Community Leaders and Elected Officials Urge NJDEP to Reject Williams’ Application for Freshwater Wetlands Permit
BORDENTOWN, NJ (August 22, 2016) – Opponents of Williams’ proposed new compressor station and proposed modifications to an existing compressor station, both in Bordentown, will turn out in large numbers for a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) hearing today. Community leaders and elected officials alike will argue that the NJDEP should reject Williams’ request for a freshwater wetlands permit for its Garden State Expansion (GSE) project.
The hearing will take place at 6 p.m., August 22 at the Ramada Inn’s Grand Ballroom on Route 206 in Bordentown.
“The NJDEP has significant authority to act independently from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and is obligated to ensure that this project fully complies with the Clean Water and Freshwater Wetlands Protection Acts. The GSE project is not in compliance with these laws and should be rejected outright,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
During his testimony, Gilbert will point out that both the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act (FWPA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) require the NJDEP to assume that less harmful alternatives exist, with preference to avoiding impacting wetlands altogether. “Williams failed to seriously consider alternative sites that would have lesser or no impacts on wetlands, and thus failed to conduct the required alternatives analysis under the FWPA and CWA,” Gilbert said.
The GSE project, which would be an expansion of Williams’ existing Transco gas pipeline, would directly impact nearly five acres of freshwater wetlands, and would have broader indirect impacts to many more water bodies in the region.
Michael Pisauro, policy director for the Stony Brook–Millstone Watershed Association, pointed to the project as being in direct conflict with New Jersey’s water quality standards.
“Even the FERC wetlands and waterbody construction and mitigation procedures require applicants to ‘not locate aboveground facilities in any wetland,’ ” Pisauro said. “Given the importance of wetlands in protecting water quality and preventing flooding, it is difficult to see how NJDEP can issue this permit. Williams’ application does not meet water quality standards, therefore it should be denied.”
“It is imperative that the NJDEP consider the cumulative impacts of the Garden State Expansion project and Southern Reliability Link proposed by New Jersey Natural Gas,” said Carleton Montgomery, executive director, Pinelands Preservation Alliance. “Not only do these projects fail to meet the NJDEP criteria for ‘independent utilities,’ but their combined and interacting water impacts need to be reviewed under the requirements of the Clean Water Act and the Pinelands Protection Act as part of a single and complete project.”
“It is imperative that the NJDEP deny Transco’s wetlands permit application. This compressor station would jeopardize our citizens’ health, well-being, safety and tax payer dollars,” said Jill Popko, mayor of Bordentown Twp. “This boondoggle of a project would destroy our wetlands, wildlife natural habitats and property values. Regulation 404 of the Clean Water Act specifies that all other options must be taken before disrupting our precious wetlands resources. Transco has not fulfilled this necessary step in their permit application, leaving the NJDEP no other choice but to deny this permit.”
“The pending proposed pipeline projects endanger our drinking water from the Highlands to the Pinelands,” said Patty Cronheim, outreach coordinator, ReThink Energy NJ. “In these uncertain times of climate change, the last thing New Jersey needs are more threats from antiquated, unneeded pipelines to our already at-risk drinking water. We’ve all worked hard to achieve strong water regulations in New Jersey. Now it’s time for the NJDEP to enforce them.”
“It is the NJDEP’s responsibility to protect the people and environment of New Jersey, and we support them as they act in this capacity. The NJDEP should apply the full force of its authority in stopping this irresponsible and potentially destructive proposal from Transco,” said Agnes Marsala, President, People Over Pipelines.
“I believe that Transco’s application for the Water Quality Certificate is lacking crucial and accurate data. We strongly implore the DEP to ‘step back’ and collect and review all necessary data regarding the impact of this project. We are depending on them to protect our community’s water. Nothing is more important,” said Rita Romeu, Vice President, People Over Pipelines.