NJDEP rejects PennEast pipeline permit application

Property owners along the path of the 120-mile pipeline have not given consent for the pipeline, according to state officials.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has rejected a permit application for the PennEast Company’s proposed $1 billion natural gas pipeline because of deficiencies in the application.

PennEast had requested more time to address items the state agency had deemed deficient in the application.

“Upon review, the division finds that no substantive information has been received during the initial 60 days allotted for response and thus, this request for additional time is denied,” wrote a state officials in a letter to PennEast on Wednesday.

Officials cited a lack of demonstrated progress on all but one issue and the complexity of the remaining issues as reasons to reject PennEast’s request for an extension.

More than 30 elected officials had sent a letter to NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin last week expressing their opposition to the project, saying it would have a negative impact on natural and historic resources, as well as public health and safety.

PennEast had until June 26 to re-submit portions of its freshwater wetlands permit application that the NJDEP had deemed incomplete. Deficiencies included a lack of consent from property owners along the path of the 120-mile pipeline, as well as technical information like a survey of wetlands areas and historical and archaeological resources. State officials told PennEast in April that the company had 30 days to address the problems and re-submit the application. If, within 60 days, PennEast has still not provided the required information, the NJDEP could decide to “administratively close” the application, which is what the agency then did.

Environmentalists applauded the NJDEP’s actions today.

“By declining PennEast’s illegal permit applications, NJDEP took an important step to protect exceptional New Jersey resources from this ill-conceived pipeline. DEP made it clear that FERC’s shoddy environmental review process does not  replace NJDEP’s obligation to enforce its own laws,” said Jennifer Danis, senior staff attorney at Eastern Environmental Law Center.

“Holding PennEast to the letter of the law helps protect our water, land, and communities from the dangers of a pipeline whose owners just want to rush this project through,” said Jim Waltman, executive director of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association.

“By denying PennEast’s application and extension request, NJDEP held PennEast accountable to the law,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director for ReThink Energy NJ and NJ Conservation Foundation. “NJDEP repeatedly warned PennEast not to apply for permits before doing all of
its legally-required homework. PennEast would cause irreparable harm to our land and water, and the health and safety of residents. New Jersey doesn’t owe PennEast any special treatment.”

PennEast can still resubmit an application for permits, meaning the application will slow down but not necessarily stop the project.