State Agency Voices More Concerns Over PennEast Pipeline Project

Tom Johnson | September 6, 2019 | Energy & Environment
Department of Environmental Protection asks PennEast to rectify omissions in its applications for a series of wetlands and flood hazard permits

Credit: NJTV News
Gas pipeline
Once again, the state Department of Environmental Protection has found permit applications by PennEast Pipeline to be deficient, dealing a new if only temporary setback to the project.

In a four-page letter to the company, DEP found its applications for a series of wetlands and flood hazard permits were lacking required information, with the agency giving PennEast 30 days to rectify the omissions.

The 120-mile project has encountered numerous delays in review of its proposal, which involves a $1 billion new pipeline beginning in Luzerne County, Pa., crossing the Delaware River in Hunterdon County and ending just outside of Trenton.

PennEast is one of the most controversial of nine new pipeline projects pending in New Jersey, most of which are intended to ship cheap natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formations in Pennsylvania to metropolitan and suburban markets in New Jersey.

The project has stirred enormous opposition on both sides of the Delaware River, crossing more than 100 waterways in both states. A wide array of environmental and public interest organizations also are pressing Gov. Phil Murphy to declare a moratorium on new fossil-fuel projects in New Jersey in light of his stated goal of having 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

PennEast is reviewing the agency’s letter and will quickly provide the data requested, according to Pat Kornick, a spokeswoman for the company, who added it is committed to working with the department as the review of its 24,000-page application moves forward.

Failure to meet environmental standards

Tom Gilbert, campaign director for Rethink Energy NJ, said it is not surprising PennEast’s application was deemed deficient, given the company’s track record. Its initial application was found wanting because homeowners along the route would not allow them on their property.

“PennEast will ultimately be rejected because it cannot meet New Jersey’s strict environmental standards,’’ Gilbert said.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, questioned whether the company will ever comply with the permit requirements. “Instead of going through another 30 days to fix a flawed permit, they should kick them out and start all over again,’’ he said.