Contact: Ed Potosnak

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The defeat of the PennEast project is a long-awaited victory | Opinion

Those of us in the environmental movement were jumping for joy when we received the news that the PennEast Pipeline company had decided to cease development of the methane pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, an unneeded project New Jersey LCV had fought since day one.

According to the company, it pulled the plug on the project because it had not yet received all the required permits.

Although this is technically true, the real reason behind the pipeline’s defeat is that PennEast hit a brick wall of resistance built by homeowners, local elected leaders, environmentalists, the New Jersey Attorney General, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and Gov. Phil Murphy. Together, we stopped what would have been the highest pressure fracked gas pipeline in the state of New Jersey.

The proposed pipeline would have spanned 116 miles from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation, transporting fracked methane gas across the Delaware River and into New Jersey, and would have required condemnation of 42 parcels of Garden State-owned or controlled lands preserved with taxpayer dollars. The pipeline also would have had a blast zone of up to a half-mile. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country and the ramifications of an “incident” would have been horrific.

The PennEast project was unneeded and unwanted. This project would have damaged the lands and polluted the water in the impacted communities, and significant natural resources, historic sites, pristine protected streams and endangered species would have been at risk.

When the project was proposed seven years ago, few people thought it could be defeated but all of us who opposed it never gave up. Even recently when the United States Supreme Court sided with PennEast in a 5-4 decision that stated PennEast could use eminent domain to seize land needed to construct the pipeline, challengers didn’t give up.

We organized, tabled in the rain, protested with signs over our heads, intervened, Twitter stormed, bird-dogged elected officials, wrote to NJDEP, testified at hearings, wrote letters, made phone calls, went to Washington, D.C. to talk with congressional leaders, spread the word on social media and just plain showed up whenever and wherever we could. As the New Jersey LCV Campaigns Director, Patty Cronheim, who was on the frontlines of fighting the PennEast pipeline recently said, “The communities in the pipeline’s path rallied, and never stopped making their voices heard.”

The defeat of the PennEast project is a time to celebrate, but the fight isn’t over. There are other pipeline projects pending in the state and across the country that we must continue to fight against. These pipelines carry fossil fuels and are dangerous. New Jerseyans don’t need the damage to our water and lungs and to our clean water, wildlife, and the safety and health of local communities that projects like PennEast would bring.

We’re in a unique moment where we have leadership at the national and state levels ready to take major action to mitigate the impacts of climate change and move us toward a clean energy future that will create good, local union jobs.

Governor Murphy continues to fight polluters and protect our environment. During this legislative session, he signed into law some of the most notable legislative accomplishments. They include eliminating many single-use plastics and protecting our waterways and ecosystems through the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. He also signed one of the most ambitious electric-vehicle bills in America, which provides incentives for purchasing electric vehicles by offering up to $5,000 in rebates, and sets the stage for a massive public fast-charging network, and for NJ Transit to fully electrify all buses by nearly 2040.

We’re also excited about the new comprehensive environmental justice law, to address environmental racism and reduce pollution in overburdened communities. We congratulate the environmental justice advocates that led the charge for over a decade on this public health equity issue.

New Jersey LCV has endorsed Governor Murphy, who earned an “A” for environmental protection according to our rigorous evaluation, and we believe a vote for him is a vote for the environment and preserving our beautiful state for our children and grandchildren. We also recently released our 2021 Legislative Scorecard, which grades each member of the New Jersey Legislature on their voting record.

When you go to the polls this Nov. 2, remember who’s fighting for clean air, safe drinking water, and open space. It’s no longer just a nice thing to do. It really is a matter of life and death.