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Polluting Pipeline Gets Federal Enviro Approval

Date : Wed, 1 Aug 2012 16:02:15 -0400

For Immediate Release

August 1, 2012

Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club Director, 609-558-9100

Polluting Pipeline Gets Federal Enviro Approval

Today the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) took the side of special interests and polluting fossil fuels over the environment and public health and safety.The agency released its Environmental Assessment on the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company's (Transco) Northeast Supply Link project with a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).This ruling comes despite the project crossing habitat for federally threatened species and major drinking water supply watershed lands, including the Raritan River which provides drinking water to over one million state residents.Sierra Club also challenges the need for the project as natural demand drops and the pipeline's role in expanding the use of the dangerous gas drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

"FERC has become a cheerleader for the fossil industry.They are looking out for the gas companies, not the environment and public safety of the people of New Jersey.They never met a pipeline they did not like and have ignored the impacts to New Jersey's enivornment, public health, and safety and the secondary impacts.They should change their name from FERC to frack.FERC should stand for the Federal Expedited Rubberstamp Commission, they do not regulate anything," said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club."The Transco pipeline project will threaten our water supply, clear cut our forests, and increase our dependence on a polluting fossil fuel source.This will be another ugly scar through the Highlands and other rural, environmentally sensitive areas."

The project would have significant impacts on the Highlands region, drinking water supplies, steep slopes, important wetlands and threatened species habitat.The company wants to drill underneath the South Branch of the Raritan River and through lands in the River's watershed.The South Branch provides drinking water to over 1 million people and sedimentation, erosion, and potential contamination impacts to the river during construction will lower water quality.

The pipeline will impact public lands that belong to all of us in the South Branch Reservation and Cramer's Creek Park in Clinton Township.

The Northeast Supply Link project would install close to 7 miles of new pipeline in Union, Franklin and Clinton Townships, conduct major modifications to 25 miles of existing pipeline through Essex, Passaic, Hudson, and Bergen counties, and add a new compressor station in Roseland, New Jersey.

"Pennsylvania gets the money, New York gets the gas, and we get the pipe," said Jeff Tittel.

This project is being pushed by suppliers fracking in the Marcellus Shale gas fields.This technology is producing a glut of natural gas, but actual industrial, commercial, and residential customer demand remains flat.The 2010 U.S. Energy Information Administration /International Energy Outlook/ 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.FERC must conduct a thorough demand assessment to ensure that this project is not solely being driven by these gas suppliers.

This project will allow for more fracking by providing more export capacity to gas wells in Pennsylvania.The Williams-Transco pipeline, which is contracted for over 50% of the new capacity, is one of three major pipelines in Bradford County that is already being used to transport Marcellus Shale gas.Transco has also negotiated contracts with two other Marcellus Shale natural gas producers, Anadarko Petroleum and Hess Corporation, so 100 percent of gas flowing through this pipeline will be produced by fracking.

"How many gas pipeline expansion project do we need across the state as the gas drillers are announcing they are decreasing production?These projects are all speculative and driven by the supply-side.They are not based on actual demand; if they were, they would not be built," said Jeff Tittel.

Transco filed a formal application with FERC for the project in December.The project has not received a public Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from FERC.The New Jersey Sierra Club has intervened in the proceedings before FERC along with Clinton Township, New Jersey Highlands Coalition, Fight the Pipe, and Food and Water Watch.The groups are being represented by the Eastern Environmental Law Center.By intervening, these organizations will be able to challenge FERC's final decision in court if necessary.

Environmental groups and citizens have until August 31st to submit comments on the draft EA to FERC.

"FERC is not protecting our environment, they are protecting the profits of the fossil fuel industry.Now is the time for residents to submit their comments calling on FERC to deny this project due to the significant impacts this pipeline will have not just on our forests and important waterways, but on our clean energy future," said Kate Millsaps, program assistant, Sierra Club.

The EA can be viewed here: http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20120801-4001

Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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