Contributed by Liz Peer, Environmental Action Group
Comment now on PennEast’s new application to the state of New Jersey here. Comment period is 60 days from August 20, so don’t wait. Some talking points to help you are below:
- NJDEP has sufficient information to determine that this pipeline can’t be constructed in a manner that meets the stringent environmental standards required under state law and regulations. NJDEP should deny the permits with prejudice. This point should be included in all communications!
- Extensive wildlife surveys conducted by independent biologists documented the significant occurrence of long-tailed salamanders and other sensitive species throughout the proposed route. These reports were submitted to the State Natural Heritage Database. NJDEP should rely on these data, which show that PennEast would threaten protected species of wildlife, rather than PennEast’s incomplete surveys, in order to ascertain the true impact the pipeline would have.
- PennEast would cut through Baldpate Mountain in Mercer County, an important bird area supporting numerous migrating and breeding species, including 28 ranked by the American Bird Conservancy as birds of conservation concern. PennEast would cross or come within 100 feet of four important bird areas, posing a threat to irreplaceable wildlife.
- Research has found that open-cut, isolated, and Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) stream-crossing methods for pipeline construction have damaged channel morphology, water quality, and aquatic life, and habitats. Any of these stream crossing methods will result in unacceptable impacts to protected waterways and wildlife.
- According to industry sources, Horizontal Directional Drilling crossings (HDDs) cause inadvertent returns or frack outs 50% of the time. It is a coin toss whether an HDD will fail or not. The Mariner East 2 project in Pennsylvania clearly demonstrates the extensive environmental damage these inadvertent returns can cause to wells and waterways. As of February 2019, there were about 240 inadvertent returns of drilling fluid to land and water along the Mariner East 2 route, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection had issued 94 notices of permit violations.
- By adding impervious surface to local watersheds, construction of the PennEast pipeline would exacerbate sediment-loading in the D&R Canal – threatening a drinking water source for millions of central New Jersey residents.
- Researchers have identified the potential for arsenic contamination in some areas along the PennEast pipeline route. The geology in areas along this route includes rock that is rich in arsenic, and disturbance of these areas could release arsenic into groundwater in an area of the state that already has high levels of arsenic in groundwater.
- Nearly 800 drinking water wells in NJ and PA are within 800 feet of the proposed pipeline route and are at risk. Given that numerous wells were contaminated as a result of HDD inadvertent returns from Mariner East 2 construction, there is no reason to believe PennEast would produce a different result.
- Construction of PennEast poses a significant risk to the Swan Creek Dam, which if ruptured, would result in catastrophic flooding in Lambertville.
- PennEast would cut through over 4,300 acres of land preserved by the state, counties, municipalities, and non-profit organizations. Taxpayer dollars have been invested in these lands to protect water, natural, historic, and agricultural resources for the benefit of the residents of New Jersey. NJDEP should not allow a pipeline that would threaten this investment.
- A study by the Goodman Group found that PennEast overestimated by two thirds the number of jobs that would result from construction of the pipeline, and that only 10 ongoing jobs would be created in New Jersey. According to The Cadmus Group report, all forms of renewable energy – such as wind and solar – or energy conservation projects would be expected to create more jobs than PennEast – from 2,744 to 13,719 additional jobs for the same level of investment.
- The NJ Rate Counsel found no public need for PennEast, called it “unfair to ratepayers” and concluded that the project is driven by PennEast’s opportunity to earn a 14% rate of return that would be like “winning the lottery” for the project sponsors.