FAR HILLS, NJ (April 11, 2017) – New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJ Conservation) and Stony Brook–Millstone Watershed Association (SBMWA) today called upon the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to reject applications for a Freshwater Wetlands Individual Permit (FWIP) and Water Quality Certificate (WQC) filed by PennEast Pipeline Company last week because the pipeline company doesn’t have the legal authority to make the request.
“By submitting this permit application, PennEast is asking NJDEP to ignore its own regulations in a rush to damage our land, pollute our air and water, and put our families at risk,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director, NJ Conservation. “NJDEP must reject PennEast’s latest attempt to steamroll its unneeded pipeline over New Jersey’s environmental protection laws.”
NJDEP said in a December 20, 2016 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that PennEast must complete surveys and analysis for its entire proposed pipeline route before applying for these state permits. In that letter, NJDEP noted that only 35% of the route had been surveyed. To date, PennEast still has not completed the majority of the surveys required for NJDEP to begin its review.
"PennEast thinks it can strong-arm NJDEP into issuing permits for a pipeline that threatens some of our state's most sensitive waterways and cherished natural resources," said Jim Waltman, executive director, SBMWA. “NJDEP must uphold its substantial responsibility to protect our environment, by rejecting this premature application.”
According to a letter filed on behalf of the two conservation groups, the Eastern Environmental Law Center (EELC) and the Columbia School of Law Environmental Law Clinic said that state laws require NJDEP to reject PennEast’s unauthorized applications for the FWIP and WQC, because PennEast does not have consent from many of the landowners along the proposed route to apply for the permits, and therefore lacks the legal authority to do so.
Jennifer Danis, senior attorney for EELC, said that PennEast attempted to mislead the NJDEP on the deadlines and options in its application, claiming that it must be reviewed within 90 days.
“FERC is not the environmental agency responsible for protecting our waters, and its determination of whether a project may be built according to the Natural Gas Act is subject to the substantive review by the states. This was a brazen attempt by PennEast to pressure and deceive NJDEP into deciding on permits before PennEast is legally allowed to apply for them, and far before it submits the required environmental data to NJDEP,” Danis said. “This shows PennEast’s total disregard for the rights reserved by the states under the Federal Clean Water Act.”
The letter that EELC sent to NJDEP today can be viewed here:http://rethinkenergynj.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/NJCF_SBMWA_Letter_to_NJDEP_PennEast_Permits_April_11_2017.pdf