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NPS Sells Out Delaware Water Gap, Sierra Club Will Challenge Powerline in Court

Date : Wed, 3 Oct 2012 11:59:52 -0400

Challenge Powerline in Court

For Immediate Release
October 2, 2012 Contact: Jeff Tittel, Director, 609-558-9100

*NPS Sells Out Delaware Water Gap, Sierra Club Will Challenge Powerline in Court* Today the integrity of our National Parks was compromised as the National Park Service (NPS) issued it final decision allowing the Susquehanna-Roseland to cut across and destroy portions of our public lands.The agency approved its Record of Decision (ROD) completing the environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and issued permits for the project.Instead of selecting the best alternative for the environment, the Parks, and our clean energy future, the "No Build" alternative, NPS is putting corporate interests before the public interest. The agency selected the preferred route of PPL and PSEG through our national park units.The scenic vistas and important natural resources of our National Park lands, which belong to all of us, will be destroyed by the expansion of this transmission line.This project will bring in more dirty coal-fired energy into New Jersey through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Middle Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and the Appalachian Trail.The EIS found the project would cause $89 million in damage to the park but we would only receive $56 million in compensation from PPL and PSEG. Sierra Club is already challenging this project's state Board of Public Utilities approval in the courts and will challenge the NPS federal approval in the courts as well.

"This is an outrageous decision by the NPS.They sold out the Delaware Water Gap.The Park Service compromised their integrity and violated their own mission which is to protect public lands, not give them away to utilities.If we allow PSEG and PPL to put this project in our national parks, they can construct polluting power lines anywhere like Yellowstone or Yosemite.This sets a dangerous precedent and we are fighting to do the job the Park Service should have done but did not.These lands are supposed to be protected for future generations, not turned over to power companies.This is a dirty deal for dirty power and sets a dangerous precedent.It is now open season on our National Parklands.John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt would be ashamed of the NPS's actions," said Jeff Tittel, *Director, NJ Sierra Club*.

Jeff continued, "We will be going to court to challenge this give-away of our precious open spaces.We are already preparing our legal challenge.We have been expecting this since the administration fast tracked the project; we knew the NPS would sell out our national parks." The NPS considered several alternatives to the project including routes completely outside the Delaware Water Gap along existing utility right of ways.However an alternative route would continue to have impacts on the Appalachian Trail and the Highlands region, which is state and federally recognized as a critical environmental resource area.The "No Build" Alternative is the only option that would prevent the destruction of resources both within and outside the park units. The approval was based on the $30-40 million mitigation plan proposed by the two utilities behind the project, PPL and PSEG.The plan was submitted on the last day of the public comment period and therefore not subject to public comment.$56 million would go to land acquisitions, but you cannot mitigate for the destruction of a National Park.This project will ruin the breathtaking vistas and critical resources of our National Parks, diminishing the visitor experience and those impacts cannot be reversed.

"This is blood money that will not mitigate the impacts of the power line through the Park.It is to buy off other environmental groups and others with this slush fund paid for by the ratepayers that PSEG will still make a profit off of.The impacts this project will have on our public lands cannot be mitigated," said Jeff Tittel. The NPS approvals will have significant impacts outside the boundaries of the parks as well.The Highlands region and the historic and environmental resources of the Kittatinny Ridge communities will be impacted by this route selection.This decision will impact the health and safety of homeowners along the expanded right of way. The Susquehanna-Roseland line is unnecessary as we improve our energy efficiency and demand response programs and as energy demand drops.The line will bring dirty coal-fired energy into New Jersey while cutting across our public lands.The Susquehanna-Roseland line is a major infrastructure project that raises electricity rates, increases our dependence on fossil fuels, and does not increase grid reliability.This NPS announcement comes just weeks after the grid operator PJM announced the cancellation of two similar transmission expansion projects, the Mid Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) and the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH).The cancellation of the lines was based on falling demand, new generation plants, and the efficiency of demand response programs, the same issues opponents to the Susquehanna-Roseland line have raised.The power line would allow for the production of more coal power in Pennsylvania, polluting the air around the parks.

"We now need the courts to overturn this approval.We know this project will destroy our public lands and that the best option for our parks is to not build this polluting power line.NPS could not stand up to polluters to protect our parks.Now we need the courts to do the right thing, put politics aside, and defend our public lands from this inappropriate, destructive project," *said Kate Millsaps, conservation program coordinator , NJ Sierra Club*.

Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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