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Two States Deny NESE Pipeline

May 18th, 2020

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) recently denied separate permit applications for Williams Company’s proposed natural gas project, effectively halting the $1 billion pipeline for now.

In New Jersey, the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project would entail the construction of a controversial compressor station in Franklin Township and additional pipes in Sayreville, Old Bridge, and across the Raritan Bay.

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation on Friday rejected Williams’ latest application for a water permit for NESE after denying the pipeline the same permit last year. Williams, an energy company based in Oklahoma, said Saturday that it wouldn’t be refiling applications to either New York or New Jersey, according to news reports. 

On Friday, NYDEC’s denial noted multiple deficiencies in the NESE application. Ultimately, Williams could not demonstrate that the construction and operation of NESE would not have a negative impact on New York’s water quality. The agency also said the project was inconsistent with New York’s climate change goals and that National Grid, NESE’s customer, had developed alternative strategies to meet the energy needs of its customers without constructing the pipeline.

In a written statement, NYDEC said it “is not prepared to sacrifice the State’s water quality for a project that is not only environmentally harmful but also unnecessary to meet New York’s energy needs.”

The Garden State’s denial relied on New York’s decision. Under rules implementing New Jersey’s Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act, an applicant must demonstrate that there is a compelling public need for the project before a permit can be issued. Because the main purpose of the proposal was to supply natural gas to New York, and because that state concluded that the project was not necessary, NJDEP’s denial was straightforward.

The project, which would add pipeline segments in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to an existing Williams system, joins other proposed natural gas pipelines in the region that have faced delays.

 

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