So am I! For nearly two years, I’ve been involved in efforts to stop the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, and I’ve been off-put by exaggerations, half-truths, twists to evidence, omitted or ignored evidence, political plays, and more that has been put forth by both sides – those who want this pipeline and compressor station to be built and those who don’t want it.
- Does natural gas replacement of heating oil improve air quality and ozone levels, or does the leaking of methane from natural gas pipelines & compressor stations make it worse?
- Does fracked gas include radon as it travels to homes?
- Do standards for chemical air emissions truly protect our health?
- Is it safe to operate a gas-fired compressor station next to a quarry that uses dynamite to blast rock and a Superfund Site with contaminated groundwater?
There are studies and “facts” about these questions that are pushed by both sides and, in the end, it’s not easy to determine what is real and what is gaslighting. Much has not been studied, and much is not made public. However, protecting our community now and for future generations is important, and there is enough information about risks to cause concern about Compressor Station 206 and the pipeline slated to go through wetlands, toxic sites, and under the Raritan Bay.
I’ve decided that what matters are things I can rely on as facts:
- There are accidents and explosions at natural gas pipelines and compressor stations.
- Leaks of pipelines are more frequent than expected.
- The chemicals that are sent into the air from gas-fired compressor stations can travel miles away and are strongly correlated to increases in significant health problems for people, including cancer.
- There is a push to build more pipelines because there’s an abundance of natural gas being fracked in the Marcellus Shale region in Pennsylvania.
Companies that get federal approvals but still have not received permits for meeting air and/or water quality standards from states have the right to cut down trees along proposed pipeline paths or lots for compressor stations as long as they don’t disturb the trees’ roots. Without moving the earth, it’s not considered to be “construction”. The cutting of trees has happened before a state ultimately denied the water permits needed to proceed with actual construction. For example, a family lost their maple tree farm because the federal agency issued a certificate that allowed for cutting the trees down before it was known if the state would issue the water quality permits.
We’ve all heard stories about fluid leaks that contaminate waterways, groundwater and wells. Many of us remember the natural gas pipeline explosion in Durham Woods in Edison, NJ. Accidents do happen, and people who live or work in the area suffer the consequences.
In the end, I’m convinced that the process for granting permits to build and operate natural gas pipelines and facilities does not protect us and does not consider the true costs of operating such things. The companies talk about short-term temporary jobs and tax revenues, but these are not verified.
- There is no true assessment of the cost from damage that occurs from health problems, fires, explosions, fluid leaks, and lost revenue of businesses during construction.
- There is no true assessment of the damage to the environment as well as costs from increased severe weather events.
- There is no true assessment of the cost to the fishing and recreation industries along the Raritan Bay from digging up and spreading toxins that kill or injure marinelife and their habitats a well as harm water quality.
Years of efforts to clean up the Raritan Bay and Lower New York Harbor should be protected and not endangered by building another long pipeline there. The toxic contaminants are buried lower in that seafloor, and they should not be dug up to build a pipeline.
The companies reap the profits, and we are left with decades of air pollution, threats to our environment and health, and potentially increased energy costs with decreased property values.
One explosion is one too many. One unexplained cancer, kidney failure, heart attack, birth defect or developmental delay is one too many.
There are better ways! Focusing on increasing energy efficiency and renewable sources would not put us in harm’s way like natural gas pipeline and compressor stations do. I’m not saying that the drilling, processing, transportation and use of natural gas are the main culprits of climate change, but I am saying that we can do something now to protect ourselves and future generations from threats that are real.
Please contact the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) now and ask that they deny the Freshwater Wetlands permit application of Williams/Transco for the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project by June 22, 2018. They need to hear from a lot of us! When you call, it takes a few minutes, and the staff people who answer the phone are very polite. All you need to do is give your name, town and phone number, and say that you want the NJDEP to deny the Freshwater Wetlands permit by June 22. Call Commissioner McCabe directly at 609-292-2885, or call the Governor at 888-724-8943 to be connected to his office to also ask for his support in rejecting the permit applications.