October 30, 2013

Environmentalists File Intervention, Oppose Pipeline

The environmental groups Food and Water Watch, Environment New Jersey, and the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club filed a “notice of intervention” on Tuesday, October 22, with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington D.C.

The commission is the agency considering the proposal for a pipeline that would go through Princeton and Montgomery Township.

The “intervenors” oppose plans by the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company (Transco) to expand an existing natural gas pipeline that runs through a 1.3 mile section of the Princeton Ridge between Coventry Farm and Cherry Valley Road.

According to a press release announcing the intervention, the environmental groups regard the project as cutting across “environmentally sensitive areas, important streams and forests, and critical habitat to carry gas produced through the dangerous technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.”

If successful, their efforts would deny approvals for Transco’s Leidy Southeast Expansion Project which proposes a 1,000 horsepower upgrade of the Mercer County Station (205) in Lawrence Township as well as other power station upgrades in the state.

As part of its process, FERC will examine an “Environmental Assessment” report. But, the “intervenors” are calling for a more thorough “Environmental Impact Statement” because of “the significant impacts the pipeline expansion will have on potential threatened and endangered species habitat, loss of forest cover and wetlands, threats to our public open spaces, intensifying and expanding the use of fracking in the Marcellus Shale, and intensifying climate change,” said Kate Millsaps of the NJ Sierra Club.

The environmentalists also urge FERC to consider the cumulative effects on the environment of the process of fracking.

They argue that FERC must also look at the potential impacts of exporting gas overseas as this pipeline will expand capacity to the southern United States where there are a number of proposals to expand export capacity and result in more drilling.

“This fracking gas pipeline will tear a scar across Central Jersey’s environment and will double down on dirty fracked gas,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club, agreed “There is no need for this pipeline. The purpose is to promote fracking and the burning of fossil fuels that impact clean water and promote climate change.”

The Oklahoma-based Williams Company, which would conduct the project, filed its application to do so in September and a decision is expected to come from FERC sometime next year.

With the filing of this “notice of intervention,” the environmental groups signal their right to challenge a favorable decision. The notice of intervention can be viewed at: http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20131022-5025