of taxpayer resources for FERC to examine the spotty data on environmental costs of this pipeline, when neither the Commission nor PennEast has met the threshold economic test to indicate that the project is needed,” said Jennifer Danis, senior staff attorney at Eastern Environmental Law Center, as counsel for New Jersey Conservation and the Stony Brook – Millstone Watershed Association. 

“We are extremely disappointed to see FERC rushing to action on this matter. It has been clearly documented by many parties that PennEast’s application to FERC is woefully incomplete and misleading. As such, there is insufficient basis for moving forward with a DEIS,” said Jeffrey R. Shafer, a founding member of HALT PennEast (Homeowners Against Land Taking) and former Undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury. “We are working with the long list of organizations and thousands of individuals who oppose PennEast. Collectively we vow to take full advantage of the 45 day public comment period and thoroughly demonstrate that this application is incomplete, that there is no need for this project, and we will not stand for the extreme damage this project will cause to our region, our towns, our homes and livelihoods.”


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