Who is PennEast?
The PennEast Pipeline is a proposed gas transmission project of six companies: UGI Utilities ($UGI), AGL Resources ($AGL), NJR Pipeline Company ($NJR), Public Service Enterprise Group ($PEG), South Jersey Industries ($SJI), and Spectra Energy ($SEP). The project has faced tremendous opposition from community groups, ratepayers, and landowners along the proposed route. Twenty-four townships in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have passed resolutions opposing the PennEast Pipeline and more are expected to pass resolutions in the near future. Residents and elected officials at all levels of government, including school districts, counties and conservation groups, have overwhelmingly called for the six companies financing the PennEast pipeline to drop the project.
This pipeline, if approved by FERC, would cut a 125-foot swath of permanent devastation for 114 miles, starting in Luzerne County PA and ending in Mercer County NJ. The effects of this pipeline would be devastating environmentally. The 36 inch, 1480 psi pipeline, targets tax payer paid for open space and preserved farmland because its cheaper and easier. New rights of way also create a new "pipeline super highway" for future pipelines and the pumping and compressor stations that can accompany them. Co-location is not acceptable. PennEast has proposed alternate co-located routes in both PA and NJ. This would mean that the pipeline would be located on existing right of way (ROW) already developed for the power grid. If existing electrical ROW is used for the pipeline route, pipelines can not be sited underneath electrical lines, thus the ROW must be widened an extra 100' or more. In some townships, the ROWs would be expanded to 450 feet.
Do We Need This Pipeline?
Where are all these homes that PE and its cohorts claim to be heating with these new projects? PE claims 4.7 million homes in NJ and PA. The Transco Leidy Loop claims 2 million for their project in Princeton. The TEAM 14 project, just approved by FERC, will add the equivalent of 2.8 million homes to its route which terminates in Lambertville NJ and Staten Island. A projected total of new local service to some 9.5 million homes just from these 3 projects. NJ and PA have two of the worst recoveries from the Great Recession and there are no housing or business booms that would qualify this kind of expansion. The 2013 Census shows a total of 3.5 million housing units in NJ, 80% of them already using natural gas. This market is saturated.
In its Resource Report 1, PennEast implied that the price spikes during last winter’s polar vortex were a new normal which requires increased capacity, when in fact the polar vortex was a statistical outlier and is deemed as such in industry analyses, making this claim invalid. The historic view of both the NJ delivery price and the spot price indicate that NG prices have been steadily dropping since 2008. PennEast further claimed an increased demand on the electrical grid thru 2040 to justify expansion, but their charts were poorly cited for determining how they were derived. Data from The American Climate Prospectus indicates that NJ and PA will experience a zero percent increase in electricity demand relative to 2012, through 2040.
The Environmental Costs
The proposed route would cross 88 waterways, many which are federally regulated C-1 blue line streams. Along with the risk to the Wild and Scenic Delaware, the project is proposed to cross 44 wetlands and 30 parks. 85% is proposed to cross through the Delaware watershed. It risks habitat destruction to endangered species such as Bald Eagles, Bobolinks, Harrier Hawks, Ospreys, Cormorants, Wood Turtles, Great Blue Herons, Bobcats, Long-tailed Salamander and much, much more. Townships along the proposed route regularly host cultural and art events that attract tourism from all over the tri-state area that reflect the history and cultural aspects of the region. The Delaware Valley Region area also offers a splendid opportunity for horseback riding, fishing, picnicking, hunting, cross-country skiing, photography, bird watching…or just a lovely, restful place to get away.
Siting of interstate pipelines is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Under federal rules, local governments are exempt from participating in the process and the pipeline companies can legally exercise the power of eminent domain. The time to fight the PennEast pipeline is NOW!