Angry About PennEast Project, Opponents Rally Outside PSEG Offices

One foe of proposed natural-gas pipeline calls the 118-mile project an ‘ecological scar across our lands’

Stepping up their opposition, foes of a proposed natural-gas pipeline that would cut through portions of Hunterdon and Mercer counties yesterday targeted one of the sponsors of the more than $1 billion project.

In a protest held in Trenton, outside the offices of Public Service Enterprise Group, opponents called on PSEG to withdraw its week-old application to build the 118-mile pipeline before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

One of a dozen new pipeline projects under consideration in the state, PennEast is provoking perhaps the most vehement criticism. In part, that is because the its route crosses through state parks, thousands of acres of preserved farmland and open space, and wetlands and numerous streams, including under the Delaware River.

“We’ll do whatever we have to to stop the PennEast project,’’ said Maya von Rossum, head of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, at the noontime rally.

“We hold these corporate partners responsible,’’ said Jeff Tittel, speaking about PSEG, an organization with a reputation as a forward-looking energy company cognizant of the problems posed by climate change.

“You can’t be a clean-energy company if you are supporting fracking,’’ Tittel said, referring to the practice of drilling for natural gas by injecting huge amounts of water into shale formations. “You can’t be a clean-energy company if you are undermining energy efficiency (programs).’’

Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, agreed. “If PSEG supports action to reduce climate change, they shouldn’t be extending fossil fuels’ footprint all through Hunterdon and Mercer counties and tearing an ecological scar across our lands,’’ he said.

[related]A spokesman for PSEG defended the pipeline, saying it will provide greater access to lower-cost natural gas to customers of Public Service Electric & Gas, the company’s utility.

“Since 2009, residential gas-heating bills are down 47 percent because of the lower cost of natural gas,’’ said Michael Jennings, a spokesman for PSEG. An economic analysis showed that New Jersey families and businesses would have saved more than $375 million last winter had the pipeline already been operational, Jennings said.

But David Pringle, New Jersey campaign director of Clean Water Action, said the last thing the state needs is another new pipeline. “PennEast would destroy open space and property rights, pollute our water, and exacerbate the climate crisis,’’ Pringle said.

Jennings said the company tried to minimize the impacts by allowing the line to run through land it already owns.

Besides PSEG Power, the other partners in the project include NJR Pipeline Co., SJI Midstream, AGL Resources, Spectra Energy Partners, and UGI Energy Services.

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