ROSELAND, NJ – Representatives of Roseland Against the Compressor Station (RACS), New Jersey Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch and 350NJ were accompanied by Roseland Mayor James Spango, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. and other local representatives on Thursday afternoon to join in a protest against the Williams Transco Gateway Expansion Project in Roseland.
Previous Coverage: Hundreds Attend Roseland Gateway Expansion Project Public Hearing
As a united front, elected officials and environmentalists from the area gathered at the Essex County Environmental Center in Roseland to request that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) reconsider its decision to approve two wetlands permits on the grounds—insisting that the proposed expansion project will have detrimental effects on the wetlands area.
In a joint statement, Spango and Roseland Council President Chris Bardi said that the governing body is “genuinely concerned for the health and safety of [Roseland] residents.”
“The additional risks and environmental impacts that the expansion of this already underutilized compressor station brings outweigh the benefit to our community and our residents,” they said. “We urge our residents to get informed, get involved and continue to fight the expansion of this project. The Roseland mayor and council are here to support you and fight for your best interests.”
On behalf of the county, DiVincenzo also spoke against the project, stating that Essex County is a “densely populated area” and that its residents should be doing everything they can to “protect the environment, preserve open space and enhance the quality of life and protect the safety of our residents.”
“The compressor station is already located in a vulnerable area and the expansion of the facility will impact our environment and potentially increase flooding,” said DiVincenzo. “We respectfully ask that the NJDEP reconsider its decision about granting the permits.”
Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura was also on hand at Thursday’s protest to ask that the NJDEP reconsider the permits, stating that if these efforts are successful, it will minimize the amount of danger to the local communities.
Also in attendance were Assemblywoman Mila Jasey and Essex County Freeholders Patricia Sebold, Romaine Graham and Len Luciano, who all expressed their support of the appeal and the need to protect the environment and public safety.
“Williams/Transco’s proposal to more than double the horsepower of the Roseland compressor station should never have been approved—and that is why both the federal and state permits have been appealed by the town of Roseland, RACS and state environmental groups,” said Ted Glick or RACS and 350NJ.
Glick explained that doubling the horsepower is “wildly out of sync with the amount of new gas they say will be sent through it.” He also said that this would increase safety risks for those living and working nearby and negatively affect air and water quality.
Matthew Smith, senior organizer with Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Action, also called upon Gov. Phil Murphy and the NJDEP to reconsider and reject the “Gateway Expansion Project,” stating that if Murphy wants to accomplish his own climate and clean energy goals, he “must take immediate action to halt dirty, dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuel expansion projects like the Roseland compressor station.”
“There is no way to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while approving new polluting projects that will increase those emissions,” said Smith. “The governor can protect the health and safety of Roseland and all our New Jersey communities while establishing himself as a national leader on climate change by enacting an immediate moratorium on all fossil fuel expansion projects.”
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said that by granting permits for the Roseland compressor station, the NJDEP “sided with dirty power and dirty water.”
“The DEP was wrong in granting these permits based on their own rules as well as violating the public trust,” he said. “The compressor station will lead to increased flooding and water pollution in an area with too much of both. We have called on DEP to rescind those permits and have appealed the permits.”
Tittel went on to explain why the Roseland compressor station is dangerous to the health, safety and environment of anyone living near it. He stated that it sits in a flood plain of the Passaic River, which is “one of the most flood-prone rivers in the country,” he said.
“Filling in wetlands will increase flooding,” said Tittel. “Industrial runoff including metals such as chromium, volatile organic chemicals and oil will be released into the river.
“DEP said the station will cause temporary disturbance to the buffer, but there is no such thing. The project will cause permanent damage, cutting down trees and removing wetlands that act as natural storm barriers and water filters. Increased flooding will impact properties and drinking water intakes. An explosion or leak would threaten communities, destroy important habitat and add pollution to the waterways.”
According to the groups involved at Thursday’s protest, the first permit being appealed would allow Williams Transco to construct a new bridge and driveway and disturb about half an acre of land for use as temporary workspace. The second permit being appealed would allow the pipeline company to temporarily use another half-acre parcel for construction and equipment storage, staging, parking and mobile office space.
The group is arguing that the disturbance of the wetlands, whether it is permanent or temporary, will result in the removal of trees, change the soil, hydrology and land use of the area, result in additional flooding and negatively impact the Passaic River ecosystem. In addition, the compressor station itself poses a public safety risk because of the toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases released from the facility.