FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - The Williams' Northeast Supply Enhancement project reached a major milestone Friday, March 23, thanks to the release of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's draft Environmental Impact Statement

The NESE project would have “less than significant levels” of impact on the environment in Franklin Township, according to FERC. 

“This draft Environmental Impact Statement is a significant milestone for the project," Christopher Stockton, spokesperson for Williams/Transco said in a prepared statement. "Since this proposal was first introduced in 2016, we have worked diligently to identify potential environmental issues or concerns, incorporating adjustments to the project design to avoid or minimize impacts. We believe that the draft EIS positively reflects our efforts to collaborate with stakeholders to design this project in an environmentally responsible manner.”

Sign Up for E-News

Many local residents who have been paying close attention to the project would beg to differ.

Opposition to the project has also seen bi-partisan support. Lifetime Franklin resident State Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-LD-17), and Senator Kip Bateman (R-LD-16) have both expressed concerns. 

"We are going to continue to press the current administration in Trenton and the DEP to really analyze and review all the draft studies, and to show that this is not the best idea and there are still many concerns remaining," Wayne Dibofsky, Danielsen’s Chief of Staff, said during a phone call to TAPinto Franklin Township. 

"I'm very concerned about the detrimental effects that this pipeline and compressor station would have on our air, the Raritan Bay, and the health of the people of New Jersey. It would have unacceptable and irreparable impacts on our communities." Bateman said in a statement. 

Related articles: 

Councilwoman and Task Force Discuss Potential Dangers of Proposed Gas Compressor Station

Danielsen Promoting Bill Seeking Reduction in Environmental Impact to Local Residents

If the project is approved by FERC, NESE will consist of approximately 10 miles of 42-inch pipeline looping facilities in Pennsylvania, three miles of onshore 26-inch looping facilities in New Jersey, 23 miles of offshore 26-inch looping facilities, the addition of 21,902 horsepower at an existing compressor station in Pennsylvania; a new gas powered 32,000-horsepower compressor station (Compressor Station 206) in Franklin; and related appurtenant facilities, according to Williams/Transco.

The purpose of the project is to supply more natural gas to customers in New York City and Long Island. National Grid, who asked Williams for the loop to bring more natural gas into the region, serves those people.

NESE is projected to generate millions in economic activity, jobs to the region and new state and local tax revenue, according to Williams/Transco. Local township officials and administrators have expressed concerns with the project. 

The Township Council endorsed a resolution last March saying the council "opposes the construction and operation of a compressor station on the preferred site or on any other site in and around Franklin Township as it would have severe detrimental impacts on the residents, visitors, wildlife, recreation, businesses and landscape of the area."

Township Manager, Bob Vornlocker sent a letter to Senator Cory Booker last month requesting FERC conduct a health impact assessment (HIA). In turn, Booker's office sent a letter to FERC Chairman, Kevin J. McIntyre earlier this month requesting FERC review the letter and respond directly to the township. HIA is a process that helps evaluate the potential health effects of a plan, project, or policy before it is built or implemented, according to the CDC's website

FERC's DEIS says, "given adherence to Transco’s proposed measures as well as our additional recommendations, and compliance with state and federal air permit conditions, we conclude that potential air impacts associated with the project would be adequately minimized and that a health impact assessment for a facility of the size and impact of Compressor Station 206 is not warranted."

Lawyers at Eastern Environmental Law Center (EELC) have stated that the DEIS is a poor start to what should be a comprehensive review, according to a news release. EELC attorney Will Bittinger said in a news release. “There’s a lot of compelling evidence that the human health and environmental impacts from NESE are significant. It’s one thing to have all these impacts if the project is truly in New Jersey’s interest, and an effort has been made to eliminate or minimize the impacts. But several communities and experts have concluded that’s just not the case on this project.”

Township residents concerned with the project will have an opportunity in the coming weeks to learn more about the project.  

"It’s more important than ever for residents to raise their concerns about the dangerous compressor station proposed in Franklin Township that will spew toxins into the air and threatens public health," Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, Ed Potosnak said. "FERC has a history of candy coating the environmental impacts of projects, and this draft EIS is no exception. Make no mistake about it, if built we will have major air quality threats."

Members of the public for and against the project have four ways to express their concerns:

1) You can file your comments electronically using the eComment feature on the Commission’s website (www.ferc.gov) under the link to Documents and Filings

2) You can file your comments electronically by using the eFiling feature on the Commission’s website (www.ferc.gov) under the link to Documents and Filings. With eFiling, you can provide comments in a variety of formats by attaching them as a file with your submission. New eFiling users must first create an account by clicking on “eRegister.” If you are filing a comment on a particular project, please select “Comment on a Filing” as the filing type; or 

3) You can file a paper copy of your comments by mailing them to the following address. Be sure to reference the Project docket number (CP17- 101-000) with your submission: 

Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 

888 First Street NE, Room 1A Washington, DC 20426

4)  FERC will host public comment sessions in the project area to receive comments on the draft EIS, scheduled as follows:

  • April 25, 2018, 5-9 p.m., George Bush Senior Center 1 Old Bridge Plaza Old Bridge, NJ 08857
  • April 26, 2018, 5-9 p.m., Best Western Gregory Hotel 8315 4th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11209
  • May 2, 2018, 5-9 p.m., Franklin Township Community Center 505 Demott Lane Somerset, NJ 08873
  • May 3, 5-9 p.m., Solanco High School 585 Solanco Road Quarryville, PA 17566

FERC has established September 17, 2018 as the date for its planned issuance of the final EIS for the project. The subsequent 90-day federal authorization decision deadline is set for December 16, 2018. 

Members of the Franklin Township Task Force are encouraging members of the public to attend their next meeting to learn more about the project prior to the May 2, public hearing. The FTTF's monthly meeting will be held Apr. 2, at the municipal building at 8 p.m.

"FERC skimmed over concerns about risks and missing data/studies raised by citizens," FTTF member, Barbara Cuthbert said. "Without substantiating their claims that the construction and operation of NESE would minimally or insignificantly impact the health and safety of the environment, people and wildlife, they basically dismissed the risks."

Editor's note: This story has been updated based on information provided by the EELC. 

TAPinto Franklin Township is independently owned and operated by  Malik A. Lyons FHS Class of 93’ Graduate. 

Visit and read your exclusive Franklin news at TAPinto Franklin Township  24/7 for FREE: TAPintoFranklinTownship.net.

Sign Up for E-News to get top stories delivered daily to your inbox. 

Download the FREE TAPinto App!  Click here for Android - Click here for iOS to get news as it is happening.