The Williams pipeline company have paid for a Rutgers study saying that the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project will generate economic activity in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Even though they say the project will directly and indirectly generate jobs, the amount of jobs are over-estimated, are only on a short-term, and most of the employment will be out-of-state workers. This project threatens Somerset and Middlesex Counties, as well as the Raritan Bay, but the report is bias because it fails to mention any negative environmental and economic impacts. Even worse is that the numbers are not based on facts and were not independently vetted, but simply calculated by Williams. This project will threaten communities, destroy important habitat and add pollution to waterways. We believe that the compressor station and pipeline could potentially create safety hazards for surrounding communities and disrupt environmentally sensitive land and waterways.
“This report was bought and paid for by Williams and done by Williams. All Rutgers did was put their name on it. There is nothing in this report that is factual nor was any of the figures independently researched. This report is a sellout by the type of fact-checking and independent work a university is supposed to do. All the data in the report all came from Williams and there is no way for an outside verification. With all of the alternative facts in this report that come out of thin air by the Williams company, this report is really ‘Trumpian.’ The only long-term jobs that will be created by this project are first responders when there is a leak or explosion. They are actually over-stating and over-estimating the positives of this project, while the ignoring the negative economic and environmental impacts,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “If there was actually an independent evaluation of this project, it would show it will actually harm the economy, not create any jobs, hurt the ratepayers, and harm the environment. It will actually be an overall negative for the environment and economy.”
In the report, Williams says, this project will create a certain amount of jobs, but they aren’t backing up their figures. They say “In New Jersey, the design and construction of the project will generate $239.9 million in additional economic activity (GDP), including 2,411 direct and indirect jobs during construction, $171.9 million in labor income and $16.4 million in local and state taxes.” They also claim that “Last year in Middlesex we paid $1.4 million in taxes. As a result of this project, it will increase by about $1 M. In Somerset we paid more than $1M last year, and as a result of this project, it will increase about $25,000 annually.” These figures are not independently researched and not backed up by any facts. There is also no basis or background documents, peer review, or outside numbers that didn’t come from a source other than Williams.
“What Williams is doing is putting out alternative facts because of all of the public opposition to the Transco’s NESE. This is not an independent analysis and doesn’t have any real justification behind the numbers they are pushing out. Since pipelines aren’t ratables, their claim that they will be paying more taxes after this pipeline are built doesn’t pass the straight face test. The problem is that they may be taking properties by eminent domain or purchasing them so there is no net gain in the tax base anyway. Rutgers put their name on this report, but Williams did the numbers. This is a shameful act for a state institution because the report does not meet any standard in academic research,” said Jeff Tittel. “What they aren’t accounting for is that this project will actually cost ratepayers money because utilities have been raising rates the more pipelines are approved that bring Marcellus Shale out of Pennsylvania.”
Given the environmental impacts alone, this project does not outweigh any temporary jobs created. Compressor stations create air pollution and water pollution by releasing toxic chemicals. These stations experience both scheduled and unscheduled blowdowns which release methane, ethane, MTBEs and other chemicals into the air. Other pollutants that have come from compressor stations include formaldehyde, propane, isobutene, cyclohexane, benzene, toluene, and other greenhouse gasses. High levels of these chemicals that come out of the compressor station via air and water pollution can directly affect public health, especially during construction. There is also concern about “fugitive emissions” which occur from leaks and get worse over time.
“The new study by Williams is only pushing more hot air to promote their pipeline. When Williams says this pipeline will create 3,000 jobs, they don’t give you the whole picture. They fail to mention that they will actually be bringing people in from out of state where the company is based like Oklahoma and Texas like they have seen with other projects. The construction jobs will only last one year, but the economic and environmental damage will be around for thirty years from this unnecessary pipeline. They try to say the jobs will be created by some workers getting a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts, but they aren’t doing a real analysis. Jobs will be created to manufacture the steel, but that will take place in Russia,” said Jeff Tittel. “What this report fails to mention is that the pipeline and compressor station will cause a loss in value in property, while people will need to pay additional property taxes for towns to hire and pay for more first responders and equipment.”
The Raritan Bay already suffers from too much pollution. We cannot risk contaminating it any more with this pipeline. This pipeline would bring natural gas across our state and our waterways. This gas is highly flammable and dangerous. An accident with this pipeline could contaminate our waterways and environment and put people at risk.
“Instead of being an independent college doing independent work, the university seems to be for sale. It is disgraceful that a university is willing to sell it integrity to the highest bidder. If they actually look at the real economics of the pipeline the negative financial impacts far outweigh any temporary and permanent jobs. What Rutgers should have analyzed is the increase runoff, pollution, health impacts, as well as the carbon footprint from this project. For a university that has made significant accomplishments in the study of sea level rise and climate change, it is a disgrace they have looked the other way at the real facts. What they should be doing is talking to the climate scientists to discuss the amount of greenhouse gases and climate impacts from this pipeline,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This report is not something that comes from a university, it comes from a consulting firm. What the report doesn’t mention is the economy of the region tourism, farming, fisheries and property are at risk. This report is full of more hot air than the pipeline.”