We should not be asked to support profits of a company over risks of catastrophic harm to future generations.
Building natural gas pipelines and compressor stations only benefit the companies doing so. Damages to our air, soil, water and health from their investments are not thoroughly considered by agencies who decide whether or not a project can be built and operated because they rely on “standards” that are not truly protective of the environment or our health.
“Mistakes” like using unauthorized construction methods, not following company procedures, spilling/leaking fluids, or not fixing weakened pipes or their welds in time to prevent an explosion, happen often. Williams/Transco, the company proposing the NESE Project, has had many failures resulting in damages to lives and the environment. What are the consequences of these accidents/mistakes? Usually, the companies are not fined significant amounts of money, but the people and the nearby environment suffer for years into the future.
Pipelines installed in the 2000’s have been failing at rates that match or exceed those that were built in the 1940’s. Who checks to make sure that pipelines are not in danger of cracking or exploding? It’s supposed to be done by the company that built them and the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) which is understaffed. Accidents keep happening, and this leads to lost lives, injuries, property damage or destruction, and damage to the environment.
Continued reliance on fossil fuels for energy does contribute to increases in Greenhouse Gases which are a factor in sea level rise, warmer air, warmer water, droughts, floods, wildfires, severe weather events and increased ozone. All of these effects are linked to health and economic damages. Pipelines and compressor stations leak methane, a significant contributor to our current climate issues.
Reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and methane would very likely save billions in global GDP, and the savings from non-market benefits of reduced fossil fuel use (for human health and the ecosystem) would add to this benefit. However, these are not considered as part of the permitting process for projects like the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE). A true cost-benefit analysis should include these as well as costs associated with a rapid and huge shift to a low-carbon global economy and the possibility of catastrophic changes that could result from melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica that could substantially lift sea levels. This is a huge task that is beyond what we, the general citizens can do now.
However, we can do things to help reduce Greenhouse Gases to improve the quality of our lives and those of future generations. Some beneficial actions are pushing energy efficiency, increasing use of renewable energy sources, reducing food waste, eating less meat, protecting tropical forests, and supporting the education of girls around the world. Some of these may not fit with our personal preferences but here, in Central Jersey, we can make our voices known to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) that we oppose the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE) proposal for pipeline in Old Bridge & Sayreville as well as under the Raritan Bay (through and near Superfund Sites) and a natural gas-fired compressor station in Franklin Township on land between a quarry where dynamite blasting will continue until 2040, a Superfund Site with contaminated groundwater, and the NJ Buddhist Vihara.
The NJDEP is still reviewing applications from Williams/Transco for Freshwater Wetlands, Flood Hazard Area, Coastal Wetlands, and Waterfront Development permits. The NJDEP needs to make a decision by June 22 about whether or not to deny the Freshwater Wetlands permit. If NJDEP does not deny the permits soon, then FERC can determine that the NJDEP waived their right to be the decision-maker, and Williams/Transco would be granted a waiver for these required permits.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Call the NJDEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe at 609-292-2885 and tell her that you want the NJDEP to deny the water permits for the NESE Project promptly.
Sign and mail the attached letter to NJDEP within the next two weeks.
Let Governor Murphy know that you want him to continue protecting our health and environment by making sure that the NJDEP does all that they can to deny the water permits for the NESE Project before mid-June. Call 609-292-6000 and say that you want to leave a message for the governor.
Accidents keep happening: