NJ Sierra Club Criticizes DEP Approval of Permits for Williams Transco Gas Line

Current Transco pipeline construction in Hunterdon County. Photo: Fight the Pipe.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued permits today for the Transco Leidy Southeast Expansion project that will cut through portions of Princeton and Montgomery.

“This pipeline will destroy wetlands, environmentally sensitive lands forests and will cause flooding. The DEP now stands for the ‘Department of Expedited Permits.’ The governor wants to support fracking and pipelines that carry natural gas. It doesn’t matter if the land is environmentally sensitive. He would rather side with the gas industry than the environment,” NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said. “Once again the DEP ignores the public when it comes to the impacts of these pipelines.  What is worse, they are ignoring the environmental and health and safety impacts, and also now the law…For far too long the DEP has been on the side of the companies it is supposed to regulate rather than the people they are supposed to work for, us.”

The gas pipeline expansion project will cross environmentally sensitive areas in Hunterdon, Somerset, and Mercer Counties.  The route crosses the Princeton Ridge, Sourland Mountains, and a number of preserved lands.

“This dirty infrastructure will cause irreparable harm here at home in the Princeton Ridge, Sourland Mountains, and other protected and environmentally sensitive areas. DEP is not only ignoring and writing off these impacts, but also the damage this project will have on the region by allowing fracking operations to move more gas to market and increase production. As a result of this pipeline, the communities the infrastructure runs through and those near drill sites will see more air and water pollution,” said Kate Millsaps, conservation program coordinator for the NJ Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club is calling for a full Environmental Impact Statement for the project.

The state said Transco worked with the department to reduce environmental impacts in the areas that fall under DEP jurisdiction. The company agreed to reduce the widths of cleared areas needed for construction and maintenance of the pipeline.

The $650 million project is slated to begin next month. Tree clearing for the pipeline expansion began last month.

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