PennEast Reaches Major Milestone, Plans to Submit New Application to DEP

Tom Johnson | August 7, 2019 | Energy & Environment
The controversial 120-mile pipeline has wrapped up all outstanding land surveys, completing a step that kept it stalled for more than a year

Credit: NJTV News
Gas pipeline
PennEast Pipeline expects to submit a new application to the state Department of Environmental Protection this month, setting the stage for what might be the pivotal decision in whether the 120-mile project moves forward.

In a quarterly earnings call by New Jersey Resources, one of the sponsors of the $1 billion project, it announced all of the land surveys involving the pipeline have been completed, a step that has delayed the proposal from moving forward for more than a year.

To win approval for the one-third segment that runs through New Jersey, PennEast needs to prove the pipeline will not violate federal water-quality standards, and that it complies with other state regulations governing flood hazards, stormwater, and endangered species.

Pat Kornick, a spokeswoman for PennEast, said the company expects to submit an application to the DEP this summer. “An extensive team of engineers, environmental scientists and other experts are in the process of analyzing field-level survey data that will enable PennEast to submit the Freshwater Permit application to the NJDEP this summer,’’ she said.

PennEast is one of the most controversial of up to nine pipeline projects that are pending in New Jersey, most of which have been proposed to ship cheap natural gas from Pennsylvania to customers in the Garden State. Lower natural-gas costs have lowered electricity costs for consumers and led to steep drops in home-heating prices for customers relying on that fuel.

Another controversial pipeline project through parts of the New Jersey Pinelands also won some key approvals this month. New Jersey Natural Gas, a subsidiary of NJR, received road-opening permits for its 30-mile Southern Reliability Link through parts of Burlington County.

The permits are the last of the major approvals for the project, according to the company. The project is about half completed, according to executives, who hope to complete construction by 2020.

The project is moving forward even though litigation involving it is still pending in the courts. Environmental groups opposing the project plan to hold a press conference today in Plumstead calling for Gov. Phil Murphy to impose a moratorium on all new fossil-fuel projects.