By Brenda Flanagan
A couple dozen protesters marched from the State House, chanting their objections to the proposed PennEast Pipeline. The 36-inch-wide underground pipeline would carry a billion cubic feet of compressed natural gas every day– from fracking operations in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation — along a 118-mile corridor that crosses the Delaware River and then runs southwest in New Jersey, through what protesters called preserved farms and forests.
“They don’t care about our environment, about our communities, about our kids, about our families, about our creeks, rivers, forests and farmlands. They have made clear they are going to try to pass this pipeline thru no matter what it takes,” said Delaware Riverkeeper Maya Van Rossum.
“The DEP better do its job and not permit this pipeline. We’re also here today to tell the governor we don’t need another fracking’ pipeline in this state. We got too many of them,” said NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel.
The six utility companies that comprise PennEast include PSE&G and South Jersey Gas. They filed a formal application last week with FERC — the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — and produced a website and videos promoting the $1 billion project. It emphasizes the proximity of the Marcellus Shale’s abundant natural gas supply.
“Of having over four trillion cubic feet of natural gas sitting this close to market, this is unprecedented. It’s never been the case before, the ability to take advantage of that proximity to gas is why these companies are participating in this project,” said UGI Services, Peter Terranova.
PennEast says the pipeline will create 12,000 jobs, boost the economy and improve the flow of natural gas into the region.
“One of the things that’s going to happen from this project is consumers and businesses operating in this region are gonna benefit, and benefit from lower energy prices,” said Drexel University Associate Professor Paul Jensen.
“It will improve the economy of New Jersey,” said NJ State Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Bracken. “And it’s going to be done in a very safe, clean environmentally friendly way by partners who’ve had more than 400 years of safe and reliable energy delivery.”
Proponents claim the technology is safe and say PennEast will work to minimize any environmental impact by keeping the pipeline’s footprint as narrow as possible. Only 10 feet across in wetlands. But many towns along the pipeline’s path have voted in principle against its construction.
The current strategy is to try to block the pipeline by denying PennEast access to property that it needs to survey for environmental impact. PennEast is looking for alternative rights of way to survey.