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 – NJDEP Update

NJDEP has heard from us about issues with the Freshwater Wetlands Permit Application. 

  • See the attached transcript of the comments (PDF) at the November 5, 2018 hearing at Franklin High School.
  • By November 20 (the deadline to send comments to NJDEP about this permit), over 1,000 comments were sent. 

NJDEP is still reviewing the permit applications and asking Williams/Transco for more information.  Permits are needed from NJDEP for Freshwater Wetlands, Flood Hazard Area, Coastal Wetlands and Waterfront Development.

  • None of the applications have been deemed to be “technically complete”.
  • Applications were received by the NJDEP on June 20, 2018, and they have one calendar year to either grant or deny each permit.

NJDEP stated that there will be another hearing, but the details have not been publicized.  We suspect that the next hearing will be in Old Bridge or Sayreville.

ACTION ALERT: Review NJDEP Application Documents

For the NJDEP hearing, you can review application material from Williams/Transco to NJDEP at:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Bm6kTq6Fv0JJIC-ra2pOXBH5SPYGWf0c?usp=sharing

These were obtained from the NJDEP through an OPRA request.

The hearing on November 5 is for the Freshwater Wetlands application.

Application for Freshwater Wetlands

Read full ACTION ALERT for the November 5 meeting on TAPinto

Note:  Files on the Google drive with “2017” contain material from the original application that was withdrawn.  The current applications, submitted June 20, 2018, should be marked as 2018.  Not all files are clearly labeled, however.

Keep sending comments to FERC

Send comments to FERC that request a “reset” for the DEIS by asking them to publish a revised/supplemental DEIS that addresses all new information and all concerns of the public. Tell FERC that the March 23, 2018 DEIS was missing critical information, dismissed comments of the public & elected officials, and lacked supportive studies or data for FERC’s conclusions. Additionally, Williams/Transco submitted thousands of pages of new information and reports that needs to be reviewed and analyzed in a document that FERC publishes during the time period when the public can truly provide meaningful comments. These submissions were in May and June 2018 – after the DEIS was published & after the end of the “official” time period for sending comments to FERC.

FERC claims that they consider ALL comments they receive. Many people need to let them know that the DEIS was not acceptable.

SEND COMMENTS TO FERC NOW, AND COPY NJDEP.

The DEIS was incomplete & misleading.  Tell FERC that you want a revised or supplemental DEIS and an additional comment period of at least 45 days.

When you send a comment to FERC, also forward that comment to the NJDEP –

  • Commissioner Catherine McCabe: Commissioner@dep.nj.go
  • Director Ruth Foster: Ruth.Foster@dep.nj.gov

You can also forward your comments to your elected officials and ask them to support the opposition to NESE.

12/29/2017 Transco provides data dump update to FERC regarding Raritan Bay construction emissions

December 29, Transco posted two files to FERC in the link below.  If FERC is down, we can provide you the files.  Just let us know.

https://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20171229-5010

In this update, there are two files:
1. Transco_NESE_Supplemental_Information_2017-1228.PDF
2. Appendix_D_MOVES2014a_Output_Files.PDF -Raw Data Dump

Transco did not follow FERC’s instructions to break it out into Year 1 and Year 2.  Instead Transco displayed all the construction as if it were to occur in 2 months (January and July) during 2018.  Obviously, since the DEIS is not issued yet, these dates do not reflect any real timeline.

Transco often provides data that does not meet the requirements from FERC.  The key question is, will enough public and elected officials ‘tell’ FERC to not accept this inferior data?  Without public and elected officials comments, FERC will move ahead and accept this data.

How can you ‘tell’ FERC this is not acceptable?  There are 2 ways.
1.  On Twitter.com – Tweeting to @CoryBooker @SenBooker @SenatorBobSmith @NJDEP @EPA asking their support to tell @FERC @FERChatterjee @CLaFleurFERC @FERCRPowelson that the Construction emissions data from Transco for CP17-101 is insufficient and does not follow the requirements from FERC and requires FERC to ensure data is fully met prior to issuing the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement).   People can also tweet about the other gaps that we have identified that are not included in preparation for the DEIS.

2. Comment to FERC as a registered intervenor updating FERC the construction emissions data does not meet FERC’s requirements and that FERC must ensure data is fully provided as a mandatory requirement prior to the DEIS.  Additionally outlining the gaps in data and analysis not performed to fully analyze environmental impact of the proposed project.  Note: if you need email addresses for elected officials, EPA and NJDEP to forward your FERC comment, please email us at stopftcompressor (at) yahoo (dot) com.

On www.scrap-nese.org there are instructions how to register as an intervenor and how to submit a comment.  Please bare with our website, we are working to update and improve it to keep it inline with the progress.  As a small group, the Steering Committee is still new to website editing.

Any questions, please feel free to email us at stopftcompressor (at) yahoo (dot) com.

 

 

Some Denied Permits: Hope Amid Chaos

Though there appear to be attempts in Washington D.C. to undo environmental protections and grant FERC more power through proposed legislation and actions of the EPA and Department of the Interior, there have been some encouraging developments in the courts and with state agencies that have supported protections of air and water quality.

 

FERC’S ANALYSIS OF GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS WAS FOUND TO
BE INADEQUATE SINCE IT DID NOT CONSIDER EMISSIONS FROM THE PIPELINE TO THE END USE OF THE GAS


August 21, 2017 – Sierra Club v. FERC, Case No. 16-1329
A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had not properly analyzed the effects of burning natural gas on climate change before approving the pipeline. They ruled that FERC must consider a pipeline’s cumulative downstream greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of the natural gas transported by the pipeline as part of its environmental review. This ruling vacated and remanded a 2016 Order by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that had authorized construction and operation of the Southeast Market Pipelines Project (Project) by granting Section 7 certificates to three natural gas pipelines in Alabama, Georgia and Florida that make up the Project :

  • Florida Southeast Connection, LLC (Florida Southeast Connection Project
  • Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (Hillabee Expansion Project)
  • Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC (Sabal Trail Project)

Docket #s CP14-554-000, CP15-16-000, CP15-17-000

http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/ferc-failed-to-adequately-consider-29867/

 

NYSDEC DENIAL OF CONSTITUTION PIPELINE CWA PERMIT
WAS UPHELD BY THE SECOND CIRCUIT COURT


Constitution Pipeline (CP13-499) – NY State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Denial of Water Permit was upheld in court where, on August 18, 2017, the US Court of Appeals – 2nd Circuit concluded: “Insofar as the petition contends that the NYSDEC Decision is a nullity on the ground that it was untimely, the petition is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction; to the extent that the petition challenges the NYSDEC Decision on the merits, the petition is denied.” Note: FERC approved the Constitution Pipeline project in 2014.

https://www.pipelinelaw.com/2016/08/05/constitution-pipeline-cases-reflect-tension-in-states-roles-in-permitting-natural-gas-projects/
https://www.pipelinelaw.com/2017/08/31/second-circuit-upholds-state-veto-constitution-pipeline-project-via-denial-water-quality-certification/

 

NJDEP DENIED PENNEAST PIPELINE’S
CLEAN WATER ACT (CWA) PERMIT


6/28/17: Noting that the Clean Water Act (CWA 401 and 404) permit applications were very incomplete for PennEast, the NJDEP denied their applications for permits. PennEast (CP15-558) could not complete the surveys needed for their permit applications because over 65% of NJ’s landowners did not allow them onto their property. However, if PennEast receives a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from FERC, they will then have the authority to gain access to properties for the surveying needed for these permits, and they will likely then reapply for the CWA 401 and 404 permits.

http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2017/06/nj_dep_denies_permits_needed_for_penneast_pipeline.html

 

NJ’S RATE COUNCIL DECLARED THAT THERE IS NO NEED
FOR BUILDING THE PENNEAST PIPELINE
& THE REQUESTED RATE OF RETURN WAS EXCESSIVE


https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3106853/Comments-of-the-New-Jersey-Division-of-Rate.pdf
is in 9/12/16 in FERC Accession No. 20160912-6003(31683531)

 

NYSDEC DENIED A WATER PERMIT, BUT FERC DECIDED THAT NYSDEC “WAIVED” THEIR RIGHT TO ISSUE OR DENY A PERMIT SINCE THE DECISION WAS OVER A YEAR AFTER THE INITIAL APPLICATION


On 8/30/17, the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation conditionally denied Section 401 Water Quality Certification stream crossing permits for Millennium’s proposed 7.8 mile Valley Lateral pipeline project (C)P16-17). Then, at a 9/17/17 FERC hearing, it was “clarified” that the one-year period to review an application for the Water Quality Certificate started with “receipt” of application – not after determining it was “complete”.

http://www.bakerbotts.com/ideas/publications/2017/09/ferc-rules-that-new-york-state

 

WEST VIRGINIA REVOKES CWA 401 PERMIT IN WAKE OF HURRICANES HARVEY AND IRMA & WILL NOW REVIEW IT MORE THOROUGHLY UNDER WV’s STREAM ANTI-DEGRADATION POLICY


Sept. 7, 2017 – WVDEC revoked the Section 401 Water Quality Certification that they issued for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project (March 2017 & reaffirmed May 2017) one day before they would have needed to defend this in Court. (FERC Docket No. CP16-10). This came after a lawsuit by Appalachian Mountain Advocates on behalf of plaintiffs who argued the DEP’s analysis of the project’s effect on water quality in West Virginia was woefully incomplete.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pipelines-bombshell-west-virginia-revokes-approval_us_59bb2c3ae4b06b71800c380c

October 10/11, 2017: 4th Circuit sent the WQ permit back to WVDEP for further review.

https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/special_reports/marcellus/court-ruling-highlights-unanswered-questions-on-mountain-valley-pipeline/article_044cd2d7-83ce-5ab3-9567-00bb6e2b92fd.html

 

NORTH CAROLINA DEQ DELAYS DECISION ON
WATER QUALITY PERMIT


Sept. 14, 2017 – The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality issued notice to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that the project “involves numerous stream crossings that have the potential to affect downstream water quality both temporarily during construction and permanently.” (CP15-554) The department noted that “more site-specific detail is necessary to ensure that downstream water quality is protected.” The Governor delayed the Water Quality permit decision until December.

http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/north-carolina-environmental-agency-delays-decision-on-water-quality-permit/article_b3acc74b-2b20-5bcc-b89f-3233fe07d7d5.html