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Sierra Club Files for Injunction on Power Line in Court

Date : Mon, 19 Aug 2013 16:39:06 -0400

For Immediate Release

August 19, 2013

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

Sierra Club Files for Injunction on Power Line in Court

Today the New Jersey Sierra Club joined other national and local environmental and citizen groups in filing a preliminary injunction to stop construction of the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line in three national park units.PSEG is scheduled to begin work in the Parks on September 3rd .This unnecessary project was inappropriately rubberstamped by NPS despite causing irreparable harm to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, eighth most visited park in the national park system, the Appalachian Trail, and the Middle Delaware River.Now Sierra Club and other groups, represented by Earthjustice and the Eastern Environmental Law Center, are turning to the courts to stop construction of the line as groups continue to challenge the project in the federal appellate court.This injunction is critical to protect our public lands from this devastating project that will destroy the scenic vistas and natural resources within our parks all to carry more polluting coal-fired power to eastern markets.This project undermines clean energy projects and puts more smog in our national parks.

"The Susquehanna-Roseland line will cause irreparable harm and permanent damage to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.This destruction cannot be mitigated and that is why we are seeking an injunction.We cannot allow one of the biggest violations of the public trust and the National Park Service to go forward.Since the Park Service said it will not protect the Park we have to.In the 150 years since our first National Park this is one of the worst decisions ever.If they can do it in here, Yellowstone or Yosemite could be next," said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club.

The Susquehanna-Roseland line will compromise the integrity of our National Parks. The environmental review of the line under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) found the project would cause $89 million in damage to the park.The ongoing litigation uncovered that the Department of the Interior accepted $60 million in mitigation money to approve the utility companies preferred route.Minutes from a meeting between utility officials and NPS and DOI staff brought forward as part of the appellate court challenge found NPS had originally designated the no build alternative as the environmentally preferred route and an alternative that would bring the line outside park boundaries as the preferred route.However at the meeting the record shows then DOI Secretary Ken Salazar demanded, "So here's the deal: I want $60 m
[million] and I want it now" for the project to be cited along the companies' preferred route through the park.The companies accepted the deal on the condition of the power line receiving completing its environmental review process by October 2012.

You cannot mitigate damages to our national parks, which are supposed to be preserved for future generations.The "No Build" Alternative is the only option that would prevent the destruction of resources both within and outside the park units and should have been selected by NPS to protect our parks from this project.

The minutes were uncovered as part of the groups appeal of the NPS project approval in DC District Court.The groups are challenging the mitigation package and the lack of a robust alternatives review by NPS.Non-transmission alternatives could obviate the need for the Susquehanna-Roseland line, especially energy efficiency and demand response.In December the grid operator ISO-New England announced that
$1.2 billion they have invested in energy efficiency from 2008-2011 reduced energy use by over 3500 gigawatt-hours and precluded the need for $260 million in transmission projects.These projects would make our grid more reliable while better protecting our environment.

Last year 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.

Especially in the wake of Sandy, smart grid and renewable energy projects should be at the forefront.Renewable energy systems are more resilient in major weather events.Solar systems fared well through Hurricane Sandy with minimal to damage reported and the Atlantic City wind farm did not suffer any damage.Earlier this year a new wind farm in Alaska continued to work through a 5.9 magnitude earthquake.

Instead PSEG is investing in transmission projects because they are guaranteed an 11.7% to 12.9% rate of return on projects such as the Susquehanna-Roseland line by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.In 2008 PSE&G spent $866 million on transmission; that investment will increase to $2.4 billion in 2014.

"We need this injunction to stop the destruction of our public lands for a project that serves no purpose.We were told without the power line in service by 2012 that there would be rolling brown outs and black outs, but this summer we were able to handle peak loads without those problems.We need the court approve this injunction especially as we continue to seek an appeal of the NPS approvals and demand that they look at non-transmission alternatives to this project as part of the environmental review process," said Kate Millsaps, conservation program coordinator.

_________________________________________________________ NJ-Sierra-Chapter-Ex-Committee List Info & Archives: http://lists.sierraclub.org/archives/NJ-EXCOM.html

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Received on 2013-08-19 13:39:06

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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Page Last Modified 8/19/2013

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