There are many reasons why NJDEP should deny permits for the NESE Project, but they need to know that your representatives oppose it.
We know that the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Project threatens our health, safety and the quality of our waters and air. Construction of NESE also puts threatened and endangered species in harm’s way.
- The NYSDEC and NJDEP people reviewing the water permit applications are required to apply state regulations in their decision-making.
- Elected officials hear from their constituents, and there are certainly behind-the sense conversations that include lobbyists of Williams/Transco.
- Though we have sent many comments to the NJDEP and do not know exactly what will make a difference in their decision-making process, it is important that we all let our elected officials know how we feel about the NESE Project.
SOME REASONS WHY THE NJDEP SHOULD DENY THE PERMIT APPLICATIONS
- The applications do not comply with state regulations for Surface Water Quality, Stormwater Management, and showing a “compelling public need” for moving gas across NJ to NY.
- This project would not benefit New Jersey in any way since the gas would all go to New York. Instead, we would be faced with all of the safety and environmental consequences.
- NESE would create more air and water pollution for the entire region.
- The NESE pipeline would cut through waterfront areas into the bay, increasing coastal flooding and dredging up toxins in the Raritan Bay. When you cut through a bay like the Raritan, it has an impact on the fisheries as well as the ecology of the Bay. The fish, plants and other living creatures in the Bay would be threatened by this pipeline.
- This pipeline would cut through the already polluted and sensitive Raritan Bay and the New York Bay. Construction would disrupt 1 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment such as arsenic, lead and PCBs, putting toxic chemicals into the Raritan Bay. The release of those toxins will affect aquatic migration, interfere with breeding, contribute to harmful algae blooms, and impact human health.
- We’ve spent decades cleaning up the waters in Raritan Bay, and the NESE construction also threatens commercial and recreational fishing economies at the Bayshore.
- The pipeline project’s path would cut across numerous contaminated sites as well as 2 Superfund sites, the Raritan Bay Slag and Higgins Farm sites, as it goes across the state into the Raritan Bay.
- This project would cut through wetlands and other sensitive areas, further imperiling the water, soil and wildlife with more toxic runoff during construction.
- This project would increase polluted stormwater runoff, destroy critical habitat and cause significant degradation to the environment.
- The Coastal Wetland permit would allow for the destruction of wetlands critical for protection against flooding and storm surges. Wetlands also offer vital pollution protection. They filter chemicals and sediment out of the water before it is discharged into the ocean. The loss of those important coastal wetlands will create more pollution and flooding in Middlesex and Monmouth counties.
- It’s dangerous to remove wetlands because they act as natural storm barriers and water filters for the area. The risk will be heightened with worsening storm surges and climate effects including sea level rise.
- Stormwater runoff impacts from the proposed Compressor Station 206 will also have harmful results. The station will release formaldehyde, chromium, benzene and hydrocarbons into industrial stormwater runoff that will increase pollution and flooding in an area already plagued by flooding.
- The Freshwater Wetlands and Flood Hazard Area permits would allow for the destruction of exceptional resource value wetlands and transition areas along with forested areas that are critical for protection against flooding and storm surges as well as vital for the threatened Barred Owl.
- This gas is highly flammable and dangerous. An accident with this pipeline and compressor station could contaminate our waterways and environment and put people at risk.
The NJDEP has until September 25, 2019 to issue their decision about the Coastal Wetlands and Waterfront Development permit applications.
We know that Williams/Transco is guaranteed at least a 14% return on its investment via the FERC permitting process, and we know that National Grid (the customer for the NESE gas) is doing everything they can to influence Governor Cuomo and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to issue the permits by not honoring new applications for gas hook-ups until the NESE Project is approved.
Some points about National Grid
In New York, public utilities are natural monopolies because the infrastructure required to produce and deliver a product such as electricity, gas or water is very expensive to build and maintain, and having more than one company building infrastructure would make our streets a mess. As a result, they are granted special status as monopolies, but are overseen and regulated by a public utilities commission to ensure accountability to the public. However, utilities can easily take advantage of their power—and that’s what National Grid has done.
In July 2019, National Grid sent out an email blast to their customers taking a play from our activist handbook to “send comments to the DEC” in favor of the Williams Transco pipeline. In so doing they are abusing their monopoly power to panic customers into lobbying for their private profit.
- National Grid’s recent moratorium on new gas hookups violates state regulatory procedures meant to protect ratepayers.
- The utility’s recent emails to those ratepayers about the illegal moratorium, which ask customers to lobby government agencies to support the pipeline, further violate ethical guidelines and are an abuse of its power as a monopoly.
- The utility’s recent emails to those ratepayers do not offer any alternatives, like renewable energy, to the customer to alleviate said gas moratorium.
- The Public Service Commission (PSC) has a robust system of administrative procedures which protect ratepayers and ensure that they can weigh in and have their interests represented when utilities make changes that might affect them. For example, Public Service Law requires National Grid to consult with the PSC before denying ratepayers gas service. Only the PSC can decide how to address possible gas shortages.
- By unilaterally imposing its gas moratorium, National Grid has circumvented these procedures and prevented the PSC from being able to adequately protect ratepayers and regulate the potentially self-serving actions of a monopoly utility.
- National Grid’s emails exacerbate this potential harm to its customers. Along with being confusing and manipulative, they pressure captive ratepayers—ratepayers who have no other choice of utility—to act politically against their best interests and on a private corporation’s behalf.
- National Grid’s emails also create a harmful climate of fear based around a supposed gas shortage. This is all as the utility continues to ignore expert reports proving that we don’t need this gas and continues to withhold information that we have requested, which they claim substantiates the need for this new pipeline.
- The New York DEC has a legal duty to uphold the Clean Water Act and protect our waters and the ecosystem our waters support.
Some media coverage of these manipulative tactics by National Grid is found here:
- National Grid’s standoff with state threatens Brooklyn customers – Brooklyn Daily Eagle
- As colder months approach, debate heats up over natural gas expansion – Long Island Business News
- They Have A Greed Problem’: National Grid Refuses To Give Desperate Brooklyn Residents New Gas Hookups – CBS New York
- No New Gas – National Grid Holds Brooklyn Restaurants Hostage – Brooklyner
- Officials Blast National Grid Over Gas Moratorium To Service In Brooklyn – CBS New York
- Lawmakers: National Grid Freeze on New Gas Hookups is a Ruse for Williams Pipeline – Spectrum News NY