Christie Administration Moves to Block Offshore Pipeline

Tom Johnson | November 18, 2010 | Energy & Environment
In a rare moment of accord, both the governor and most environmental groups oppose offshore liquefied natural gas facility

The Christie administration is backing up its opposition to a liquefied natural gas facility 16 miles off the New Jersey coast by seeking to intervene in the case before a federal agency.

A month after Liberty Natural Gas LLC filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build a pipeline to onshore facilities, the administration said it would contest the project, saying it is unnecessary for the state’s energy needs.

Gov. Chris Christie vowed to block the pipeline during his successful gubernatorial campaign. The project also has been opposed by most of New Jersey’s environmental groups, which view the plan as a step toward industrialization of the ocean.

Despite the opposition, Liberty Gas filed an application with the federal agency last month, seeking approval of the scheme. On October 14, 2010, Liberty filed with FERC an application for an onshore pipeline designed to carry up to 2.4 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas.

One Piece of the Project

The onshore pipeline is only one piece of the company’s proposed Liberty Natural Gas Project, which would entail the construction of a 9.2-mile onshore pipeline from Linden to Perth Amboy; a submerged pipeline running along the coastline; and a deepwater port approximately 16 miles off the coast of Asbury Park, where Liberty proposes to re-gasify liquefied natural gas (LNG) for transport onshore.

The project is one of several LNG facilities that have been proposed off the New Jersey coast, but all were submitted prior to the discovery of new natural gas supplies onshore in Pennsylvania and New York, which some analysts say make the project less feasible.

“My administration is taking action to move our State’s energy future forward in a positive way by promoting the development of new, innovative technology in the renewable energy industry. Natural gas is and will remain a piece of our state’s energy puzzle, but liquefied natural gas has not been shown to be a viable and needed piece of New Jersey’s energy plan, nor will it necessarily result in lower price for New Jersey families,” said Governor Christie. “As a result, I will not subject our State’s shore and economy to the environmental risks that are inseparable from such a project. From New Jersey’s perspective, this is simply not a workable project and I will exercise my authority to stop it.”

“New Jersey opposes Liberty’s proposed deepwater port, which is a crucial piece of their proposed project,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin.

“Governor Christie has repeatedly expressed his steadfast opposition to LNG facilities off New Jersey’s coastline, including his intention to use his veto authority under the Deepwater Port Act to prevent construction off our shore,” Martin said. “Without the deepwater port, the onshore pipeline is a bridge to nowhere. Its potential environmental and economic impacts on New Jersey are unacceptable.”

The City of Perth Amboy has also filed a motion to intervene on Liberty’s FERC application.