Adding the NESE natural gas pipeline project that starts in the fracking Marcellus Shale region in PA and then goes through the New Jersey-New York area is not needed. We are expecting FERC to be on the side of the corporate for-profit Williams/Transco who will be allowed at least a 14% return on the Project’s equity even though their claim of a need for more gas is truly questionable. They claim that it is needed to convert boilers in New York from oil to gas, but a report issued by NYC reveals that only a 6% increase in gas is needed by National Grid (who agreed to purchase the extra gas) to accomplish this. The NESE Project is planned to add 64% more gas for National Grid. For what?
Though we cannot count on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to stop the NESE Project, as noted below, we can stop the NESE Project by demanding that our State environmental agencies deny Williams/Transco the water quality permits that they need because the NESE Project is a threat to us now and, if built, for decades to come.
FERC Minimizes Damaging Environmental, Health & Safety Impacts
Many have alerted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) about their concerns with the NESE Project, but FERC responds to these with “yeah, but” … all damaging impacts will be temporary, short-term or minimal. For the NESE Project -
- FERC acknowledges that there will be methane leaks from natural gas pipelines.
- FERC acknowledges that there will be carcinogenic emissions from the compressor station.
- FERC acknowledges that construction will unearth toxins like arsenic, lead and PCBs that have been buried beneath the seabed of the Raritan Bay.
- FERC acknowledges that this Project will have an impact on climate change.
However, FERC minimizes these impacts that will harm our lives and the environment for centuries.
Even though there is still missing information, studies and agreements, FERC claims that completion of certain reports and studies can happen later due to “practicalities” because large projects such as these take considerable time and effort to develop, and project development is subject to many significant variables whose outcomes cannot be predetermined. This leaves the public in the dark.
Even though Williams/Transco has provided 11,386 pages of publically-viewable information to FERC after the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was released on March 23, 2018, in 16 supplements between May 11 & September 4, 2018 that included over 30 new reports, and many requests have been made for a supplemental EIS to account for this added information, FERC will likely say that they did not need to do a supplemental EIS unless the new information would (a) create significant new circumstances or (b) be relevant to environmental concerns. Predictably, they will write that there was no need for a supplemental EIS because they “identified” potential environmental consequences in their DEIS and that the new information did not add any new significant consequences.
Predictably, in their FEIS, they will list more environmental consequences to make sure that it is clear that they “considered” them, but these will not stop their approval process. They will list things that Williams/Transco needs to do to “minimize” environmental impacts. However, there is no guarantee that anything listed to “fix” damages to the environment and wildlife will happen or be effective.
- We are not expecting that FERC will protect us from the toxins that would end up in the water and on our beaches, in our mouths and on our skin when they publish their final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in January 2019.
- We are not expecting FERC to protect us from the release of poisonous formaldehyde and benzene along with smokestack exhaust at 849 degrees Fahrenheit from the compressor station.
- We are not expecting FERC to protect us from the increased greenhouse gas and potential fire/explosion impacts from methane leaks at the compressor station and in pipelines.
We anticipate that FERC will issue the Certificate of Public Convenience & Necessity in April 2019 since, in over 40 years, FERC has only rejected two gas pipeline projects, and this was because they did not have customers for the gas. The focus of FERC is on economics and not on the environment, our health or safety.
We cannot count on FERC to stop the NESE Project, but that is only one part of the permitting process.
For NESE to be constructed, Williams/Transco needs a Certificate of Public Convenience & Necessity from FERC, and thy need several water quality permits from the States. FERC will not authorize construction until all State permits are issued.
FERC approved the PennEast pipeline even though there was a great deal of missing information and significant environmental and economic concerns raised by local and State agencies. NJ’s Attorney General filed suit against FERC for issuing this certificate. PennEast still does not have all the permits needed from the NJDEP.
FERC approved the Atlantic Coast project even though they recognized high risks of landslides which, once construction started, actually happened. The Atlantic Coast pipeline has been ordered to stop construction for periods of time due to landslides caused by construction.
The list goes on and on.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) can stop this Project.
The NJDEP is currently reviewing NESE’s permit applications for water quality. Please see an upcoming letter to the editor about fact-finding meetings that the NJDEP will schedule about water permit applications for the NESE Project. The voices and words of many to the NJDEP are needed to stop this Project.