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PennEast Pipeline: On Track or Derailed?

Posted January 18, 2016

This letter is sent in response to your article, “A major investor in PennEast says project on track” by Freda R. Savana (Dec. 28, 2015). In sharp contrast to the New Jersey Natural Gas unfounded view that the proposed PennEast pipeline is on schedule, the pipeline project is actually plagued by considerable delays and uncertainty.

It is extremely misleading to suggest the pipeline is on schedule when: 

  • The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) clearly stated in a recent letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that PennEast’s “proposed construction schedule does not, at this time, appear to be attainable…” 
  • Even PennEast acknowledged in a December 2015 letter to FERC that the proposed construction schedule for its pipeline is not achievable.
  • New Jersey landowners have refused survey access to PennEast on 70 percent of the proposed route.
  • Securities analysts who follow the energy sector are reporting that the pipeline is delayed and some have even removed the pipeline project from their financial estimates.

Additionally, New Jersey Resources (NJR) — a major stakeholder in the pipeline — has changed its signals to the investment community on PennEast. In July of this year, NJR reported steady progression of its work to FERC and an in-service date of 2018. Now four months later, NJR has removed all milestones and will only go so far as to say, “continued progress” through 2018 when referring to the PennEast pipeline project.

Threatening further delays is an overarching and growing protest by concerned citizens, affected landowners, elected officials and a myriad of conservation groups. Fueling the public outcry against the pipeline is the fact that it would traverse 4,400 acres of preserved land, and cross over 30 high quality waterways in New Jersey alone. Over 1,400 people and organizations filed motions to intervene on the PennEast docket before FERC, with the vast majority in opposition.

Clearly, the facts all point to the proposed PennEast pipeline as a project that is considerably behind schedule and fraught with uncertainty. We would argue that instead of portraying the project as being “on track” that it would perhaps be more accurate to say the proposed PennEast pipeline in New Jersey is on the brink of being “derailed”.

Tom Gilbert, campaign director
ReThink Energy NJ
New Jersey Conservation Foundation

This letter to the editor originally ran in the Bucks County Courier Times.

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