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Groups Urge DEP to Deny Transco Pipeline Permits

Date : Fri, 10 Aug 2012 10:25:05 -0400

For Immediate Release

August 8, 2012

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

Julia Somers, NJ Highlands Coalition 973-588-7190

Groups Urge DEP to Deny Transco Pipeline Permits

Over twenty organizations and the Clinton Township Council have submitted comments to the DEP urging them to deny Freshwater Wetland and Flood Hazard Area permit applications for the Stanton Loop of the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company's (Transco) Northeast Supply Link project.The project would install new pipeline through six miles of Hunterdon County, crossing environmentally sensitive areas.The project will impact wetlands, threatened and endangered species habitat, water supplies, and other critical resources all to bring more polluting fossil fuels into New Jersey and New York City.

According to Kevin Cimei, Mayor of Clinton Township, "The Township Council has on more than one occasion adopted resolutions and taken other actions in opposition to this pipeline Project. Many of our residents, and critical aspects of our community, including Green Acres purchased and protected lands, will be impacted by this Project, the need for which is yet to be demonstrated, if it is approved. The Township Council has simply requested DEP hold Transco to the same standards and proofs to which other landowners/developers are held concerning the protection of the health, welfare and safety of our residents and their homes, along with the protection of our groundwater and prime groundwater recharge areas, critical streams and stream corridors, and protected and endangered species habitat, as well as Green Acres lands. Transco should not get a better or less intensive review than any other applicant, and should demonstrate with credible evidence not only that this Project is essential, but that it can be developed safely and without adverse impact to the health, welfare and safety of our residents and the environment."

The groups urge the DEP to deny the permits based upon its myriad negative impacts.The project will cross 22 wetlands. 18 are directly adjacent to a waterbody, meaning that loss of vegetative cover, compaction, and erosion in these wetlands will also directly impact those waterbodies. 10.26 acres of wetlands would be impacted by the Stanton Loop.

"If the DEP does its job, it would have to deny these permits.There is no way you can put a pipeline this destructive through so many environmentally sensitive features without a direct impact to water quality, threatened & endangered habitat or contiguous forests.These are Category One streams where there must not be any measurable or calculable change in water quality and they cannot meet that standard," said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club.

The project will cross habitat for the bog turtle which is endangered in New Jersey and a federally threatened species.Habitat loss is one of the primary factors for the declining number of bog turtles in the state and this project will result in further loss.

"We are deeply concerned about the approvals for this pipeline project.Construction would have a seriously damaging effect on a number of important waterbodies and prime endangered species habitat.We expect the DEP to protect the valuable resources of the Highlands by denying these permit applications" said Julia Somers, Executive Director, New Jersey Highlands Coalition.

The project crosses several important waterbodies including the South Branch of the Raritan River which provides drinking water for over one million people.The pipeline will be within 150 feet of headwaters for the New Jersey Water Supply Authority as there is a surface water intake on the South Branch of the Raritan River less than 1 mile downstream of the proposed Stanton Loop crossing.If drilling lubricants or clays leak into the Raritan River during construction, it could muddy the water with fine particles impacting macroinvertbrates and plant life, and possibly cause fish kills.

The project would cross three Category-One waterways, which have the highest level of protection, and 13 wetlands that feedhigh quality waterways.These water bodies have an _anti-degradation_ surface water standard, meaning these waterbodies are protected from any measurable change to water quality.The groups believe the permits should be denied as the project could cause changes in the water quality through sedimentation, loss of vegetative cover, compaction of soil, and stream channelization impacts.

The organizations are concerned that the proposed mitigation measures will fail to fully address the impacts of the project.The company is proposing to allow much of the workspace to re-vegetate naturally, but does not include any measures to address deer, runoff from storms prior to revegetation, or times of drought.The measures to address invasive species, erosion, and sedimentation are limited to three-five years following the end of construction.

"Destroying the Highlands with this pipeline will accomplish little more than delivering profits to an industry who through fracking has poisoned drinking water, polluted the air and is perpetuating global warming," said Karina Wilkinson, Regional Organizer for Food & Water Watch.

The groups urge the DEP to conduct an independent alternatives analysis on the project, instead of relying on Transco's data.Currently the DEP is reviewing alternatives submitted by the applicant and their consultants.

The Northeast Supply Link project has three components.In addition to the Stanton Loop expansion the company is also requesting approvals to modify 25 miles of pipe in Essex, Passaic, Hudson, and Bergen Counties, and add a new compressor station in Roseland, New Jersey.Instead of looking at the cumulative impacts of the entire project, DEP is viewing the segments separately.This potentially violates the Freshwater Wetlands Act which prohibits applying for separate permits for portions of the same project.

"The DEP should not allow them to segment the project.If you look at the entire impact and secondary impacts like fracking there is no way they should be able to get their permits.DEP do your job; say no," said Jeff Tittel.

The DEP is accepting comments through August 9th .Comments can be sent to

Ms. Jill Neall

Environmental Specialist III

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Division of Land Use Regulation

P.O Box 439

Trenton, NJ 08625

Or submitted through the Sierra Club website at https://secure3.convio.net/scnj/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1093

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2012-08-10 07:25:05

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