PennEast pulls plug on planned natural gas pipeline into NJ
TRENTON – PennEast has dropped plans to build a natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania through Hunterdon and Mercer counties, citing difficulties in obtaining environmental permits from New Jersey.
The cancelation of the roughly $1 billion, 116-mile pipeline ends a more than seven-year saga. It comes three months after the Supreme Court had decided the company could use eminent domain powers to seize property from the state and other landowners who refused to cooperate.
In a statement, PennEast spokeswoman Patricia Kornick cited the company’s inability to obtain permits under the Clean Water Act for the New Jersey portion of its project.
“Therefore, the PennEast partners, following extensive evaluation and discussion, recently determined further development of the project no longer is supported,” the company statement said. “Accordingly, PennEast has ceased all further development of the project.”
Gov. Phil Murphy said he was “very gratified by the decision.”
“This is one that has stuck out since before I was governor as incredibly egregious,” Murphy said. “The need was always questionable, but more importantly it would have ripped up preserved lands, private lands, some incredibly valuable ecosystems and done irreparable harm. And this one was just way out of bounds. … This one was bad. It would have just wrecked our state.”
The Sierra Club said the pipeline would have affected more than 88 waterways, 44 wetlands, 30 parks and 33 conservation easements and shipped fracked Marcellus Shale gas from northeast Pennsylvania.
“This is a big win for communities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that value clean air, clean water and a stable climate,” said Patrick Grenter, associate director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign. “PennEast would have threatened countless sensitive creeks and wetlands, while making us more dependent on fossil fuels at a time when we need to be urgently transitioning to clean energy.”
“We have been opposed to this unneeded PennEast project since day one,” said Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “This decision is a victory for all New Jerseyans who want to breathe clean air.”
“This will hopefully be the tipping point to stop other projects like Gibbstown and move us to a green economy,” said Jeff Tittel, former director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This victory shows the power of the people coming together unite in common purpose to fight climate change.”
New Jersey Business and Industry Association vice president of government affairs Ray Cantor said PennEast’s decision to drop the project was disappointing.
“The decision of PennEast is disappointing given the need for more natural gas in the region to meet our energy and reliability demands, but we understand they made a business decision,” Cantor said. “Hopefully, moving forward, we can have a rational discussion on the role natural gas and its infrastructure needs to play in order to meet our energy needs.”
Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.