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Temporary Victory at Highlands Council

Date : Thu, 19 Jan 2012 21:39:24 -0500

Thanks to Terri for coming out tonight and testifying!

/////For Immediate Release/
January 19, 2012 Contact: Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100*

 Temporary Victory at Highlands Council*** Today the Highlands Council delayed a project that would threaten New Jersey's drinking water supply by delaying a vote on a gas pipeline across the Monksville Reservoir, the Highlands Preservation Area, and several state and county parks.The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company (TGP) is applying for an exemption from the Highlands Act for their infrastructure expansion project that will enable increased exports of natural gas produced through the dangerous technique of hydraulic fracturing or fracking from the Marcellus Shale.The pipeline will destroy critical Highlands resources and impact a significant amount of preserved lands held in the public trust.The project did not have enough votes to pass. Only 5 Councilmen were going to vote yes and the motion needs 8 to pass. Christie-appointed Council Chairmen Rilee only motioned to table the application for 30 days after other Councilmembers had asked to wait until after federal approval. A majority of Councilmen had significant concerns about the impacts of the project and wanted more information, especially as DEP and EPA have raised concerns about the project in the environmental review before FERC.

"This is a temporary victory. The Christie allies on the Council are trying to push it through and would not listen to the majority of the Council who wanted to table the motion until federal approval. While everyone else on the Council is trying to protect the Highlands, they are more concerned about the gas industry than our water supply," *said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club*. The exemption would be based on the company's mitigation plan, which we have seen fail on the 300 Line Project, a project TGP completed construction on in November.That project has destroyed Lake Lookover in West Milford and increased flooding along the Right of Way.Numerous problems were reported in areas of steep slopes and the company was often found to not be in compliance with its own mitigation measures.There was significant erosion problems resulting in the siltation and destruction of waterways.Some of our worst fears have come true about the impacts of the 300 Line Project to waterways in the Highlands, and this project would allow TGP to destroy even more of our critical lands.

"Between the violations and the problems experienced at Lake Lookover in the previous project, it is clear the Northeast Upgrade proposal will destroy even more of our critical Highlands water resources," *said Jeff Tittel*. Replacement land commitments by the company are weak.The company will not spend more than $7500 per acre on replacement lands, however recent Green Acres purchases in the area have cost well over $7500 an acre.For example, the Woggish parcel next to the pipeline was purchased for $41,000 per acre in 2009.TGP will not be able to purchase high-resource upland forests to mitigate the impacts of this project with a $7500 per acre cap in place.And the company can cash out at $7500 an acre if replacement land is not purchased within 2-3 years.TGP would be allowed to destroy some of the most resource rich areas of the Highlands without having to purchase equal caliber lands for replacement. The Northeast Upgrade Project would install 18 miles of new pipeline in Sussex, Passaic, and Bergen counties and upgrade existing compressor and meter stations in Sussex and Bergen counties. The Northeast Upgrade Project will cut under the Monksville Reservoir and cross a significant amount of public land including Long Pond Ironworks and Ringwood State Parks and the Ramapo County Reservation.

"You cannot mitigate for this kind of destruction across the Highlands.This project will impact some of the most sensitive land in the state that is simply irreplaceable," *said Jeff Tittel*. The Highlands Council approval comes before any federal approvals were issued for the project.TGP is applying for a certificate of public convenience and necessity from FERC and as part of the process an environmental assessment on the project's impacts is being finalized.The environmental review also examines what viable alternatives exist.Approvals has not been issued on the state level either, but the company has submitted land use permits to the DEP and has begun working with the Green Acres program, local governments and non-profit groups on diversions of public lands for the project. The Sierra Club challenges any need for the project given the glut of natural gas in this country and decreasing demand. The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that, between 1999 and 2009, total natural gas consumption for all sectors decreased by 13.3% in New Jersey and 10.4% in New York. This project is not necessary to meet consumer demand and is instead being proposed to move gas produced through the dangerous technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to eastern markets.

"Today the Highlands Council to protected our drinking water and the unique resources of this region.This project will bring more pollution in our waterways, loss of our forests, and destruction of our wetlands to support toxic fossil fuels and the Council correctly wants more information on these impacts before considering this project," *said Kate Millsaps, program assistant, NJ Sierra Club*.* Problems reported in the construction of the 300 Line Project under FERC Docket Number CP09-444-000,*

/ /

/ /

/ / Week of December 11, 2011 through December 17, 2011

(the project was completed at this point but the cumulative column shows the number of issues over the course of the project)

       

        Failure to properly install erosion controls/ use of BMPsto adequately protect resources

       

0

       

15 Use of unapproved construction entrance

       

0

       

2 Failure to adequately protect segregated topsoil

       

0

       

2 Silt-laden water overwhelming erosion controls and entering resource/depositing sediment off ROW

       

0

       

43 Failure to maintain filter bag allowing silt laden water to enter wetland

       

0

       

1 Failure to stabilize access road resulting in sediment-laden water entering stream/waterbody

       

0

       

3 Sediment/rock deposited off the ROW

       

0

       

10 Bentonite from HDD operations deposited in stream/wetland (not associated with frac out)

       

0

       

2 Failure to maintain flow under equipment bridge crossing

       

0

       

1 Failure to replace erosion controls at the end of the work day

       

0

       

1 Failure to properly install trench plug

       

0

       

3 Failure to maintain erosion controls

       

0

       

5 Parking outside of approved workspace

       

0

       

1 Off-ROW disturbance

       

0

       

2 Impact to landowner's leach field after being clearly marked in the field

       

0

       

1 Failure to use secondary containment as needed

       

0

       

2 Off-ROW erosion/disturbance resulting from stormwater discharge

       

0

       

6 Failure to clean sediment off mats/bridge resulting in sediment deposition in resource

       

0

       

1 Equipment leak with potential to impact resource

       

0

       

1

       

        Failure to replace erosion controls at the end of the work day

       

0

       

1 Failure to properly segregate topsoil in agricultural field/rotated pasture

       

0

       

7 Placement of wetland subsoils off-ROW within resource

       

0

       

1 Failure to properly use filtering device during trench dewatering

       

0

       

2 Failure to follow proper procedures during trench dewatering

       

0

       

1 Parking outside of approved workspace

       

0

       

4 Failure to properly install/maintain erosion controls/BMPs resulting in impact to resource

       

0

       

9 Failure to use secondary containment as needed

       

0

       

1 Placement of construction materials outside of approved workspace

       

0

       

2 Sediment off ROW

       

0

       

1 In-stream work conducted during fishery restriction

       

0

       

2 Placement of upland soils within resource

       

0

       

1 Failure to maintain rock construction entrance

       

0

       

1

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2012-01-19 18:39:24

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