Urging stronger oversight of natural gas pipelines, the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association and others on Wednesday applauded the reintroduction of legislation by a local Congresswoman.
At a press conference in the New Jersey State House, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D- 12th Dist.), said her Safer Pipelines Act would reform the approval process and require more stringent review by the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC). The bill would replace the rubber stamping by FERC with careful and comprehensive review of the need for a new pipeline. Similar legislation was introduced last summer in the prior session of Congress.
FERC is the federal agency that regulates and approves interstate gas pipeline projects. Her bill requires stringent federal review of proposed pipelines, including economic analysis, the cumulative impacts of pipelines in a region and whether new pipelines are needed to meet the public’s energy demands.
Concerned homeowners, local politicians and other environmental groups voiced concern over the impacts to water quality and environmentally sensitive lands if the PennEast project is approved. That project would use a 36-inch-wide pipeline to transport natural gas about 118 miles from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania to New Jersey’s Hunterdon and Mercer counties.
“In its arrogance, PennEast ignored the clear requirements from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and New Jersey’s laws, by submitting an application without legal authority to do so and without all of the information necessary,” said Mike Pisauro, Policy Director for the Watershed.
Speaking at a crowded press conference, Coleman said, “This is simple. The process FERC uses to approve pipelines is inherently flawed and the PennEast proposal continues to be an example of their lack of diligence. My SAFER Pipelines Act will remedy this but until then, NJDEP must reject this application.”
In the meantime, Coleman, local politicians and environmental leaders insisted that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection “uphold their clear authority under the Clean Water Act and state regulations with respect to PennEast.”
The Watershed was joined at the press conference by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, ReThink Energy NJ and others.