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Destructive Pipeline Highlights Impacts of Fracking on NJ

Date : Fri, 21 Sep 2012 10:18:53 -0400

on NJ

For Immediate Release
September 19, 2012 Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100 Elliott Ruga, NJ Highlands Coalition, 973-722-4934

Destructive Pipeline Highlights Impacts of Fracking on NJ

On Global Frackdown Day organizations across the world are bringing attention to the ways fracking for natural gas is impacting their local communities.In northern New Jersey, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) Company's pipeline expansion projects are being fueled by the proliferation of gas wells in Pennsylvania.Today elected officials and environmental and community groups will tour two portions of the TGP right-of-way (ROW), a section destroyed in their recently completed 300 Line Project and the portion through the Monksville Reservoir that would see construction if the Northeast Upgrade Project is approved.These pipeline projects degrade water quality, result in loss of forests and critical habitat, and target our public lands all to bring in more gas produced by fracking.

"On Global Frackdown Day we see fracking as a threat to our environment everywhere, especially in this region and at this location.We are here today to highlight why fracking, especially with these pipelines, is a direct threat to our environment.Drilling operations result in more flooding and air pollution, destruction of forests, and undermine clean energy.Fracking especially threatens drinking water supplies, especially the 15 million people in the Delaware River Basin and with the pipelines through the Highlands region, 5.4 million more. There is no clearer environmental threat we face than the threat from fracking," *said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club.

The 300 Line Project was completed in November of 2011and the region is still suffering its impacts.The company's mitigation techniques were inadequate and as a result problems are continuing almost a year later.The project destroyed Lake Lookover in West Milford and the homeowners association is still in settlement talks with the company to address the damages.The company was often found to not be in compliance with its own mitigation measures.There were significant erosion problems, especially in areas of steep slopes, resulting in the siltation and destruction of waterways.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.Some of our worst fears have come true about the impacts of the 300 Line Project and now TGP is applying for a second project, the Northeast Upgrade project, to destroy even more of our critical lands.

"Pipelines that have been installed in the region, as highlighted in today's tour, are proving our point, that installation of pipelines, individually and collectively, is a hazard for New Jersey, the Delaware River, our streams, our communities and our ecosystems.Pipeline proposals that would cross the state and region are proliferating at an increasing rate in order to serve the shale gas drilling industry. As a result we are on the cusp of a new and yet-to-be-recognized environmental hazard for our communities," says *Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper*.

"The level of land disturbance and in-water construction the pipelines will require, the volumes of methane that pipelines are known to leak, the noisy and polluting air compressor stations pipelines bring, and the many dozens of violations recent pipelines have imposed on our environment and communities, have raised a red flag of concern for citizens and legislators alike," van Rossum added. 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.The Monksville Reservoir is part of the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, providing drinking water to over 2 million state residents.About 3 million New Jersey residents depend on the Delaware River for drinking water, with all those water supply intake points south of where the pipeline crosses the River.

"Despite assurances to the contrary the 300 Line Project left a wake of environmental damage from which it will take decades to recover. The Northeast Upgrade Project will cut through the core of the Highlands priceless water resources, its forests, and our preserved public land. We stand to sacrifice the sources of our water supply solely to ship gas to destinations other than New Jersey, and whose extraction process may prove catastrophic," said *Elliott Ruga, Senior Policy Analyst for the New Jersey Highlands Coalition*.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project at the end of May but the Eastern Environmental Law Center, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, NJ Sierra Club, and NJ Highlands Coalition are challenging the approval and have requested a rehearing. The project has not received permits from the DEP for impacts to wetlands and flood hazard areas.The groups are also asking New Jersey elected officials to request a review of the NEU project and all pipelines proposed in the Basin by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC).

"'Think first act later; stop, look and listen,' adages we teach our children and try to help them understand and live by. Yet we are allowing the proliferation of gas and oil pipelines to dissect our region with limited thought or understanding as to what the ramifications and irreversible costs and damages of these projects are and what their lasting legacy will be for our communities, our drinking water and our future. Instead, in the name of helping oil and gas companies expand their export markets, we are not heeding the important adages we teach our children. There is no urgency here, except the one dictated by oil and gas company stock prices," *said Harriet Shugarman, Executive Director, ClimateMama*. These pipelines are the result of more and more drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale.Fracking impacts our air, water, and energy policy.Each well that is fracked requires hundreds of thousands of gallons of water and the wastewater produced contains over 700 chemicals.Drilling operations release toxic air emissions and methane, a greenhouse gas twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in our atmosphere.Natural gas is a finite fossil fuel, and instead of expanding drilling operations we should be focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

"Normal and accidental releases from compressor stations, metering locations, and pipelines are of grave concern because of exposure to respiratory diseases. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, methane, benzene, formaldehyde, and volatile organic compounds are typically released from compression operations. With higher pressures and larger volumes of natural gas passing through New Jersey and particularly the Highlands region, elevated concentrations of these emissions will adversely affect the health of vegetation, animals, and our families," *said Greg Gorman of the Multistate Alliance Promoting Lasting Energy (MAPLE).* Suppliers have produced 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. The glut of natural gas is also causing prices to drop, to the point where Chesapeake, the second largest natural gas producer, announced they were scaling back production in 2012 due to the low price.The company was recently bought out at a low rate because their stock dropped dramatically based on an overestimation of recoverable gas supplies.As other companies may also scale back production we do not know the total amount of gas that will need to be moved from the Marcellus Shale region.Needed pipeline capacity in the future will most likely decrease as companies scale back production. This is one of a number of pipelines expansions being proposed to cross New Jersey which will impact our water supplies, forests, and open spaces.The new Spectra pipeline will cross through some of the most densely populated areas of the state, Bayonne, Jersey City and Hoboken and impacts Liberty State Park.The Transco pipeline expansion in Hunterdon County will impact the Raritan River, a major drinking water supply source.Work on another portion of the pipeline will impact the Meadowlands.Millennium recently completed a pipeline in Orange County, New York and could expand their existing line in Bergen County that shares a compressor station with the TGP line in the Ramapo Reservation.Williams withdrew plans earlier this year to expand a pipeline in Bergen County.

"In Bergen County, Transco Williams is currently reevaluating a plan to expand the pressure of a gas pipeline that runs through many of our towns. The route currently runs along quiet residential streets, near schools, places of worship, and libraries, and along Lake Tappan, a reservoir and drinking water source. Based on the industry's performance in West Milford, we question whether any expansion of the pipeline is in the local public's interest. Increased gas pressure or new construction could potentially increase noise, traffic, air pollution; destroy trees and wildlife habitat, and put the health and safety of residents at risk. We are watching this cautiously," *said Rosemary Dreger Carey of Pascack Sustainability Group*.

Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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