New Jersey Action Could Halt Proposed PennEast Pipeline

Opponents of the proposed PennEast pipeline, a 120-mile, 36-inch pipeline from Lucerne, PA, through Hopewell, NJ, have redoubled their efforts in wake of a conditional approval for the project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and recent actions by the pipeline company to seize property by eminent domain.

This week, the pipeline company filed papers in federal court to seize land through eminent domain from dozens of homeowners, towns and land trusts along the proposed route.

PennEast is seeking permission in federal court to obtain immediate access to these lands so the company can survey properties along the proposed route.

The FERC decision in late January to grant PennEast a “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” (Certificate) was widely expected. The certificate does not mean PennEast backers can build the pipeline as there are several other hurdles they must surmount first.

One of those hurdles is complying with Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act. The pipeline cannot be built unless it receives certification by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection that it complies with all applicable water quality standards, limitations, and restrictions. Other states have rejected requests for 401 certification for similar FERC-approved pipeline projects so there is ample precedent for New Jersey to do the same with PennEast.

“Now, it’s up to New Jersey to protect our land and water from this dangerous and unnecessary pipeline and for our state to reject the Trump administration’s dirty and reckless energy policies,” said Jim Waltman, executive director, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. “This is far from over.”

Opponents have said the proposed PennEast pipeline is not needed, would damage sensitive waterways and bucolic landscapes, and take private property against the wishes of landowners.

The proposed PennEast pipeline, which in New Jersey would run through Hunterdon and Mercer counties, can’t be built without approval from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). In June, NJDEP administratively closed PennEast’s application because it was woefully inadequate, did not include information specifically required by the NJDEP, and PennEast did not have the authority to submit the application.  In early February, the agency reiterated its rejection in a letter to Penneast, forcing the company to reapply before it can proceed. The DRBC hasn’t begun its review.

The Watershed is a partner of  Rethink Energy NJ, which advocates for a swift transition to clean, renewable energy. Please join us in fighting this unneeded, environmentally damaging project today.

Urge NJDEP to reject PennEast’s pending application.