12/9/19 Update

Williams/Transco withdrew all permit applications to NJDEP for the NESE Project on November 26, 2019, the day after National Grid & New York reached an agreement following National Grid’s moratorium on gas service.  

Williams/Transco will submit new applications “at a later date.”

Once again, NJDEP did not have/take the opportunity to deny permit applications for the NESE Project before all permit applications were withdrawn by Williams/Transco on 11/26/19.

  • For the Flood Hazard Area permit application which was “complete for review”, the DEP’s decision date deadline was 11/28/19.  
  • For the Coastal Wetlands & Waterfront Development applications along with a request for a Section 401 Water Quality Certification and Coastal Zone Consistency Determination, the decision date was 6/12/20 before Williams/Transco withdrew these applications on 10/25/19 and then reapplied – without anything new in the applications – on 10/28/19.  Those 10/28/19 applications were administratively complete but had not yet been declared technically complete (which is needed to be considered “complete for review”) before Williams/Transco withdrew them.

On 11/26/19, Williams/Transco wrote that they withdrew all applications for permits to afford the NJDEP additional time to review the application material and comply with the DEP’s timelines under NJ regulations.  The DEP has 90 calendar days (which can be extended by exactly 30 calendar days) to render a decision after an application is declared to be “complete for review”.

  • Publically available documents do not reveal that the DEP indicated in any way that they needed extra time for their review or that the DEP asked Williams/Transco to withdraw and resubmit permit applications so that they would have additional review time.
  • Given the response letter from the DEP’s Christopher Jones (11/27/19) following the withdrawal of applications, it appears that the permit applications still failed to meet the standards for approval.  He wrote that any subsequent new applications would need to address persistent deficiencies in the applications that pertain to (1) confirming that there is a compelling public need for the proposed additional natural gas capacity; (2) steps to show that the alternate access road to the proposed compressor station – that would avoid or minimize environmental impacts – is truly not a practicable alternative; and (3) providing information about monitoring the proposed in-water dredging operations to ensure that all best practices and operational procedures would be implemented and that there are adaptive management procedures that could be implemented in case dredging resulted in exceedance of surface water quality standards.
  • Williams/Transco has not indicated what they will do next other than writing that they will submit applications for the permits at a later date.  Note:  Prior letters withdrawing applications (6-14-18 & 10-25-19) noted that they would submit new applications in the coming days.
  • At this time, we do not know the plans of Williams/Transco to obtain permits needed for NESE.   Are they waiting to see National Grid’s plan for a long-term solution to meeting demand for gas that is due within 3 months?

RELATED ISSUE:

National Grid, the planned recipient of the additional natural gas for New York from the NESE Project, has recently entered an agreement with NY that is outlined below.  This was in response to investigative actions following National Grid’s moratorium on new or reengaged gas service that was heightened after NYSDEC denied permits for the NESE Project in May 2019.  

The real need for more gas in this service area has been in question for a while.

National Grid’s 11-25-19 Agreement with NY

  1. National Grid promised that it will meet demand for the next 2 years.
  2. Within 3 months, National Grid will propose long-term solutions to gas supply issues in the region:
    • Reduce demand through energy efficiency & demand response programs (ask & expect more customers to shift to “non-firm” service – oil or other alternate fuel – and charge these customers differently , being able to penalize them if they do not switch)
    • Truck-in compressed natural gas
    • Long-term possibilities to be considered include renewable energy sources, conservation strategies, liquefied & compressed natural gas facilities, new natural gas pipeline, and/or NESE if it is the most viable & sustainable solution. 
    • Long-term plan needs to be approved by NY State by June 2020 to go into operation by the fall of 2021.
  3. $36 million penalty will be paid by National Grid to New York.
    • $7 million to compensate customers harmed by the moratorium
    • $8 million for new gas efficiency measures
    • $20 million as investment in clean energy businesses across NY State
  4. NY’s Public Service Commission will appoint a monitor to oversee National Grid’s operations & review compliance with this agreement over the next 2 years.  National Grid will pay for the monitor.
  5. National Grid will host public hearings.  At least one will be in Nassau County & another in Suffolk County.

10/29/2019 Update

NJDEP did not issue their decision on the water permit applications on October 25, 2019 as was expected. 

Rather:

  1. Williams/Transco asked for a 30-day extension for a DEP decision on the Flood Hazard Area permit, and
  2. Williams/Transco withdrew their permit applications for Waterfront Development with Section 401 Water Quality Certification & Coastal Zone Management Consistency, and they submitted new applications three days later – October 28, 2019.

      The NJDEP does not have a 90-day decision deadline to adhere to for the Freshwater Wetlands permit application (i.e., There would be no consequences if they rendered a decision on this beyond 90 days after declaring the application to be complete for review.)

      THANK YOU!

      This is to recognize all the recent efforts to ensure that the NJDEP was aware of our concerns, issues with the applications, and recognition that the applications did not meet the stringent standards that the NJDEP was required to adhere to.  Prior to the NJDEP’s anticipated 10/25/19 decision on the June 12, 2019 applications:

      • Franklin Township Council passed a resolution urging the NJDEP to reject the June 2019 permits for the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Project at their 10/22/19 meeting.
      • Princeton Council passed a resolution urging the NJDEP to reject the June 2019 permits for the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Project at their 10/14/19 meeting.
      • Letters were sent to the Governor and NJDEP’s Commissioner McCabe from 33 elected officials and 32 organizations or their members urging the DEP to deny the permits for NESE on 10/18/19.
      • Nearly 6,000 people signed letters and/or online petitions/letters from New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch, Clean Ocean Action, Central Jersey Environmental Defenders, and the Natural Resources Defense Council stating opposition to NESE and urging the DEP to deny the permits for NESE.  
      • Over 200 people called the Governor’s office to urge the DEP to deny the permits for NESE because they did not meet stringent regulatory standards
      • Many individuals sent individually-prepared comments to the NJDEP.
      • Franklin Twp. Manager sent extensive comments from the Franklin Township Task Force to the NJDEP and other officials in Trenton on 8/20/19 and 10/21/19.
      • Eastern Environmental Law Center and Princeton Hydro sent comments to the NJDEP on 8/2/19, 8/23/19, 10/21/19, and 10/24/19.
      • People rallied in Red Bank on 9/14/19 at an event organized by Clean Ocean Action.
      • And there were more actions …

      Some of the reasons cited for denying the permits were:

      1. Construction of the NESE Project threatens surface water quality, increased stormwater flooding, and threatened & endangered species and their habitats.
        • From construction in Raritan Bay –  
          • Unearthing toxics above levels acceptable in the regulations
          • Generating turbidity (clouding the water) that would interfere with designated use of the waters
        • From construction of the Madison Loop –
          • Digging in acid-producing soils would result in poor re-vegetation on steep slopes and could lead to excess runoff into wetlands (some of which are classified as “exceptional resource”).
        • From the design of the retention basin for Compressor Station 206 – 
          • This will not adequately address stormwater runoff.
          • NOTE:  Williams/Transco made similar errors that NJ DEP failed to detect and correct in the design and construction of a recent compressor station in Chesterfield Township (“Garden State Expansion” project).
      2. Construction of the Raritan Bay Loop, with its newly proposed shorter schedule, threatens the health of marine life, habitats, benthic and shellfish communities, and the economy of the region due to suspension and spreading of toxins from beneath the seafloor, noise from construction, and limited access to construction space in the Bay for commercial and recreational activities.
      3. Williams/Transco did not demonstrate that there are no practicable alternatives to avoid impacting exceptional resource value wetlands and their transition areas at the proposed CS206 site and Madison Loop.
      4. NJDEP explained that Williams/Transco did not demonstrate (1) that the proposed NESE Project serves an essential health or safety need of the municipality in which it is proposed; (2) that the proposed NESE Project serves existing needs of residents of the State; and (3) that there is no other means available to meet the established public need.
        • NESE does not meet the “public interest” criteria because: 
          • There is no “compelling public need” for it – It does not provide a public health or safety benefit, and, additionally, NY does not need this gas.  Rather, NESE:
            • threatens our air and water quality from methane and other toxic releases, 
            • negatively impacts the health of people and marine/wild life from Compressor Station 206 emissions & unearthed toxins from constructing in Raritan Bay,
            • poses safety risks (fires or explosions) from increased velocity of transporting natural gas through pipelines that are 50+ year old which will impact the rate of corrosion, and 
            • increases risks of flooding at the CS206 site from an inadequately designed retention basin.
        • It doesn’t preserve natural resources, and
          • There would be a negative impact on the shore economy by dredging up toxins from the floor of the Bay which would harm the health and safety of marine life and of Bayshore communities.
          • NOTE:  FERC’s 5/3/19 Certificate of Public Convenience & Necessity was not based on criteria NJDEP needs to use to determine public interest / compelling public need.
      5. The NESE Project’s greenhouse gas emissions and methane leaks would undercut the State’s goals to address impacts on Climate Change.  Based on the responses from the public and political leaders, there is growing support for these goals and opposition to NESE.
        • Approximately 6,000 people called the Governor and/or signed online petitions to the NJDEP and/or to Governor Murphy that included reasons for the NJDEP to deny the June 12, 2019 permit applications.  More comments were emailed or submitted in writing to the NJDEP during the comment period for this 3rd set of applications, but we do not know how many.
        • Governor Cuomo & Mayor DeBlasio, along with many other elected officials in NJ & NY, have voiced their opposition to the NESE Project.

      REMEMBER:  The NESE compressor station & pipeline can’t be built without permits from the NJDEP.

      STAY TUNED for plans for future actions.

ACTION ALERT: Keep the Pressure on to Scrap-NESE

THANK YOU!

Over 4,500 people signed online petitions to the NJDEP and/or to Governor Murphy that included reasons for the NJDEP to deny the June 12, 2019 permit applications.  More comments were emailed or submitted in writing to the NJDEP during the comment period for this 3rd set of applications, but we do not know how many.


YOUR COMMENTS TO NJDEP & GOVERNOR MURPHY ARE STILL NEEDED

Keep telling NJDEP and your elected representatives that you want the DEP to deny the permit applications for NESE. Attached below are reasons that you can use in your comments.

NJDEP is required to apply regulations from their Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules, Flood Hazard Area Rules, Stormwater Management Rules, Coastal Zone Wetland Rules and any other applicable regulations in deciding whether or not the applications for NESE meet NJ standards.  For the Coastal Wetlands & Waterfront Development permits, NJDEP needs to make a decision by Friday, October 25.  For the Flood Hazard Area permit, a decision is due by Tuesday, October 29

Since the NJDEP accepts new information from Williams/Transco about the pending permit applications for NESE after the end of the comment period, people should send comments about this new information to NJDEP.  Williams/Transco responded to comments sent to the NJDEP on September 4 & 9, 2019.  These documents, sent to NJDEP, are attached below.

At this time, the applications do not meet standards in the regulations for (1) Surface Water Quality, (2) Protecting Threatened & Endangered Species and the Bayshore Economy, (3) Avoiding Exceptional Resource Value Wetlands, and (4) Public Interest / Compelling Public Need.  Additionally, (5) NESE hinders meeting clean energy goals of the State.

  1. Construction of the NESE Project threatens surface water quality, increased stormwater flooding, and threatened & endangered species and their habitats.
    • From construction in Raritan Bay –  
      • Unearthing toxics above levels acceptable in the regulations
      • Generating turbidity (clouding the water) that would interfere with designated use of the waters
    • From construction of the Madison Loop –
      • Digging in acid-producing soils would result in poor re-vegetation on steep slopes and could lead to excess runoff into wetlands (some of which are classified as “exceptional resource”).
    • From the design of the retention basin for Compressor Station 206 – 
      • This will not adequately address stormwater runoff.
      • NOTE:  Williams/Transco made similar errors that NJ DEP failed to detect and correct in the design and construction of a recent compressor station in Chesterfield Township (“Garden State Expansion” project).
  2. Construction of the Raritan Bay Loop, with its newly proposed shorter schedule, threatens the health of marine life, habitats, benthic and shellfish communities, and the economy of the region due to suspension and spreading of toxins from beneath the seafloor, noise from construction, and limited access to construction space in the Bay for commercial and recreational activities.
  3. Williams/Transco did not demonstrate that there are no practicable alternatives to avoid impacting exceptional resource value wetlands and their transition areas at the proposed CS206 site and Madison Loop.
  4. NJDEP explained that Williams/Transco did not demonstrate (1) that the proposed NESE Project serves an essential health or safety need of the municipality in which it is proposed; (2) that the proposed NESE Project serves existing needs of residents of the State; and (3) that there is no other means available to meet the established public need.   NESE does not meet the “public interest” criteria because: 
    • There is no “compelling public need” for it – It does not provide a public health or safety benefit, and, additionally, NY does not need this gas.  Rather, NESE:
      • threatens our air and water quality from methane and other toxic releases, 
      • negatively impacts our health from Compressor Station 206 emissions, 
      • poses safety risks (fires or explosions) from increased velocity of transporting natural gas through pipelines that are 50+ year old which will impact the rate of corrosion, and 
      • increases risks of flooding at the CS206 site from an inadequately designed retention basin.
    • It doesn’t preserve natural resources, and
    • There would be a negative impact on the shore economy by dredging up toxins from the floor of the Bay which would harm the health and safety of marine life and of Bayshore communities.
    • NOTE:  FERC’s 5/3/19 Certificate of Public Convenience & Necessity was not based on criteria NJDEP needs to use to determine public interest / compelling public need.
  5. The NESE Project’s greenhouse gas emissions and methane leaks would undercut the State’s goals to address Impacts on Climate Change.  Based on the responses from the public and political leaders, there is growing support for these goals.

The NJDEP makes the decision about the permit applications.

Send your comments to New Jersey’s DEP Project Managers & copy others who should read your comments:

TO:

NJDEP Project Managers: 
Joslin Tamagno Joslin.Tamagno@dep.nj.gov
Steve Olivera Stephen.Olivera@dep.nj.gov 

COPIES TO:

Governor Phil Murphy Constituent.relations@nj.gov
Christopher Jones, Manager – Land Use Christopher.Jones@dep.nj.gov 
Catherine R. McCabe, NJDEP Commissioner Commissioner@dep.nj.gov 
Diane Dow, Director – Land Use Diane.Dow@dep.nj.gov 
Virginia Kopkash, Assistant Commissioner – Land Use Ginger.Kopkash@dep.nj.gov 
Ruth Foster, Director – Permit Coordination & Environmental Review Ruth.Foster@dep.nj.gov 


Governor Cuomo & Mayor DeBlasio, along with many other elected officials in NJ & NY, have voiced their opposition to the NESE Project.  

On WYNC’s September 24, 2019 Brian Lehrer Show, NY’s Governor Cuomo said the following about the NESE Project:  “We have taken a position: We’re against the pipeline. That’s our position.” About National Grid, he said that the investigation should be complete in a few weeks and, when asked about negotiating with National Grid, he stated, “… If they’re extorting people and wrongly turning off gas service to homes to create political pressure, I’m not negotiating over that.  That’s extortion. That’s a crime.” Listen to the interview, and hear more about his comments on the NESE Project and National Grid below starting at 7:00.


Governor Murphy hasn’t spoken out about NESE despite the fact that this project undermines the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) 2019 Energy Master Plan’s 2050 Clean Energy goal.

ACTION ALERT: Call or write to your NJ State Legistlators

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.

Attached is a list of New Jersey Senators and Representatives.  Call and/or write to your representatives ASAP. 

The NJDEP has until September 25, 2019 to issue their decision about the Coastal Wetlands and Waterfront Development permit applications.


PROPOGANDA ACTIONS

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:

ACTION ALERT: Submit Comments to NJDEP by August 23!

NJDEP has issued a COMMENT PERIOD for the June 2019 NESE applications that ends on August 23, 2019

Join us in stopping Williams/Transco’s proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Project’s Compressor Station 206 and pipeline in Old Bridge/Sayreville and under Raritan Bay that threatens our communities, the environment, and efforts to address risks from climate change in NJ and NY.

ACTIONS:

  • Call Governor Murphy between 9 AM and 5PM at 866-586-4069 or 609-292-6000 & leave a message that you expect the NJDEP to protect our health and safety by denying the permit applications for the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Project that do not meet standards of NJ regulations.

WHY?  There are many reasons to oppose NESE’s compressor station and pipeline proposed to be built in New Jersey.

  1. Construction would harm the health and environments of humans, marinelife and wildlife.
  2. Operation of the compressor station would threaten our health from toxic air emissions.
  3. Increased velocity of moving gas through pipeline that is 50+ years old risks hastening of corrosion that leads to fires and explosions.
  4. Williams/Transco has a poor safety record.
  5. The NESE Project undercuts goals and efforts of NJ and NY to fight impacts of climate change.

The NESE Project has been stopped twice in New York and twice in New Jersey when 2017 and 2018 applications for permits were withdrawn and/or denied.  Now, following the third applications in June 2019, it’s time for the NJDEP to deny the permit applications with prejudice (a.k.a. “for good”).  

We know that there is no way for Williams/Transco to build NESE’s pipeline and compressor station without threatening our water quality, threatened & endangered species, and wetlands.  We will continue to fight this dangerous and unnecessary project to the end.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE NEEDED NOW!    Many of the concerns of people in NJ & NY have been heard, and they need to be voiced again about the 2019 permit applications – by August 23, 2019.

Now is the time to make it known that you expect the NJDEP to deny the water permit applications that they received on June 12, 2019 for the NESE Project. 

YOUR COMMENTS ARE NEEDED!  Click the button below to submit your comments through the Action Network by the extended deadline of August 23.

SUBMIT COMMENTS

ACTION ALERT: Comment Period Extended to August 23

The fight against Compressor Station 206 and the pipeline in the Raritan Bay is not over! 

Williams/Transco still needs permits from NJDEP and the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to receive FERC’s permission to begin construction. 

  • The earlier permit applications to NJDEP were withdrawn or rejected – 6/23 & 7/10/17 applications withdrawn on 6/15/18 > new applications submitted 6/20/18 > denied by NJDEP on 6/5/19 > new applications submitted on 6/12/19. 

It has been over 3 years since the opposition to the NESE Project began, and there’s still hope that the NJDEP will do the right thing and reject the third set of applications from Williams/Transco for permits since they fail to meet State requirements for the permits

  • The June 12, 2019 applications to NJDEP still do not meet NJ regulations by showing a “compelling public need” for the NESE Project. 
  • They still include harms from construction of the pipeline to our surface water quality, marine life, and threatened & endangered species and their habitats. 
  • The proposed infiltration basin for the compressor station site still does not meet required regulations. 
  • Operations would guarantee decades of toxic air pollution from the compressor station. 

See attachments: NJDEP’s deficiency letters

Now is the time to make it known that you expect the NJDEP to deny the water permit applications that they received on June 12, 2019 for the NESE Project. 

YOUR COMMENTS ARE NEEDED!  Click the button below to submit your comments through the Action Network by the extended deadline of August 23.

SUBMIT COMMENTS

ACTION ALERT – Request Fact-Finding Meetings/Public Hearings

Since applying for water permits to the NJDEP a third time via letters dated June 10, 2019, the NJDEP has issued two deficiency letters to Williams/Transco – June 25 and July 12. These letters are attached.

  • The applications for Waterfront Development (Upland & In-Water Individual Permits) and Coastal Wetlands (Individual Permit) have been deemed by the NJDEP to be technically complete. Thus, they are “complete for review”, and this mean that the NJDEP has until September 25 to make a decision about granting or denying these particular permits.
  • Permit applications for Freshwater Wetlands and Flood Hazard Area remain technically deficient. The NJDEP has requested revised Stormwater Management calculations to account for soil units that were reported as different in soil survey reports and in geotechnical investigation reports. They also requested that Williams/Transco demonstrate that the road to the Higgins Farm EPA Remediation Building is not a practicable alternative to their proposed access road.

WHAT TO DO?

Use the attached sample letter and let the NJDEP know that you want them to schedule 3 fact-finding meetings (a.k.a. “public hearings”) near the proposed compressor station site in Franklin Twp., neat the pipeline proposed in Old Bridge and Sayreville, and near the Bayshore communities in Monmouth County who will be affected by the proposed in-water pipeline.

NOTE: Requests for new fact-finding meetings (public hearings) need to be received by the NJDEP by Friday, August 2.

Click here to download letter. Copy & paste the into an email, or print, sign and send by mail, adding anything that you think is relevant.

  • Email it to the NJDEP Commissioner and others involved in overseeing the permit reviews. Email addresses = below.
  • In the Subject line of your email, type: NESE June 2019 Permit applications – Requesting Hearings and more time.
  • Copy & paste these email addresses to use in the “Send” area:

Email to:
Commissioner@dep.nj.gov
Ruth.Foster@dep.nj.gov

Email copy to:
Christopher.Jones@dep.nj.gov
Stephen.Olivera@dep.nj.gov
Joslin.Tamagno@dep.nj.gov

You can also print the letter and add your personal information at the bottom to then snail mail it to the Commissioner McCabe.

PEOPLE OVER POLLUTERS – WE WON FOR NOW

PEOPLE OVER POLLUTERS – WE WON FOR NOW

The concerns of the public were heard, and NJDEP did its job by holding Williams/Transco to the standards of New Jersey’s regulations designed to protect our environment, health and safety.

On June 5, the NJDEP denied all applications for water permits for the NESE Project without prejudice to any future re-application by Williams/Transco.  The NJDEP considered the application documents, extensive public comments, and requirements in their regulations to reach this decision.

Following the May 15 denial without prejudice by the NYSDEC for permits, Williams/Transco re-applied two days later.  

Chris Stockton, spokesperson for Williams, issued the following statement on June 6, 2019 at 12:56 pm:  “We are currently assessing the discrete technical issues raised by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection related to our application for water quality certification. We believe that we can be responsive to the issues raised by the agency and intend to resubmit the application to the agency in a timely manner to maintain the customer’s in-service date requirement.”

Those “discrete technical issues” include Williams/Transco’s lack of fully demonstrating: 

  1. a compelling public need for NESE that meets State regulations or, in the alternative, the existence of an extraordinary hardship that warrants granting a permit for the compressor station as detailed in the applications; 
  2. that there is no practicable alternative to the proposed construction of and access to the compressor station that would avoid or minimize impacts to freshwater wetlands and exceptional value resource areas at this site; and 
  3. how construction of the Raritan Bay Loop’s dredging and redistribution of toxic sediment from the floor of the bay would avoid or minimize adverse impacts to surface water quality to ensure compliance with surface water quality standards. 

We’ll wait to see what is in the new application.  

We will continue to act to protect our environment, health, safety and well-being.  Remember what Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful concerned citizens can change the world.  Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

ACTION ALERT – New Jersey does not want NESE, and New York does not need NESE

NJDEP should reject NESE’s applications for water permits by June 5.

WHY?

  • The applications for water permits do not meet state standards.
  • The NESE Project fails to preserve, protect and enhance our natural environment.
  • The NESE Project would harm public health, safety and the general welfare.
  • NESE would not provide benefit to NJ or the municipalities, and there is no proof that NY needs more gas.

PEOPLE & GOVERNMENT GROUPS HAVE SPOKEN

  1. On May 14, Franklin Township passed a resolution urging the NJDEP to deny the applications from Williams/Transco for water permits for the NESE Project.
  2. On May 2, 2019, signatures of over 10,000 people on petitions and letters urging the NJDEP to deny the permit applications were delivered to the NJDEP.
  3. The Town Councils/Committees of Franklin Township, Montgomery, South Brunswick, and Princeton (around the proposed Compressor Station 206) and Aberdeen, Atlantic Highlands, Hazlet, Highlands, Holmdel, Keansburg, Keyport, Long Branch, Matawan, Middletown, Rumson, Sea Bright, and Union Beach (around the proposed Raritan Bay Loop pipeline), along with the Freeholders from Somerset and Monmouth Counties, have adopted resolutions opposing the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project due to risks about safety and health, and the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules require the Department to determine if the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project is in the “public interest” after considering, among other things, the “probable individual and cumulative impacts of the regulated activity on public health and fish and wildlife”.
  4. On May 5, 2019, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation conditionally denied Williams/Transco a Water Quality Certification because the Project, as currently conceived, would likely have significant Water Quality impacts in New York State.

“[A]s currently conceived, construction of the Project would likely have significant water quality impacts in New York State. This includes significant water quality impacts from the resuspension of sediments and other contaminants, including mercury and copper. In addition, as currently proposed, the Project would cause impact s to habitats due to the disturbance of shellfish beds and other benthic resources. … [B]ased on the information currently available, the Department is unable to determine that Transco has demonstrated that construction and operation of the Project would comply with applicable water quality standards.” Additionally, “Transco has not provided sufficient documentation to the Department that any reduction in the rate of dredging to comply with water quality standards would be possible within applicable specified protection work windows.”

Williams/Transco submitted a new application to New York on May 17, 2019.

Offshore Issues

New Jersey does not want NESE, and New York does not need NESE

The construction of the proposed pipeline will result in significant negative impacts to marine fish and fisheries though:

  • increased turbidity
  • re-suspension of toxin-laden sediment
  • noise impacts
  • hydrostatic testing

Furthermore, Williams/Transco does not appear to be able to comply with necessary time of year restrictions that exist to protect fisheries and marine fish, and there has been no known agreement with agencies about Williams/Transco’s request to bypasss these protections to complete construction under a modification of the time- of-year restrictions that were designed to protect species in the Bay.

Construction of the Madison and Raritan Bay Loops of the NESE Project would affect 3,843.6 acres of land (3,726.5 offshore + 117.1 on land) according to FERC’s 1/25/19 FEIS (pg. 2-9).

Construction of the Raritan Bay Loop would inhibit travel of commercial and recreational vehicles in the Bay for nine months, 24/7 within the 14,165.5 acre construction workspace footprint.

The process of installing the pipeline will disturb the toxic-laden sediments at the bottom of the Raritan Bay which will smother marine life dwelling on the floor and elsewhere. The construction of the Raritan Bay Loop in New Jersey, New York and Federal waters would directly disrupt 87.8 acres of seafloor which now provides cover to years of toxics such as PCBs, mercury and copper that would be unearthed and result in deposition of toxics on the seafloor.

The proposal to build approximately six miles of pipeline under the Raritan Bay in NJ waters (out of a 23.5 mile pipeline in the NY Bight) will quite likely end up re-releasing arsenic, lead, PCBs and other toxic substances in the sediment back into the Bay. The resuspension of toxic-laden sediments, throughout the dredging and drilling process as well as through the discharge of drilling muds, hydrostatic testing, vessel anchoring and operations, will significantly degrade the water quality of the Raritan Bay and result in concentrations harmful to fish and shellfish that are detrimental.

Construction of the Raritan Bay Loop of NESE will unearth and re-suspend toxic-and-pathogen-laden sediment.

  • NESE’s Final Environmental Impact Statement revealed that construction of the Raritan Bay Loop would result in the resuspension of 1,091,734 cubic yards of toxic-laden sediment.
  • The re-suspended fine-grain sediments will not readily resettle and contain known harmful chemicals such as heavy metals, methylmercury, dioxin, and others.
  • The re-suspended contaminates will affect habitat quality and risk contamination of fishery resources.
  • The seafloor would be covered by over 1.2 inches of sediment – known to include harmful pollutants – on areas up to 21.7 acres (from clamshell dredging), up to 3.7 acres (from use of a hand jet and submersible pump/suction dredge), and over 183.2 acres (from backfilling over the pipeline).
  • Thinner deposits of 0.12 inches or more would cover over 251.7 acres from excavation and another 695.7 acres for backfill (total of 947.4 acres).
  • Over 134 acres of NJDEP 2014 hard clam beds would receive some level of additional sedimentation, with 76 acres receiving more than 1.2 inches of sedimentation.
  • The redistribution of sediments that fall from suspension, will bury benthic and demersal species, resulting in mortality of eggs and other life stages, including winter flounder that spawn in shallow, inshore waters in the project area. The FEIS specifically notes that eggs and larva of this species could be directly affected by excavation or by smothering in toxic-laden sediments during construction.
  • The FERC FEIS indicates that when benthic habitat is physically disrupted from dredging and smothering, the community can be expected to recolonize in roughly 1-3 years. However, this estimate does not account for the toxic-laden sediment which will now be unearthed, impacting the benthic layer and its viability as potential habitat for marine life.
  • If absorbed by phytoplankton, the contaminants risk bio-accumulation throughout the food chain and will significantly impair fish populations and the fishing industry which depends on these species.
  • Bottom dwelling marine life in or near the excavation will be exposed to toxins and therefore significantly harmed. Dredging up buried industrial toxins (like arsenic, lead, zinc and mercury) and organic compounds (PCBs, DDT, dioxins) from the seabed will poison fish, shellfish and marine life in the Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays. Recovery from such sedimentation for bottom-dwelling species such as surf clams could take 3 years, or even longer if the physical characteristics of the habitat are altered (e.g., sediment type, hydrology), resulting in recolonization of different species.
  • Construction of the pipeline would cause over 134 acres of NJDEP sport ocean fishing grounds to be subjected to some level of additional sedimentation. Across the Project Area, up to 573.3 acres of shallow bay waters would be subject to some level of additional sedimentation. If this sedimentation occurs during the spawning period of some fish, fish eggs could be smothered and die.

Construction of the Raritan Bay Loop of NESE would increase turbidity. The sediment resuspension and subsequent increase turbidity will result in direct and indirect adverse impacts on designated essential fish habitat.

  • Increases in turbidity can affect fish physiology and behavior which may impair migration, breeding, spawning and development.
  • Potential physiological effects from increase turbidity include mechanical abrasion of surface membranes, delayed larval and embryonic development, reduced bivalve pumping rates, and interference with respiratory functions.

Construction of the Raritan Bay Loop would go through the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site, specifically in Area 7 (Morgan Shore Approach HDD exit pit) and pipeline pre-lay trenching for about 1,000 feet in Area 11.

  • Offshore samplings of sediment by Williams/Transco near the Morgan Shore portion of the pipeline showed a greater number of exceedances of established thresholds for several contaminants including dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls, and heavy metals, such as mercury.
  • Disruption of this soil will push contaminated soil into the bay and further impact water quality and human health.
  • The currents in Raritan Bay will ensure that not all re-suspended sediment will fall back down to the seafloor, but will continue to mix in the water column.

Williams/Transco intends to discharge over 690,000 gallons of drilling fluid into the water of the Bay.

  • Williams/Transco has indicated that it will use biocides, which will contaminate the water quality and impact the food chain, increasing the impairment for fishing and shellfishing in these areas.

The process for the hydrostatic testing will also result in negative impacts to fisheries by killing fish eggs and larva, as well as by further disturbing the benthic habitat and layer of the Raritan Bay.

  • During the process, a hose would be placed into the bay which will syphon up 3.5 million gallons of water. The water will be syphoned at an extremely fast rate of 2,350 gallons per minute. The water will be filtered through a mesh screen before entering the pipeline. The position of the water intake will be halfway into the water column or at least 10 feet below the surface. Importantly, the Raritan Bay is a shallow waterway.
  • Therefore, due to the proximity of the intake, the shallowness of the water and the pressure of the intake, the benthic layer will be significantly disturbed. Juvenile and early stage adult fish and invertebrates could be impinged on the intake screens and zooplankton (including plankton) could be entrained or entrapped.
  • This will result in increased re-suspension of toxic sediment, increased turbidity, and the destruction of all larva and eggs near the intake.

Williams/Transco plans to release water, treated with a known toxin, used in hydrostatically testing the pipeline into the bay.

  • Their plan involves releasing 3.2 million gallons of seawater that was treated with the toxic chemical CORRTREAT 15316. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, CORRTREAT 15316 is a highly toxic substance harmful to humans and marine life.
  • Clariant, the manufacturer of CORRTREAT specifically notes on its Safety Data Sheet that “the product should not be allowed to enter drains, water courses, or the soil.” [Clariant, Safety Data Sheet: CORRTREAT 15316. Pg. 4.]

The construction of the Raritan Bay Loop would cross 8.1 miles of the Raritan Bay Significant Habitat Complex; and it would cross 7 recreational fishing grounds in NJ and NY waters that are designated as “prime fishing areas”.

  • The redistribution of sediments that fall from suspension, will bury benthic and demersal species, resulting in mortality of eggs and other life stages, including winter flounder that spawn in shallow, inshore waters in the project area.
  • The resuspension of toxic sediment will bioaccumulation osprey and bald eagle populations through ingestion of contaminated marine life.
  • There was no analysis provided to document anticipated synergistic effects of exposure to a combination of toxins to any marine species (benthic or pelagic, migratory or otherwise).

REGULATORY CONSIDERATIONS

  1. Under the Coastal Zone Management Rules, at N.J.A.C.7:7-9.5(c), development which lowers the water quality to such an extent as to interfere with the movement of fish along migratory pathways is prohibited.
    • The construction of the Raritan Bay Loop would threaten to harm marine mammals’ communication, navigation, travel, feeding and breeding with noise from construction as well as increased turbidity in the water, and it would kill (smother and poison) benthic communities from dredging and backfilling activities. Construction of NESE’s Raritan Bay Loop will impact the endangered Atlantic sturgeon’s migratory pathway, and harm to Atlantic sturgeon, which are benthic feeders, includes exposure to re- suspended contaminants, bioaccumulation of toxins from contamination of benthic invertebrates, seafloor and benthic habitat disturbances, noise, and vessel strikes.
  2. Currently, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) determined that the NESE Pipeline may affect, and is likely to adversely affect the right whale, fin whale, and Atlantic sturgeon. Therefore, formal consultation pursuant to the Endangered Species Act has been requested. Until consultation is finalized, the impacts to these species are unknown. [NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service. Revised Determination of Effect and Request for Consultation. Feb. 7, 2019.]
  3. Construction of the Raritan Bay Loop of NESE would violate NJ’s Surface Water Quality Standards.
    • Construction of the Raritan Bay Loop would pollute the water so that their existing uses, such as shellfish harvesting and the maintenance, migration, and propagation of natural and established biota, would be impaired, in violation of Surface Water Quality Standards – N.J.A.C. 7:9B-1.12(d).
    • Construction of the pipeline would increase the level of total suspended solids in Raritan Bay to an extent that it would render the water unsuitable for designated uses, in violation of N.J.A.C. 7:9B- 1.14(d)(7).
    • Construction would also resuspend toxic substances in the water column such that they would be detrimental to the natural aquatic biota, rendering the waters unsuitable for the designated uses, in violation of N.J.A.C. 7:9B-1.14(d)(12).
    • Resuspended sediment could also exceed numerical criteria for several contaminants, including mercury and copper, as set forth in N.J.A.C. 7:9B-1.14(d).
    • Construction would cause the suspension and eventual deposition of settleable solids in amounts that would be noticeable in the water and on aquatic substrata in quantities detrimental to the natural biota and rendering the waters unsuitable for the designated uses, in violation of N.J.A.C. 7:9B-1.14(d)(3).
    • By resuspending sediment in the water column, construction of the pipeline would also exceed numerical criteria for several contaminants, including mercury and copper, set forth in N.J.A.C. 7:9B- 1.14(f)(7),(g).
  4. According to N.J.A.C. 7:7A, Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules, the Department may not issue a Freshwater Wetlands permit unless the Project
    • will not cause or contribute to a violation of any applicable State water quality standard;
    • will not cause or contribute to a violation of any applicable toxic effluent standard or prohibition imposed pursuant to the Water Pollution Control Act;
    • will not cause or contribute to a significant degradation, as defined at 40 C.F.R. 230.10(c), of ground or surface waters;
    • is in the public interest, as determined by the Department in consideration of the following: The extent and permanence of the beneficial or detrimental effects which the proposed regulated activity may have on the public and private uses for which the property is suited; and
    • will not involve a discharge of dredged material or a discharge of fill material, unless the material is clean, suitable material free from toxic pollutants in toxic amounts, which meets Department rules for use of dredged or fill material.

Onland Issues

In New Jersey, the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project would result in a permanent loss of:

  • 3.9 acres of wetlands,
  • 14.5 acres of forest, and
  • 8.5 acres of upland vegetation.

Construction of the NESE Project would disturb another:

  • 10 acres of wetlands (6 of which are designated as exceptional value resources) and
  • 65.8 acres of upland vegetation (37.1 open acres + 28.7 acres of forest).

Forests help to address stormwater runoff, and the Department considers impacts to forested areas to be permanent if not restored within six months. Recovery of forested areas that are not permanently removed could take 50+ years, so the real permanent loss of forested area in NJ would be 43.2 acres.

The NESE Project in New Jersey would cross 14 streams/waterbodies (8 for the pipeline & access road, and 4 in construction worksites) and 5.2 Flood Hazard acres onland.

The Compressor Station 206 site is in the Millstone Watershed which is designated as impaired, and no new construction there can impair this watershed further.

Plans for construction of an infiltration basin to control stormwater runoff at the CS206 site need to meet requirements of Dam Safety Standards at N.J.A.C. 7:20. Williams/Transco initially submitted an application for a Dam Safety Permit in April/May 2019 – nearly one year after they submitted their second application for water permits to the Department on June 20, 2018 – and they continue to submit changes in plans to address concerns about the application expressed to them by the Department.

Construction of the Madison and Raritan Bay Loops would cross or be next to toxic or Superfund sites such as the Raritan Bay Slag & Global Sanitary Superfund Sites and E.I. DuPont DeNemours & Co.

Construction of the onland pipeline would go through acid producing soils, rendering re-vegetation extremely problematic, potentially exacerbating erosion and excess stormwater runoff.

REGULATORY CONSIDERATIONS

  1. Given the likely presence of acid producing soil in the areas where HDD is proposed, the permit applications to Land Use and Water Supply & Geoscience do not meet the Goals of the Stormwater Management Act Rules for stormwater management planning found at N.J.A.C. 7:8-2.2(a)(1) – Reduce flood damage, including damage to life and property or N.J.A.C. 7:8-2.2(a)(3) – Reduce soil erosion from any development or construction project. As has been noted in my prior comment and those of others, excavation in acid producing soils leads to poor revegetation possibility which then threatens increased risk of erosion and flooding.
  2. According to the Coastal Zone Management Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7-9.39(a), “Special hazard areas include areas with a known actual or potential hazard to public health, safety, and welfare, or to public or private property, such as the navigable air space around airports and seaplane landing areas, potential evacuation zones, and areas where hazardous substances as defined at N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11b are used or disposed, including adjacent areas and areas of hazardous material contamination.” (italics added)
  3. According to N.J.A.C. 7:7A, Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules, the Department may not issue a Freshwater Wetlands permit unless the Project –
    • will not cause or contribute to a violation of any applicable State water quality standard;
    • will not cause or contribute to a violation of any applicable toxic effluent standard or prohibition imposed pursuant to the Water Pollution Control Act;
    • will not cause or contribute to a significant degradation, as defined at 40 C.F.R. 230.10(c), of ground or surface waters;
    • is in the public interest, as determined by the Department in consideration of the following: The extent and permanence of the beneficial or detrimental effects which the proposed regulated activity may have on the public and private uses for which the property is suited;
    • will not involve a discharge of dredged material or a discharge of fill material, unless the material is clean, suitable material free from toxic pollutants in toxic amounts, which meets Department rules for use of dredged or fill material; and
    • in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:7A-2.7, is part of a project that in its entirety complies with the Stormwater Management rules at N.J.A.C. 7:8.
  4. With planned trenching and HDD construction of parts of the Madison Loop through or near toxic sites, the applications for permits for the NESE Project do not meet the Goals of the Stormwater Management Act Rules for stormwater management planning found at N.J.A.C. 7:8-2.2(a)(6) – Prevent, to the greatest extent feasible, an increase in nonpoint pollution.
  5. Considering the inappropriate and/or incomplete data about soils and geology constraints for the proposed retention basins and the tie-in pipeline at Compressor Station 206, and incomplete consideration of alternative sites for Compressor Station 206 that would not involve a wetland or have less adverse impact on the aquatic ecosystem, the permit applications for the NESE Project do not meet all the conditions listed in N.J.S.A. 13:9B-9, the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act.
  6. Considering the identified issues with the design of the infiltration basin at the Compressor Station 206 site, and lack of consideration of the immediate and long-term impacts from all of NESE’s pipeline construction, the applications for water permits for the NESE Project do not meet the Goals of the Stormwater Management Act Rules for stormwater management planning found at N.J.A.C. 7:8-2.2(a).

Greenhouse Gas Issues

Building and operating a 32,000 horsepower gas-fired compressor station and 23.4 miles of offshore pipeline that will have a 50-60 year minimum useful will create an unneeded but available supply of natural gas at a time when we have acknowledged the need for drastic emission reductions. This Project goes against the renewable energy goals of New Jersey & New York, and will see renewables continue to be blocked from fair market entry.

Construction and operation of the compressor station and pipelines that are part of the NESE Project would exacerbate climate change and increase the severity and intensity of the impacts associated with it.

FERC acknowledged the specific vulnerability of New York City to climate change by listing projected changes on page 4-388 in the FEIS (1/25/19) for NESE:

New Jersey is an Ozone Compromised Region, and the proposed Compressor Station 206 would emit 33.41 tons of Methane (CH4) and a projected 3.29 tons of Nitrous Oxide (N2O) every year, and this does not include methane leaked from the pipelines.

Compressor stations and gas pipelines leak methane – the most potent short-term greenhouse gas.

Even over CO2’s average 100-year lifetime in the atmosphere, methane yields 25 to 32 times the global warming potential of CO2. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, producing 84 times the global warming potential (GWP) of an equivalent weight of CO2 over a 20-year period. Nitrous oxide is worse still, creating 298 times the global warming potential of CO2 over a 100-year period, as well as causing depletion of stratospheric ozone, leading to more sun burns and skin cancer.

In short, methane and nitrous oxide are much worse greenhouse gases than CO2, especially when we consider the speed with which we need to act. CO2 is only the most damaging greenhouse gas emission because there is so much more of it emitted worldwide.

NESE’s Applications & reviews clearly omitted assessing actual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, both initially and cumulatively, for the impact on Central New Jersey from Compressor Station 206 (CS206).

* Note: Any accounting for fugitive emissions (leaks) is likely grossly underestimated.

The threshold for comparing this to the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) threshold of 75,000 tons per year of emissions of 132,720 tons of Greenhouse Gas Equivalent per year (as noted in the ap4plication) was not triggered because CS206 was not considered a major source for the NJDEP.


According to NOAA / NASA, 2018 was the 4th warmest year on record (since 1880). “2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt.

Since the 1880s, the average global surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius).

This warming has been driven in large part by increased emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases caused by human activities, according to Schmidt. (SOURCE: nasa.gov)

The leakage of methane from pipelines and methane release of will contribute to ongoing climate change with real impacts to New Jersey. The construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure will hamper New Jersey’s clean energy goals and is against the State’s Global Warming Response Act goals.

Health Issues

In addition to threats to health from the toxic emissions from the gas-fired compressor station units, the NESE Project’s impact on climate change would also harm our health, security and economy from leaking and burning of natural gas – more significant flooding, hurricanes, heat waves, air and water temperature increases, other health risks and the likelihood of infectious diseases and stress, and displacement.

  • Extreme weather events not only result in damage to property, businesses, infrastructure and the environment, but also trigger stress and depression in people and are associated with costly health risks like water borne infections as well as increases in dampness and mold that trigger more allergies and respiratory disorders. Milder, shorter winters have increased the population of disease-carrying insects in our area. Longer and wetter seasons lead to more asthma, allergies and respiratory disorders. Flooding events are a pathway for pollution and bacteria to enter our waterways.
  • As the climate warms and atmospheric carbon dioxide increases, the amount and potency of the allergens like ragweed and airborne fungi increases, with significant consequences for exacerbating asthma and other forms of respiratory distress.
  • Other consequences could include higher cooling costs and a heightened risk of heat stroke.
  • Warmer temperatures will also exacerbate the risk of vector-borne diseases like Lyme and West Nile

Toxins from proposed Compressor Station 206

The Department and FERC have denied requests to conduct a Health Impact Assessment around the site of the proposed Compressor Station 206 even though the emissions will contain cancer-causing elements; the Department adopted more stringent reporting thresholds for HAPs after issuing an Air Pollution Permit for Compressor Station 206 under the less protective standards; and the emissions from Compressor Station 206 will exceed the levels of the new, more protective HAPs standards. NJDEP determined that the compressor station would be a “minor” source of air pollution and, as such, the permit issued by the NJDEP was for each turbine as a separate unit rather than basing their decision on facility-wide emissions from two turbines at a site adjacent to another air polluting industrial facility – Trap Rock Quarry.

Williams/Transco reported that they expect the two gas-fired turbines at Compressor Station 206 to emit the following each year:

Formaldehyde

  • Known Carcinogen
  • Suspected gastrointestinal/liver, immune system, neuro, reproductive, respiratory, and skin/sense organ toxicant

Acetaldehyde

  • Possible human carcinogen
  • Suspected cardiovascular/blood, developmental, gastrointestinal/liver, neuro, respiratory, skin/sense organ toxicant

Acrolein

  • Known irritant of eyes, skin, nasal passage & respiratory system
  • Lethal if high level of exposure for short time

Benzene

  • Known Carcinogen
  • Recognized developmental and reproductive toxicants

Ethylbenzene

  • Possible human carcinogen
  • Suspected blood/cardiovascular, developmental, endocrine, gastrointestinal/liver, kidney, neuro, reproductive, respiratory, and skin/sense organ toxicant

Naphthalene

  • Possible human carcinogen
  • Suspected cardiovascular/blood, developmental, gastrointestinal/liver, neuro, respiratory, skin/sense organ toxicant

Propylene Oxide

  • Possible human carcinogen
  • Known irritant of eyes, skin, nasal passage & respiratory system

Toluene

  • Recognized developmental toxicant
  • Suspected cardiovascular/blood, gastrointestinal/liver, immune system, kidney, neuro-, reproductive, respiratory, and skin/sense organ toxicant

Xylenes

  • Suspected cardiovascular, developmental, liver, immune system, kidney, respiratory, skin, reproductive, and immune system toxin

Ammonia

  • Suspected gastrointestinal/liver, immune system, neuro, reproductive, respiratory, and skin/sense organ
  • toxicant

Toxins from proposed Raritan Bay Loop

The re-suspension of toxic-and-pathogen-laden sediment and the discharge of chemically laden drilling fluid would have significant health impacts to the people of New Jersey. The toxins include arsenic which is known to cause a variety of cancers in humans. Lead, another heavy metal which samples found exceeded the state thresholds is proven to cause neurologic impairment, especially in children. The re-suspended PCBs will enter the food chain and have significant effects on human health. More than 90% of human exposure to PCBs is through food, including fish and shellfish.

The currents in both the Raritan and Lower New York Bays run counter-clockwise. Therefore, both the toxic-and- pathogen-laden sediment and the chemically laced drilling fluid will be caught by the currents and pushed toward the shores of the Bayshore. The pipeline construction is planned to go through Areas 7 and 11 of the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund Site where the slag is contaminated by known pollutants such as lead, arsenic, antimony, copper, iron and chromium. Other metal contaminants here include manganese, vanadium and zinc. EPA sampling has found contaminates in the soil and surface waters in these areas. These known harmful chemicals may make their way onshore, polluting the coast and impacting public health.

A release of 3.2 million gallons of seawater that was treated with CORRTREAT 15316 from hydrostatic testing of the Raritan Bay Loop poses a threat to the health of people and marinelife. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, CORRTREAT 15316 is a highly toxic substance harmful to humans and marine life. Clariant, the manufacturer of CORRTREAT specifically notes on its Safety Data Sheet that “the product should not be allowed to enter drains, water courses, or the soil.” [Clariant, Safety Data Sheet: CORRTREAT 15316. Pg. 4.]

REGULATORY CONSIDERATIONS

NESE does not serve essential health or safety needs of the municipality in which the proposed regulated activity is located, and the proposed use does not serve existing needs of the residents of the State.

Reference: Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules 7:7A-1.3 Definitions
“Compelling public need” means that based on specific facts, the proposed regulated activity will serve an essential health or safety need of the municipality in which the proposed regulated activity is located, that the public health and safety benefit from the proposed use and that the proposed use is required to serve existing needs of the residents of the State, and that there is no other means available to meet the established public need.

NJDEP may only issue a Freshwater Wetlands Individual Permit if the agency determines that the regulated activity is in the public interest after considering the “functions and values provided by the freshwater wetlands and probable individual and cumulative impacts of the regulated activity on public health and fish and wildlife.” [N.J.A.C. 7:7A–10.2(b)12vii]. The term “public health” requires the Department to consider the potential safety and air pollution impacts of proposed Compressor Station 206, Madison Loop and the Raritan Bay Loop as part of its “public interest” analysis.

Safety Issues

Natural gas is primarily methane, a highly flammable and explosive gas.

Data and plans about addressing the risks of and preventing catastrophic accidents from increased corrosion and leaks on components of the compressor station and the pipelines have not been fully disclosed by Transco; and explosions, fires and leaks would likely contribute to degradation of water quality and impact wetlands.

Franklin Township received a report from a local resident and pipeline engineer expert through its Franklin Township Task Force (FTTF) detailing the erosion risks of Transco’s Mainline A and C segments traversing through Franklin Township, installed in 1950 and 1969 respectively, and another report from an expert who reviewed confidential CEII data provided by Williams/Transco to FERC and concluded that he could not independently verify or evaluate claims of Transco pertaining to safety of Transco’s existing and proposed pipeline system parameters – pipe grade, thickness and diameter as well as maximum operating pressure (MAOP) that can change by pipe segment – since important information was missing.

Williams/Transco has not provided any details to FERC or NJDEP regarding the current state of their aging pipeline segments, any reports of degradation of pipeline integrity, or any specific counter-measures taken over the past 50 years to abate the propagation of corrosion on its pipeline system despite Transco claiming to inspect mainlines A and C every 10 years.

Williams/Transco has a poor safety record in the management of its pipelines, compressor stations, and processing plants. In the past ten years, facilities of Williams/Transco have been cited for numerous violations for not following their own safety procedures, and they have reported at least 15 incidents of explosions and/or fires at their facilities to PHMSA.

REGULATORY CONSIDERATIONS

NJDEP may only issue a Freshwater Wetlands Individual Permit if the agency determines that the regulated activity is in the public interest after considering the “functions and values provided by the freshwater wetlands and probable individual and cumulative impacts of the regulated activity on public health and fish and wildlife.” [N.J.A.C. 7:7A–10.2(b)12vii]. The term “public health” requires the Department to consider the potential safety and air pollution impacts of proposed Compressor Station 206, Madison Loop and the Raritan Bay Loop as part of its “public interest” analysis.

Need Issues

There is no demonstrated need for NESE, and existing facilities can and will continue to meet energy demands in National Grid’s service territory.

Williams/Transco and National Grid have failed to establish a “demonstrated need that cannot be satisfied by existing facilities.” The alleged purpose of the project is to bring an “incremental” amount of natural gas to National Grid’s service territory to meet winter heating needs. However, the need for this project has not been independently documented, and studies show existing facilities can currently meet the heating needs for the service territory. Williams/Transco and National Grid have claimed that the project is necessary to meet a 10% increase in natural gas demand over the next decade; however the projection is based on outdated information.(1) Independent studies contradict the claims of Williams/Transco and National Grids for these reasons:

  • The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which maintains and regulates the state’s energy system, found that energy use in New York is expected to decrease over the next decade.(2)
  • The Long Island Power Authority, which serves 1.1 million customers on Long Island, the Rockaways and Queens, has also forecasted flat energy demand until 2035.(3)
  • New York City recently passed the most aggressive building energy efficiency standards in the nation. The Climate Mobilization Act will require buildings over 25,000 square feet to cut climate emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Therefore, residential and commercial buildings will be required to invest in energy efficiency which will further decrease heating demands over the coming decades.
  • According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, from 2000 to 2050, natural gas consumption in the residential and commercial sectors will remain flat due to efficiency gains and population shifts which counterbalance demand growth.(4)

Williams/Transco’s justification for the alleged increase in demand is based on the locally mandated elimination of heavy No. 6 and No. 4 fuel oil from use in residential boilers, from which Williams/Transco and National Grid claim they will convert roughly 8,000 customers per year to natural gas.(5) This claim has also been questioned and challenged based on the following facts:

  • All of the No. 6 boilers in New York City residential buildings were converted from heavy oil long ago.
  • The New York City Housing Authority stopped using both No. 6 and No. 4 oil and converted to natural gas. Currently, the Housing Authority relies on natural gas for 98% of its heating needs.(6)
  • The oil burners which convert to No. 2 oil will be required to use No. 2 oil mixed with biodiesel. New York City currently requires 5% biodiesel mixed with ultralow sulfur No. 2. In 2025, the standard increases to 10% and eventually 20% by 2034.(7)
  • Less than 446 No. 4 oil boilers (which must be converted by 2030 under New York City regulations) exist in National Grid’s service area. Even if all were converted to natural gas and not ultra-low sulfur No. 2 oil and biodiesel, this conversion does not require anything close to the 400 million cubic yards the applicant is seeking to bring to New York per day.(8)
  • The remaining oil burners either use or will convert to ultralow sulfur No. 2 oil, which can replace heavier dirtier home heating oil without any modifications to furnace systems. Due to the fact both No. 2 and biodiesel can be adopted without any modifications to home furnace systems, it acts as a true bridge to renewable energy and energy efficiency. Home and building owners will not need to invest in a new heating system and therefore will not be deterred from future distributed renewable energy investments or energy efficiency investments.

Thus, the projection and conversion statistics highlight how demand is currently met, and will continue to be met, through “existing facilities.” Moreover, with the new focus and requirements in New York City, investments in energy efficiency will be expected. Energy efficiency is readily available and is a cheaper and more environmentally sound. Energy efficiency programs have proven to be the most cost effective means of both lowering rates and reducing carbon emissions.(9)

(1) 350 Brooklyn, False Demand: The Case Against the Williams Fracked Gas Pipeline. March 2019.

(2) New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), Power Trends: New York’s evolving Electric Grid 2017, p. 12. The report’s data is from the 2017 Load & Capacity Data Report, known as “the Gold Book.”

(3) LIPA, “Integrated Resource Plan and Repowering Studies – FAQs” (2017).

(4) U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2019 (Jan. 24, 2019), p. 82.

(5) See, Mark Harrington, supra. National Grid’s own proffered energy plan for 80% GHG reductions by 2050 calls for increased burning of natural gas for heating from 55% to 60% of heating sources. For natural gas GHG reductions, it primarily recommends converting half of all vehicles to electric by 2030. National Grid, Northeast 80×50 Pathway (June 15, 2018).

(6) City of New York, Local Law 43 of 2010 and Rules of the City of New York, Title 15, §§ 2-15(b)(2), (c)(1) and (d). The Rules were promulgated by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (“NYCDEP”). In 2010, only one percent of buildings were using No. 4 and No. 6 heating oil – but those boilers’ emissions were causing 86 percent of soot pollution in the City. D. Seamonds, D. Lowell, T. Balon, The Bottom of the Barrel: How the Dirtiest Heating Oil Pollutes Our Air and Harms Our Health (Environmental Defense Fund, 2016).

(7) See Local Law 119 of 2016 and NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services, “New York City Submits Strong Comments to EPA Supporting Biodiesel,” Biodiesel Magazine (Oct. 2017).

(8) New York City adopted more comprehensive legislation in 2015, Local Law 38, that effectively bans the burning of No. 6 fuel oil for any purpose by January 1, 2020, and the burning of No. 4 fuel oil by January 1, 2030 (except that any boiler replaced before the deadline must use a cleaner fuel). City of New York. “Local Laws of The City of New York for the Year 2015, No. 38” (Apr. 16, 2015.

(9) See, The Cost of Saving Electricity Through Energy Efficiency Programs Funded by Utility Customers: 2009 – 2015. Energy Analysis and Environmental Impact Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (June 2018).

REGULATORY CONSIDERATIONS

Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act – The NJDEP’s determination of “public interest” must consider the “relative extent of the public and private need for the proposed regulated activity.” N.J.S.A. 13:9B-11(b) and N.J.A.C. 7:7A–10.2(b)12ii

The criteria for “need” for a project under the Natural Gas Act, governing FERC’s decisions, is distinct from the criteria from “need” under the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations as well as the “public interest” under New Jersey’s Freshwater Wetlands and Water Quality Certificate Standards.

The NESE Project does not meet the standards for “public interest” noted in N.J.S.A. 13:9B-11, the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act when one looks at the need to preserve natural resources; the relative extent of the public and private need for the regulated activity; the practicability of using reasonable alternative locations and methods (e.g., renewable energy sources and energy efficiency initiatives); the economic value both public and private, of the proposed regulated activity to the general area; and the ecological value of the freshwater wetlands and probable impact on public health and fish and wildlife.

Note:

Many points noted in this document, along with their references, are from FERC’s 1/25/19 Final Environmental Impact Statement for NESE, the 5/2/19 comments provided to the NJDEP by attorneys from Clean Ocean Action & the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the report by Suzanne Mattei (3/19/19), False Demand: The case against the Williams fracked gas pipeline. 350.org.

Attachments / Links:

ACTION ALERT – Make the Next Few Weeks Count – Speak Up Often

During the week of May 20, call the Governor often and tell him that you expect the NJDEP to deny the water permit applications for the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Project by June 5.

Call Governor Murphy between 9AM and 5PM at 866-586-4069

People in NJ and NY understand the risks and long-term impacts from the NESE Project to our health, safety, well-being & economy:

  • more air pollution with associated health problems
  • spread of toxics onland and in the Bay that threaten the health of people and life in the Bay
  • methane releases & risks of fires or explosions from the compressor station and leaks from pipelines that are over 50 years old
  • more frequent & intense weather events – causing flooding, destruction, displacement and lost income – from additional reliance on fossil fuels for the decades-long projected lifespan of NESE

People in NJ & NY are on the record opposing this dangerous Project:

  • On May 15, 2019, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) conditionally denied the Water Quality Certificate and permits for the Raritan Bay Loop part of NESE in NY waters since it would likely have significant Water Quality impacts in New York State. Williams/Transco can reapply since the application was denied “without prejudice”.
  • On May 14, 2019, Franklin Township Council passed a Resolution opposing issuance of permits by the NJDEP for the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project.
  • Thirteen Towns in the Bayshore community, along with Monmouth County Freeholders, passed resolutions opposing NESE during March and April 2019: Aberdeen, Atlantic Highlands, Hazlet, Highlands, Holmdel, Keansburg, Keyport, Long Branch, Matawan, Middletown, Rumson, Sea Bright, and Union.

Now, the ball is in NJDEP’s court to call the balls & strikes

  • Governor Murphy said, in response to questions of Junior Romero of Food & Water Watch on a Call the Governor event: “We review these things assiduously to make sure we do it right.”
  • The NJDEP has until June 5 to do the right thing and reject the permit applications.
  • The NJDEP decisions cannot be arbitrary & capricious in violation of laws and regulations.
  • The NJDEP is both the environmental rule-maker and rule-applier, and they decide the relevance of comments from the public as well as information from William/Transco in their best effort to be objective in their application and enforcement of the rules.
  • The NJDEP decisions must not be influenced by the “Matthew Effect” (found for baseball umpires’ unconscious biases in judgments of their calls of balls & strikes) of unconscious biases that could be influenced by the vast sums of money being spent in Trenton by lobbyists of Williams/Transco.

Williams/Transco continues to update and change information about the permit applications in response to issues raised by the public and questions from the NJDEP. They withdrew their permits in June 2018 because the supplemental information had not yet satisfied the regulatory requirements of New Jersey, and they claimed that this was done to give the NJDEP time needed to review the added information before making a decision. Their re-submitted applications (June 18, 2018) still do not satisfy all applicable regulations. Of note, in the suit filed against E.I. DuPont DeNemours & Co. by the State of New Jersey on 03/27/19 for the Parlin site, it was written that:

 The State has the ability “through the Department, to protect, conserve and manage the natural resources of the State, which are by law precious and invaluable public resources held by the State in trust for the benefit of the public; and the rights of the people of the State to enjoy their natural resources free from interference by pollution and contamination.” (#208, pages 61-62)

“The use, enjoyment, and existence of uncontaminated natural resources is a right common to the general public.” (#207, page 61)

“As the trustee over the State’s natural resources, the State has a duty to protect and restore all natural resources of the State and protect the health and comfort of its inhabitants.” (#216, page 64) Accessed from: https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases19/Parlin_Filed-Complaint_and_Jury- Demand.pdf

It’s time for the NJDEP to acknowledge that the NESE Project is not in the public interest, will not benefit the municipalities where it would be located, and does not meet all regulatory requirements, including those of Stormwater Management, for the permits.