Contact: Ed Potosnak

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New Jersey already said no to a gas pipeline once. We must say no to NESE again | Opinion

Most of us have watched horror movies that hoodwink us into thinking that the villain was finally dead, only to realize right before the end that the villain is still alive and just won’t go away. There is still more work to be done to finally bring the nightmare to an end.

The Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, which would have brought dirty fracked methane gas from Pennsylvania to New York is like that villain that just won’t go away. If approved, the pipeline would cut across Central New Jersey and into the Raritan Bay, polluting the water and emitting 9 million metric tons per year of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases and exposing local residents to toxic fumes from its compressor.

We rejoiced last year when the New York Department of Environmental Conservation denied the permit, and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection= joined them in rejecting this unnecessary project. However, on March 19 of this year, Williams Transco asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for an extension to its May 3, 2019 Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. This means Williams Transco is trying to keep its dirty NESE project alive so it can rise from the dead in the future.

This project goes against all our efforts to move toward a 21st-century, renewable energy future. It would keep natural gas infrastructure in operation for 30 years or more, making the region dependent on dirty fossil fuels and delaying the transition to renewable energy sources. These 26 miles of pipeline and a new compressor will also threaten water, wildlife, and the safety and health of our communities.

In its most recent rejection of the proposal, the state DEP stated the “public need has not been demonstrated” and “Transco has failed to demonstrate that the proposed NESE Project would comply with the Freshwater Wetland Protection Act Rules at N.J.A.C 7:7A.”

Last year, the Eastern Environmental Law Center also released a report by Synapse Energy Economics showing that the NESE project is not needed. The report concluded that “National Grid has not shown that it faces a supply and demand gap. In fact, National Grid, the company that would use the pipeline, is expected to have a substantial surplus of supply capacity by 2034/35.”

Even National Grid stated in their May 8, 2020 “Natural Gas Long-Term Capacity Supplemental Report"

EditSign that other alternatives — including enhancements to existing infrastructure combined with incremental energy efficiency and the appropriated demand response measures – would be more than sufficient to achieve New York’s energy needs and better weigh the cost of environmental impacts.

Overwhelmingly, elected officials, scientists, residents and the state governments of New Jersey and New York agreed that NESE would be bad for our region and would move us in the wrong direction, yet like a bad loser, they won’t accept defeat.

We are asking FERC to let this certificate expire and the project die a timely death. In the past, FERC has granted permit extensions creating what has come to be called “zombie pipelines,” projects that continue to try to be built even after they’ve failed to meet the necessary legal requirements. FERC should acknowledge and respect New Jersey’s permit authority and deny the NESE permit extension request.

Communities from Somerset and Middlesex County to the Raritan Bay Shore along with New York City communities worked together to stop the NESE pipeline project, which would have included a 32,000-horsepower compressor station built-in Franklin Township and spewed pollution into neighboring communities. Towns up and down the Bay Shore and inland as far as Princeton passed resolutions opposing this project. Their local officials also took a stance showing their residents they care about the health and the environment in their communities.

I personally would live closer to the compressor station of this project than to my nearest grocery store. These kind of projects are extremely dangerous — especially because of our state’s dense population — and would only lead to a continuation of the environmental problems we have with air quality that Gov. Phil Murphy and his team are working to rectify.

New Jersey LCV has fought the NESE project since its introduction five years ago and collected over 5000 signatures and actions opposing the project. Together with our coalition partners we conducted dozens of demonstrations, informational meetings, and other forms of outreach to ensure that the public was aware and educated on the threats of this project. We’ll do it again if we have to.

It’s crucial that we let FERC know that we won’t stand for more unneeded fossil fuel pipelines in New Jersey. The following is information on how to contact FERC and say NO to NESE.

NESE’s latest filing:

FERC online comments page: