Watershed Lawyer Battles Pro-Pipeline Bills in D.C.

The Watershed voiced its opposition to proposed legislation at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday, saying New Jersey’s ability to protect streams, wetlands and other environmentally sensitive lands would be hindered as a result.

Jennifer Danis, an attorney with the Eastern Environmental Law Center who is representing the Watershed in its fight against the PennEast Pipeline,  told a House of Representatives’ subcommittee that the proposed legislation would put the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in charge of the environmental permitting of other agencies, including New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection. The impact could speed up approval of natural gas pipelines, such as the PennEast Pipeline, by interfering with states’ rights.

The proposed amendments to the Natural Gas Act “would create unnecessary chaos and upset the careful balance of cooperative federalism,” Danis told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power. “The proposed changes would undermine states’ rights by inappropriately expanding FERC’s Natural Gas Act authority. The proposal would interfere with federal and state agencies’ ability to protect natural resources for the public.”

Jim Waltman, Executive Director of the Watershed urged caution. “This legislation would remove safeguards in the pipeline permitting process.  Apparently, FERC’s track record of approving more than 90 percent of applications within one year is not fast enough. This bill seeks to rush approval by undermining environmental agency review and trampling over states’ rights,” Waltman said.

Click to watch the congressional testimony on the proposed amendments to the Natural Gas Act.

Written testimony submitted on behalf of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association can be found here.