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DRBC Approves Permits for Destructive Pipeline

Date : Fri, 20 Jul 2012 11:37:56 -0400

For Immediate Release
July 12, 2012 Contact: Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

*DRBC Approves Permits for Destructive Pipeline Yesterday the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) took the side of water pollution over clean water by approving permits for Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company's (TGP) Northeast Upgrade Project.The project would install a new pipeline underneath the Delaware River and across sensitive portions of the watershed, including High Point State Park.The DRBC approved water withdrawals for pipeline testing and discharges of the used water at their meeting. Instead of looking out for the best interests of the watershed, DRBC is catering to the needs of an energy corporation.The DRBC has the authority to take over and oversee large scale linear utility projects in the Basin.The agency's regulations would have required more mitigation and would have ensured the project was done properly.The DRBC simply approved the permits instead of exercising this authority, despite numerous self-reported and DEP violations occurring on the last pipeline the company constructed in New Jersey, completed last year.

"The DRBC did not do their job when they approved this pipeline.They should have said no and under their rules take control of the project to ensure that the pipeline does not impact the Delaware Basin and water supply.They chose death of a thousand cuts instead of looking at the project holistically, including secondary and cumulative impacts," *said Jeff Tittel, Director NJ Sierra Club*. "Instead of protecting the Basin they are allowing a pipeline to destroy parts of the watershed." The Sierra Club and other environmental groups are currently challenging the federal approvals for this project and have requested a rehearing on the issuance of a certificate of public convenience and necessity by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).The approval came two weeks after TGP requested the federal agency approve the project by May 30^th .TGP has received approvals to divert public lands in New Jersey for the project but has not received DEP Land Use permits. The Northeast Upgrade Project will install 18 miles of new pipeline in Sussex, Passaic, and Bergen counties and upgrade existing compressor and meter stations in Sussex and Bergen counties. About fifty percent of the project is located on public lands including High Point State Park, Ringwood State Park, Long Pond Ironworks State Park, and the Ramapo Reservation.The project will cut under the Monksville Reservoir and the Delaware River, both major drinking water supplies.

"This is a scar across the Delaware Basin that destroys our woodlands and jeopardizes our water supplies.You cannot mitigate for this kind of destruction.This project will impact some of the most sensitive land in the state that is simply irreplaceable and that is why we are asking for the rehearing," said Tittel. This project will have significant impacts on the environment, proven by TGP's dismal track record in the region.The company completed the 300 Line Project in Wantage, Vernon, and West Milford in November and there are still open DEP violations from that project that have not been resolved.Erosion and sedimentation problems continue at Lake Lookover in West Milford.Since the project, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have been documented on the pipeline right-of-way by the Vernon Environmental Commission.Residents along the route have complained of increased flooding and impacts to drinking water wells.

"Because TGP has had all these violations and a horrible track record, the DRBC needed to take control.Instead the DRBC took the side of water pollution over doing their job," said Jeff. The reason this decision is so bad is because this will not be the only pipeline in the Basin.As fracking operations expand, more pipelines will be proposed across the watershed.The DRBC is one of the only agencies that has the authority to look at the cumulative impacts of all proposed pipelines in the watershed instead of piecemeal.Instead of taking a regional planning approach they approved this pipeline without studying the broader impacts.Currently there is a moratorium on fracking in the Basin and this should include a moratorium on pipelines being proposed to transport gas produced by fracking throughout the watershed.

"The approval of the Northeast Upgrade project will allow TGP to destroy more of our water supplies and public lands before they even address all problems from their first project.This company has a proven track record of causing destruction, and we are giving them another approval to pollute our land, air, and water. This is a recipe for disaster," *said Jeff Tittel*.

Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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