The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has granted rehearings for Transco’s proposed Garden State Expansion compressor station project in Central New Jersey. The project will connect to the PennEast Pipeline.
Bordentown Township and other municipalities challenged an April order by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approving the project, which includes a compressor station to be built in Chesterfield, upgrades to the Transco substation in Ewing, and increased capacity in some gas lines. Local officials called for rehearings, arguing that Transco failed to comply with notice requirements, did not obtain environmental approvals, and violated the National Environmental Policy Act by improperly segmenting the project from other related projects. Details on the rehearing have yet to be released.
“Anytime we get FERC to reopen a docket and have a rehearing is an environmental victory,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “FERC almost never grants a rehearing and the fact that they did it shows that there were significant problems in the approval of Transco’s application. Transco’s application was woefully inadequate and they segmented the project from the two pipelines it will connect to.”
Tittel said FERC did not conduct a full Environmental Impact Study and violated the rules by approving the project without a 401 water quality certificate.
“This is an important milestone in our battle to fight this compressor station and its connected infrastructure,” Tittel said. “This rehearing will give us more time to get new things on the record on why this application is bad for the environment and should be denied.”
According to the Sierra Club, compressor stations cause pollution and raise safety concerns by releasing toxic chemicals into the air.
“The Garden State Expansion compressor station would bring more noise, light, and air pollution, as well as construction and water pollution to the area,” Tittel said. “We believe there are significant air quality impacts that have not been addressed regarding the compressor station. As such, we do not believe the compressor station would meet the criteria for air quality permits.”
The Garden State Expansion compressor station is part of a bigger project that includes the Southern Reliability Link pipeline and the PennEast Pipeline. New Jersey Natural Gas is a 20 percent partner in PennEast and is getting 180,000 dekatherms of natural gas from them. PennEast is putting that gas into a Transco substation in Ewing, which is part of the Garden State Expansion. That same amount of gas will then go to the Garden State Expansion compressor station in Chesterfield and into NJNG’s Southern Reliability Link pipeline. The compressor station, Southern Reliability Link, and PennEast Pipeline would work together as one system. Opponents of the project argue the projects should be evaluated as one system.
“By approving the compressor station without taking into consideration PennEast Pipeline or the Southern Reliability Link, FERC is wrongfully segmenting this project. The Garden State Expansion is connected to both pipelines and it should be examined as an entire project,” Tittel said.