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Bonnie Watson Coleman Declares Opposition to Proposed PennEast Pipeline in Letter to Feds

watsoncolemanState Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) has sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission maintaining her opposition to a pipeline project proposed by the PennEast Pipeline Company that would run through Hunterdon County to Mercer County.

PennEast wants to build a 105-mile long, $1 billion pipeline to transport natural gas from Luzerne County, Pa., to Mercer County, N.J. The pipeline would pass through Holland, Alexandria, Kingwood, Delaware Township, West Amwell and Hopewell.

Watson Coleman said the proposed pipeline would adversely and permanently affect critical forest and water resources that provide essential habitat and other natural resource services to my constituents and to the economy and environment of the entire state of New Jersey.

“As currently proposed, the project will disrupt, fragment, or otherwise impair forests, farmland, wetlands, streams, and other valuable resources on private and public lands along its 105-mile path,” Watson Coleman said. “Many of these lands were acquired or protected at taxpayer expense with the legal requirement that they be permanently protected. Indeed, the proposed pipeline appears cynically routed to maximize the use of these sensitive public trust resources, ostensibly to reduce the cost and opposition inherent in routing through privately held or already developed areas.”

Watson Coleman said the proposal disregards the availability of alternate routes using existing utility rights-of-way and disregards the cumulative impact of multiple other pipeline projects proposed or under construction across New Jersey, “projects that make this new pipeline through mostly undisturbed natural and agricultural areas completely unnecessary.”

PennEast Pipeline officials this week  indefinitely postponed a presentation they were scheduled to give at the Mercer County freeholders. The company requested that the meeting be postponed because it is still gathering the information it will need to address many of the questions it expects to receive.  The company is planning to announce dates and locations of open houses that will provide opportunities to address issues one-on-one with company representatives.

 

Watson Coleman’s Letter:

October 6, 2014

Honorable Cheryl A. LaFleur, Chair
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20426

Subject: PennEast Pipeline Proposal
Hunterdon County and Mercer County, New Jersey

Dear Ms. LaFleur:

I am writing to express my firm opposition to the pipeline proposed by the PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC, which would adversely and permanently affect critical forest and water resources that provide essential habitat and other natural resource services to my constituents and to the economy and environment of the entire state of New Jersey.

As currently proposed, the project will disrupt, fragment, or otherwise impair forests, farmland, wetlands, streams, and other valuable resources on private and public lands along its 105-mile path. Many of these lands were acquired or protected at taxpayer expense with the legal requirement that they be permanently protected. Indeed, the proposed pipeline appears cynically routed to maximize the use of these sensitive public trust resources, ostensibly to reduce the cost and opposition inherent in routing through privately held or already developed areas.

This proposal is especially noxious because it disregards the availability of alternate routes using existing utility rights-of way and disregards the cumulative impacts of multiple other pipeline projects proposed or under construction across New Jersey, projects that make this new pipeline through mostly undisturbed natural and agricultural areas completely unnecessary.

These factors also make it apparent that any decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would be a “major federal action[] significantly affecting the quality of the human environment,” 42 U.S.C. § 4332, and so must be preceded by a detailed environmental impact statement under the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 4331 et seq., including the robust process of public participation mandated by applicable NEPA regulations.

Moreover, as the opponents of the Leidy Southeast Expansion Project recently suggested in FERC Docket No. CP13-551, FERC has long disregarded its legal obligation to conduct a programmatic EIS to consider the cumulative impacts on the environment from the more than one dozen natural gas pipelines proposed or approved in the Marcellus and Utica shale gas regions, rather than segmenting its review or considering individual projects as if these others did not exist. This obligation has been reinforced by the ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Delaware Riverkeeper v. FERC, 753 F.3d 1304 (D.C. Cir. 2014)(cited in Comments of the Princeton Ridge Coalition, FERC Docket No. CP13-551 (Sept. 10, 2014)).

I would appreciate the inclusion of these comments in any docket established for the PennEast Pipeline

Bonnie Watson Coleman
Assemblywoman, District 15

cc. The Honorable Robert Menendez, U.S. Senate
The Honorable Cory Booker, U.S. Senate
The Honorable Rush Holt, U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy
Michael Boots, Acting Chair, White House Counsel on Environmental Quality
The Honorable Chris Christie

Anthony Cox
PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • mmf

    Go get ’em, BWC!

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