Contact: Ed Potosnak

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FERC made a bad call for NJ on extending the Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline | Opinion

It’s deeply disappointing to see the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approve Williams Transco’s request for an extension of a certificate to build the Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline. NESE continues to be unneeded and poses a threat to New Jersey communities and the environment.

We celebrated last year when the Murphy Administration’s Department of Environmental Protection rejected Williams Transco’s request to move forward with the NESE pipeline project because it did not meet New Jersey requirements to protect our drinking water and environment. The new pipeline would bring dirty fracked methane gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey to New York and a new 32,000-horsepower compressor station in Franklin Township would spew pollution into neighboring towns.

FERC should have respected New Jersey’s permit authority and denied the NESE permit extension request. In the past, FERC has liberally granted permit extensions creating what has come to be called "zombie pipelines" — projects that companies continue to try to build even after they’ve failed to meet the public health and environmental legal requirements — and it looks like history is repeating itself.

Communities  — from Somerset and Middlesex counties to the Raritan Bay Shore, and inland as far as Princeton — worked together and passed resolutions opposing the project. I was especially grateful because I would live closer to the compressor than my nearest grocery store.

However, William Transco won’t take no for an answer. The company recently asked FERC to extend a certificate that the agency had granted prior to New Jersey’s rejection. This means Williams Transco is trying to keep its NESE project alive. 

My neighbors, fellow New Jersey residents, nor I need the damage to our water and lungs that would come from the NESE pipeline. In addition to the damage done to our clean water, wildlife, and the safety and health of local communities, projects like NESE delay the much-needed transition to our clean energy economy in New Jersey. 

Energy experts agree that moving forward with the NESE is a bad idea. Last year, the Eastern Environmental Law Center released an expert report by Synapse Energy Economics showing that the NESE project isn’t necessary. In fact, National Grid, the company that would use the pipeline, stated in its Natural Gas Long-Term Capacity Supplemental Report

EditSign that other alternatives — including enhancements to existing infrastructure combined with incremental energy efficiency — would be more than sufficient to achieve New York’s energy needs.

Fortunately, we finally have leadership in Washington, D.C. that is in step with what these and other scientific experts have been saying for quite some time. The Biden-Harris Administration’s America Jobs Plan is a bold economic recovery plan centered on workers, justice, and climate action. Gov. Phil Murphy, along with over a thousand other elected officials across the United States recently signed a letter asking Congress to pass the plan — and here’s why: 

  • The American Jobs Plan would put the U.S. on the path to 100% clean energy, powering everything from our electricity grid, transportation, and buildings with reliable, affordable clean energy. 

  • It would promote equity by ensuring at least 40% of benefits go to the communities who need it most, prioritizing just and equitable solutions being led by low income and communities of color most harmed by toxic pollution and climate change.

  • And the American Jobs Plan would incentivize high-quality, good-paying union jobs, especially in the domestic clean energy and manufacturing sectors, while supporting communities historically reliant on oil, gas, and coal jobs.

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 save the planet for future generations. The last thing we need are more projects like NESE that will continue the pollution that’s creating scorching summers, uncontrollable wildfires, frequent hurricanes, flooding, and more.

The New Jersey League of Conservation Voters and our partners opposed the NESE project from the beginning. Thousands of New Jersey residents came together for demonstrations, to attend informational meetings and send letters and sign petitions. We will continue to be vigilant and persistent.