ACTION ALERT – SEND COMMENTS TO NJDEP BY APRIL 6, 2020 (5PM)

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.   

The NESE Project has been stopped twice in New York and three times in New Jersey when prior applications for permits were withdrawn and/or denied.  Now, following the 4th set of applications in January 2020, it’s time for the NJDEP to deny the permit applications with prejudice (a.k.a. “for good”).  YOUR COMMENTS ARE NEEDED!

Many of the concerns of people in NJ & NY have been heard, and they need to be voiced again about the 2020 permit applications.

NJDEP has issued a comment period for the January 2020 applications that ends on April 6, 2020 at 5PM.  

NJDEP has until May 6, 2020 to issue their decisions about the permit applications.

TO DO NOW

1) Submit your comment in opposition to the project today via these easy online links where the letter is already written, and you just need to add your identifying information + any additional comments you’d like.

2) Attached are sample written comments/points that are relevant to the NJDEP’s current review of applications as well as political points (such as climate change impacts).

Recommendations

  1. Write separate comments for each topic or point.
    • Using the attached comment statements, you could do a “word search” for a topic or concern of interest to you.
    • On the next page is a list of the attached comment topics with provided information.
  2. Choose points from what is provided on the attached comment ideas/points & use them to create your own individual comments by copying/pasting what you want to use into a Word document and adding to it.  Save it.  
  3. Include your full name and address at the end of all comment letters.
  4. Send each comment as an attachment (the Word document or that document saved as a PDF) via email to NESEcomment@dep.nj.gov
  5. Send your comments to the following people in NJDEP & the Governor, too, by email.  Emails are listed below so that you can copy & paste them into your email.  You could also copy your local State Senators and Representatives.  
  6. For the Subject of your email, copy & paste this into the space – Transco NESE Comments

You’re sending Comments on NESE – Program Interest # 0000-01-1001.3; Activity #: LUP 200001

Comment Topics – Elaborated Points are in the attached documents.

COMMENT 1: Construction of the NESE Project threatens water quality, increased stormwater flooding, and threatened & endangered species.

  • Construction of a stormwater basin at the proposed Compressor Station 206 site does not include complete plans that account for the specific soil type that exists there.
  • Impacts to the habitat for the State threatened barred owl as well as protected vernal pool habitats at the proposed Compressor Station 206 site were not adequately assessed or avoided.
  • Construction Schedule of the Raritan Bay Loop was reduced from 12 months to 7 months.
  • A shortened timeline increases the intensity of work, so the overall impacts will be magnified.  
  • Noise Impacts from Pile Drivings – It is not clear if the construction schedule for these activities has changed with the compressed construction schedule for the Raritan Bay Loop, but their requests for harassment permission have increased.
  • Dredging up toxics has not been avoided by construction of the Raritan Bay Loop, and this will likely cause long-term harm that was not accounted for in the applications.
  • To reach a conclusion that the impacts on water quality would be short-lived, temporary and localized neglects to consider the unusual tidal flows in Raritan Bay, the chain-reactions from destroyed habitat and food sources for marine life, and the contamination of food sources for marine life and people.
  • NESE’s Raritan Bay Loop’s Undisputed, Devastating Impact on Shellfish Beds and Benthic Communities 
  • Williams/Transco has not sufficiently identified permanent, temporary, and secondary/indirect impacts from onland construction, and they have not shown plans to avoid and/or mitigate these impacts.
    • Acid Producing Soils
    • Construction through or near Superfund Sites & other toxic sites

COMMENT 2: Williams/Transco did not demonstrate a “compelling public need” for the NESE Project that meets requirements of NJ’s Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-10.4 or, alternatively, demonstrate an extraordinary hardship from denial of a permit.

The NESE Project does not serve an essential health or safety need of the municipality in which it would be constructed, and its proposed use does not serve existing needs of residents of the State.  

  • Air Quality & Health Impacts
  • Safety Risks – Fires or Explosions

Additionally, the “need” for the NESE Project has been refuted by reports, and the needs of the State that are currently focused on fighting climate change impacts would be harmed by the NESE Project despite claims by Williams/Transco about “benefits” to New Jersey.

COMMENT 3: NESE is not in the Public Interest.

  • Need to preserve natural resources
  • Relative extent of the public and private need for the regulated activity
  • Practicability of using reasonable alternative locations and methods
  • Economic value
  • Ecological value of the freshwater wetlands and probable impact on public health and fish and wildlife.  

COMMENT 4: Contaminants that would be unearthed, suspended and redistributed in the Raritan Bay exceed “acceptable” levels.  Exceedances were found by the NYSDEC for heavy metals (copper & mercury) in New York waters, too.   Thus, construction of the Raritan Bay Loop of the NESE Project would (a) negatively impact surface water quality, and (b) harm threatened and endangered species and their habitat.

Additionally, the shortening of the in-water construction schedule raises serious concerns about impacts from increased vessel traffic and noise as well as adhering to time-of-year restrictions to protect threatened and endangered species if the schedule needs to be altered due to unforeseen circumstances.

Furthermore, the unique tidal flows in the Raritan Bay do not seem to have been given appropriate consideration.

COMMENT 5: Other Concerns about In-Water Construction

  • Time of Year Restrictions
  • Thermal Discharges

COMMENT 6: There is a Questionable “Need” for additional natural gas in National Grid’s NY area.

COMMENT 7: There is no real consideration of climate crisis-mitigating renewable alternatives by the Federal or State agencies.

Additionally, the impact of the NESE Project on climate change effects should be considered in light of the threats facing New Jersey as well as the State’s goals to reduce greenhouse gases.

Action Alert – Urge Governor Murphy’s NJ DEP to Deny Permits for the Williams-Transco Northeast Supply Enhancement Project

Everyone’s voice is needed again

Urge Governor Murphy’s New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to Deny Permits for the Williams-Transco Northeast Supply Enhancement Project

APPLICATIONS – STATUS UPDATE

The NJDEP declared that Williams/Transco’s January 2020 application was “complete for review” on February 7, 2020.  That starts the 90-day timeline within which the NJDEP must issue a decision which should happen by May 6, 2020.

NJDEP’s Identification Number for the 1/21/20 Applications is:

Program Interest # 0000-01-1001.3         Activity # LUP200001

NJDEP has provided application documents and ways to submit comments on a Portal that can be found at:  https://www.nj.gov/dep/nese

The deadline for sending comments to NJDEP is Monday, April 6.

ACTIONS TO TAKE NOW

Urge Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to deny this harmful and unnecessary project once and for all.  Demand Murphy and the NJDEP put actions behind their promises of a clean energy future.  Demand that the NJDEP says NO to NESE!

  1. Sign the petition letter to ask for more time to review materials and submit comments + hearings (fact-finding meetings) scheduled by the NJDEP to hear our concerns.  The only NJDEP hearings for four different application times were on 11/5/18 and 3/18/19.
  2. Sign the petition letter that asks for the NESE permit applications to be denied.
  3. Look for online petition letters to sign.  We’ll provide information about them once they are live.

The 2 petition letters are here:

  1. NJDEP – Request Hearings + Extra Time to Comment
  2. NESE – Encourage Denial of NESE Permits

You can email your petition letters:

  • Format needs to be MSWord-compatible and not locked/read-only.
  • Put the following in the SUBJECT box:  Transco NESE Comments
  • Email to:  Governor Murphy, Commissioner McCabe & the NJDEP’s NESE Portal for comments

Constituent.relations@nj.gov
commissioner@dep.nj.gov 
NESEcomment@dep.nj.gov

You can mail paper copies to:

TRANSCO NESE Public Comment
Land Use Regulation
N.J. Department of Environmental Protection
501 East State Street
Mail Code 501-02A; P.O Box 420
Trenton, NJ   08625-0420

Governor Philip D. Murphy
Office of the Governor
State of New Jersey
20 West State St., 4th Floor
Trenton, NJ 0862

Catherine R. McCabe
Commissioner
N.J. Department of Environmental Protection
401 East State St., 7th Floor
Trenton, NJ 0862

BACKGROUND

For the fourth time in three years, Williams-Transco is seeking approval for the Northeast Supply Enhancement (“NESE”) Project.  The massive expansion project would require the construction of a highly air polluting gas-fired compressor station in Somerset County, New Jersey, as well as the construction of a 23.4 mile offshore pipeline that will rip through Raritan and Lower New York Bay.  The project is designed to carry fracked methane gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey and sensitive marine waters to New York.  If approved, the project would lock the region into decades of fossil fuel dependence, significantly contributing to catastrophic climate change while creating significant and severe environmental harm throughout New Jersey and New York.  

Why Is The Project A Bad Idea?

A Climate Disaster 

  • A major reason to oppose NESE is the impact it will have on accelerating climate change.  This billion dollar project will lock the region into decades of continued reliance on fossil fuels.  If approved, the project will bring climate altering methane gas to New York City, resulting in the equivalent of over 7 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year!

Incompatible with New Jersey and New York’s Clean Energy Agenda 

  • To address climate change, both Governor Murphy of New Jersey and Governor Cuomo of New York have unveiled progressive climate plans to significantly reduce emissions and promote a swift transition to renewable energy.  NESE creates a legacy incompatible with these goals. 

Destruction of Decades of Water Quality Improvement in the Raritan and Lower New York Bays

  • The Raritan Bay and Lower New York Bay are the oldest industrial watersheds in the nation.  Decades of pollution, dumping, and mismanagement resulted in widespread contamination.  However, environmental efforts in the last few years have significantly improved the area.  NESE threatens to reverse these improvements.  Dredging of a 23.4 mile trench through the heart of these waterways will re-suspend sediment containing harmful toxins such as PCBs, dioxin, lead, mercury and arsenic.
  • The company behind the project also plans to discharge over 690,000 gallons of drilling fluids into the water releasing untold chemicals and biocides into the marine environment.

Harm to Marine Life 

  • The area the proposed pipeline will disrupt is home to a wide variety of marine life.  The Raritan and Lower New York Bay is home to over two-hundred species of fish, sixteen species of marine mammals, including the Atlantic Right Whale, and five species of turtles. Several of these species are considered endangered or threatened. 
  • Construction of the offshore pipeline will result in widespread industrial activity which will harass and harm marine life.  The resuspension of the toxic contaminants will destroy important ecosystems such as oyster reefs, clam beds, wetlands and shallow waters.  As the toxic sediment resettles, it will also suffocate fish eggs and larva, killing the next generation of marine life.  

Ocean Dumping – Contaminating the Atlantic Ocean 

  • The company plans to not only re-suspend harmful toxic sediment, but has proposed to dump over 735,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment into the ocean.  This will expose marine life to toxic pollutants, reintroducing toxins into the environment and allowing it to enter the food chain.

A Threat to Public Health and Safety 

  • Over the past years, pipelines and pumping stations owned and operated by the company proposing NESE have experienced over ten explosions or fires.  In the last five years, the company has continued to receive safety and risk violations from various federal agencies including penalties in New York and New Jersey.  The company has also received numerous fines from the EPA for unsafe discharges of pollutants. 
  • Compressor Station 206 is proposed to be built in a densely populated area, next to an active blasting quarry and a Superfund site. 
  • Compressor Station 206 will increase the velocity of gas through pipelines that are over 50 years old which will accelerate the rate of corrosion that leads to fires and explosion.   

Increased Air/Noise Pollution 

  • The proposed Compressor Station 206 will result in harmful emissions of toxic air pollutants such as Carbon Monoxide, Sulfur Dioxide, Nitrous Oxides, Particulate Matter 2.5, Volatile Organic Compounds, Formaldehyde, and Benzene, and some of these emissions will increase Ozone, which is unhealthy for children, the elderly, and those with respiratory ailments.
  • For the second consecutive year, the American Lung Association gave both Monmouth County and Middlesex County an F in the annual State of the Air report for ozone pollution. 
  • Low-frequency noise from compressor stations, it has been reported, is harmful to both humans and wildlife.

An Unneeded Cash-Grab

  • The billion dollar project will be paid for by ratepayers in New York. If approved, federal regulations will give Williams-Transco a mandatory 14% return on investment for the harmful project.  There are better, less harmful alternatives to this massive overbuild of a project based on profit and not need.  
  • In fact, after New York regulators previously denied the project for the environmental harm it would create, National Grid, the utility contracted to purchase the gas from the project, issued a moratorium on all new connections and urged customers to support the project.  New York regulators concluded that there was no proof that the moratorium was needed and fined the company 35 million dollars, and ordered the company to lift the moratorium.  

Action Alert – Speak Up to Scrap NESE

NESE has new filings at the Federal & State levels, and our voices are needed again.

Williams/Transco now proposes to use (improve + extend) the access road from Route 518 to the EPA building on the Higgins Farm Superfund Site to get to the proposed Compressor Station 206.

FERC

FERC has opened up a new docket just for Williams/Transco’s January 31, 2020 “Application to Amend Certificate” to allow it to use & extend the Higgins Farm/EPA road to access the proposed Compressor Station 206.  The FERC Docket Number for this specific proceeding is CP20-49.  This is distinct from the FERC Docket for the overall NESE Project (FERC Docket Number CP17-101), which remains open/active.

Use this new docket number for the following actions:

  • March 20, 2020 = deadline to submit comments to FERC on the proposed “environmental document” which FERC will produce

To view the Amendment application, go to:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1OKm3OIW4tNc6VGtVoCHK6qp_MS5ITEmq?usp=sharing

NJDEP

January 21, 2020:  new applications were submitted to NJDEP.

February 19, 2020 DEP Bulletin:  public notification that the new applications are “administratively complete” as of 2/7/20.

  • NJDEP has a portal (available here) on their website where they posted application materials (available here) & where there’s a form that can be used to submit comments online (available here).    You can use that or send comments as attachments to NESEcomment@dep.nj.gov.  
  • 45 day comment period has been provided for these applications by the DEP.  Thus, comments = need to be at DEP by April 3 (Friday).

There is hope!

On February 21, 2020, Williams/Transco stopped their investment in the Constitution Pipeline after 8+ years of legal battling.  They noted that “greenfield” (new) projects have weaker risk-adjusted returns. For NESE, the proposed Compressor Station 206 + most of the Raritan Bay Loop are not within their right-of-way areas and, thus, are “greenfield” components.

What can you do?

Sign up to be an intervenor with FERC on the new Docket No. for NESE CP20-49 by Feb. 26, 2020.

Find your prior comments that were sent to NJDEP on prior versions of the permit applications, and send them anew since, for the most part, the issues still exist. Submit your comments here.

Sign the online petition(s) to NJDEP about denying these latest permit applications, giving more time for making comments, and holding fact-finding (public hearing) meetings. Sign our MoveOn petition to the NJDEP here.

FYI:  This April 22 = the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

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 – Princeton Council voices continuing opposition to NESE

On October 14, 2019, the Princeton Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of NJDEP denying permits for two fossil fuel pipeline projects that could impact central Jersey – NESE and PennEast.  It recognizes that neither project can be completed in a manner that meets the stringent environmental standards required by state laws and regulations.

It highlights misleading & false assertions like:

  • Natural gas is a bridge to clean energy.
  • There is a need for more gas by National Grid in New York.

It highlights important concerns & goals of people in New Jersey:

  • Compressor stations are a potent source of ground level ozone, are a safety risk, and negatively affect the quality of the air we breathe.  Plumes of toxic emissions can travel 10 miles away.
  • The safety standards of interstate pipelines are weaker than those for intrastate pipelines.
  • Construction of Compressor Station 206 would adversely impact the state-threatened barred owl and protected vernal pool habitats.
  • Construction of the pipeline in Raritan Bay would dredge up toxins, and it threatens marine life, tourism and the fishing economy.
  • A transition away from fossil fuels is needed to achieve the State’s clean energy mandates.
  • The costs of non-polluting solar and wind energy are decreasing.
  • New York’s energy needs can be met by energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources.

With appreciation for this well-detailed action by the Princeton Council, their resolution is linked to this alert.

READ THE RESOLUTION

REMEMBER:
If Williams/Transco does not get all permits from NJDEP and/or NYSDEC, the compressor station proposed near Trap Rock Quarry and the pipeline proposed in Old Bridge/Sayreville and Raritan Bay cannot be built.

By Friday, October 25, NJDEP needs to make a decision about the Coastal Wetlands and Waterfront Development permit applications.

By Tuesday, October 29, NJDEP needs to make a decision about the Flood Hazard Area permit application.

QUICK ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE NOW

1-Sign the online petition that will be sent to the Governor & NJDEP Commissioner.

2-Call Governor Murphy between 9AM and 5PM, and tell him that you want the NJDEP to deny all permits for the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (a.k.a. NESE).  Call 866-586-4069 or 609-292-6000.

OTHER ACTIONS:

Even though the comment period ended, Williams/Transco has submitted more documents to NJDEP since then.  Make your concerns known to the NJDEP Project Managers and others in Trenton who need to be aware of your concerns by sending messages by October 22.

TO:

NJDEP Project Managers:  Joslin.Tamagno@dep.nj.gov
Joslin Tamagno and 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 

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.

Rally Against the NESE Project: By Land and Sea

Groups to Urge Governor Murphy to Stand Up for His Green Energy Agenda!

Saturday, September 14, 10:30am

Marine Park by the Pier, Red Bank, NJ

What:              Press conference and rally on the water and land urging Governor Murphy to deny the proposed Williams Transco Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE) once and for all 

Who:               Concerned citizens and environmental, business and fishing groups, including: Central Jersey Environmental Defenders, Central Jersey Safe Energy Coalition, Clean Ocean Action, Environment New Jersey, Food and Water Watch, Indivisible Bayshore, J.T. White Clammers, Canyon Pass,  League of Women Voters of New Jersey, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, and Waterspirit

Where:            Marine Park by the Pier, Red Bank, NJ 07701

When:             Saturday, September 14, 2019 at 10:30am

Why:               Environmentalists, citizens and businesses are calling on Governor Murphy and the NJDEP to permanently deny the Williams NESE Project before the September 25th deadline.

Red Bank, NJ – As a critical deadline looms on the 3-year battle to stop the massive fracked natural gas project, Williams Transco Northeast Enhancement Supply (NESE), citizens are urged to attend a rally on the Navesink River to tell the Governor that the pending permits must be denied.  The NJDEP is obligated to make a final decision on the offshore pipeline section of the project by September 25, 2019, which put’s the Murphy Administration’s green energy agenda to the test.  Groups will urge that the decision be permanent, with no allowance to reapply.

NESE is the unnecessary, dirty, and environmentally destructive project designed to bring fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania to New York City.  The NJDEP denied permits this past June; however, the type of denial allowed Williams Transco to reapply, which they did. 

A coalition of environmental, fishing, business and community groups has united to fight the pipeline and is hosting a rally to urge Governor Murphy to deny the permits again, and this time to do so with provisions that prohibit reapplication.   The rally will be held by the pier at Marine Park in Red Bank from 10:30am – 12:00pm, and people of all ages are encouraged to attend and bring signs.   Immediately following the rally will be the celebration of the 44th Annual Clearwater Festival.

Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action said,  “It’s imperative for citizens to attend this rally if they care about a healthy future.  While Governor Murphy has repeatedly promised a clean and green energy future for NJ, he needs to know we support that green vision and that his NJDEP must deny the permits.  There is nothing green about this project, in fact it is a lose, lose, lose for the Garden State, so saying no to this project is a no brainer.  We look forward to celebrating with the Governor once he sends Williams and Transco packing back to Oklahoma when his administration denies this project once and for all,” Zipf said.

“The Governor needs to do his job and stand for the environment and the people of New Jersey by denying this pipeline. We have told DEP time and time again that this is the wrong project in the wrong place. It is completely unnecessary and unneeded. The Northeast Supply Enhancement Project would cut through the already polluted and sensitive Raritan Bay and the New York Bay. This fossil fuel project would not only harm our fisheries and the ecology of the Bay but risk the safety and health of people too. Transco does not care about our safety, our clean air and water, they just want to put a dangerous compressor station and natural gas pipeline in our backyard and in our bay,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “DEP did their job in rejecting William Transco’s permits before, now it is their duty to reject them again.” 

“The Murphy Administration has a chance in the coming days to once again protect New Jerseyans from a dangerous source of air and water pollution and double down on its commitment to achieving a 100% clean energy future by permanently rejecting permits to the NESE project,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “New Jersey has denied permits for NESE once. The Murphy administration should move to permanently reject the project and codify their strong decision made in June. I urge the public to join us on September 14th to show the governor we fully support his 100% clean energy goals and oppose NESE.”

State and local environmental organizations are not alone in their opposition to NESE. Numerous New Jersey residents have been actively opposing the project since it was first proposed. Dr. Barbara Cuthbert is a member of the Franklin Township Task Force, a group which formed three years ago to fight back and protect the communities which will be at risk from the proposed compressor station. “Governor Murphy and the DEP know that the NESE Project does not provide health or safety benefits to New Jerseyans. The laws and science, along with the clean energy goals of NJ, are on the side of NJDEP who should deny this third set of applications for good to protect our environment, health and safety from climate change impacts of fossil fuel extraction, transportation and combustion,” said Dr. Cuthbert.

Local community members along the Bayshore have expressed serious concerns over the impact the project will have on their communities and local economies. Despite the Bayshore region being on the front lines in terms of the impacts from the offshore pipeline, the DEP has failed to hold a public hearing on the project in the area. Elisabeth Eittreim, the head of Indivisible Bayshore explained that the organization, “firmly opposes the NESE Pipeline and urges our elected officials to protect our waterways before it is too late.”

Background:

NESE is an unnecessary, dirty, and environmentally destructive project designed to bring fracked natural/methane gas from Pennsylvania to New York City. To do so, Williams and their subsidiary Transco have sought permits to build both a massive new compressor station in Franklin Township and a 23.4-mile offshore pipeline through the Raritan Bay. The compressor station is being built next to an active quarry where blasting regularly occurs. Reports indicate that the compressor station will emit millions of tons of harmful pollutants annually into the air we breathe. Permits for these facilities are being evaluated separately by the NJDEP and a decision is expected in the fall. The nearly 24-mile pipeline, called the Raritan Loop, will rip Raritan Bay in half and continue all the way to the ocean spewing nearly a million tons of toxin muck and drilling mud into the waterways in which we swim and fish.  If approved, NESE will also rollback over 35 years of environmental progress for our waterways.  

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 – SEND COMMENTS TO NJDEP BY AUGUST 2, 2019

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.

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”).

YOUR COMMENTS ARE NEEDED!

Many of the concerns of people in NJ & NY have been heard, and they need to be voiced again about the 2019 permit applications.

NJDEP has issued a comment period for the June 2019 applications that ends on August 2, 2019. We’re asking for an extension but, at this time, we do not know if it will be granted.

Attached are sample written comments/points that are relevant to the NJDEP’s current review of applications as well as political points (such as climate change impacts).

We will be adding additional sample comments to the website as we go, so please check back periodically.

Recommendations:

  1. Write separate comments for each topic or point.
    • Using the attached comment statements, you could do a “word search” for a topic or concern of interest to you.
    • On the next page is a list of the attached comment topics with provided information.
  2. Choose points from what is provided on the attached comment ideas/points & use them to create your own individual comments by copying/pasting what you want to use into a Word document. Save it.
  3. Include your full name and address at the end of all comment letters.
  4. Send each comment as an attachment (the Word document or that document saved as a PDF) via one email to all of the following – the 2 NJDEP people reviewing the permit applications (Project Managers) while copying others in the DEP who are involved as well as the Governor. (Emails are listed below so that you can copy & paste them into your email.) You could also copy your local State Senators and Representatives.

Send Emails = To NESE Project Managers at NJDEP:

Stephen.Olivera@dep.nj.gov
Joslin.Tamagno@dep.nj.gov

cc:

Commissioner@dep.nj.gov
Ruth.Foster@dep.nj.gov
Christopher.Jones@dep.nj.gov
Diane.Dow@dep.nj.gov
Ginger.Kopkash@dep.nj.gov
Constituent.relations@nj.gov

5. For the Subject of your email, copy & paste this into the space –
Comments on NESE – Program Interest # 0000-01-1001.3; Activity #s: LUP 190001 & LUP190002

6. To identify the comment in the document you will attach, write something like the following as your email message:

Dear Mr. Olivera and Ms. Tamagno:

I would like to thank the DEP for its June 5, 2019 denial of Williams/Transco’s prior set of Land Use permit applications. Transco’s new Land Use permit applications – submitted merely one week after the denial – still fail to satisfy the applicable New Jersey statutes and regulations, including New Jersey’s stringent requirements for issuing a Water Quality Certificate under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act.

For accountability, public participation, and use of science-based decision-making, the following comments are provided for consideration during the current comment period for the June 2019 applications by Williams/Transco for the following permits for the proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement Project: Freshwater Wetlands Individual Permit with Section 401 Water Quality Certification, Flood Hazard Area Individual Permit and Verification, Waterfront Development Individual Permit with Section 401 Water Quality Certification, and Coastal Zone Management Act Consistency Determination.

However, this 30-day timeframe is inadequate because the application material is only available for review during business hours in paper format, and this precludes true accessibility for those who cannot spend time at the Municipal Center or NJDEP’s office for reasons that include work, family care and/or disability.

Thus, in addition to considering my comments, I am asking for (a) an extension of the comment period for an additional 45 days beyond August 2 for sending you comments as well as (b) posting of the application material in a web-accessible format on the DEP website. This should not be difficult since Williams/Transco provided the DEP with all application material on a DVD in late June/early July.

7. Then, attach your comment as a Word document or PDF.

Comment Topics – Elaborated Points are in the attached dociments.

(1) Construction of the NESE Project threatens water quality, increased stormwater flooding, and threatened & endangered species.

OPEN PDF OF COMMENT 1

A. Construction of a stormwater basin at the proposed Compressor Station 206 site does not include complete plans that account for the specific soil type that exists there.

B. Impacts to the habitat for the State threatened barred owl as well as protected vernal pool habitats at the proposed Compressor Station 206 site were not adequately assessed or avoided.

C. Construction Schedule of the Raritan Bay Loop was reduced from 12 months to 7 months

D. A shortened timeline increases the intensity of work, so the overall impacts will be magnified.

E. Noise Impacts from Pile Drivings – It is not clear if the construction schedule for these activities has changed with the compressed construction schedule for the Raritan Bay Loop, but the requests for harassment have increased.

F. Dredging up toxics has not been avoided by construction of the Raritan Bay Loop, and this will likely cause long-term harm that was not accounted for in the applications.

G. To reach a conclusion that the impacts on water quality would be short-lived, temporary and localized neglects to consider the unusual tidal flows in Raritan Bay, the chain-reactions from destroyed habitat and food sources for marine life, and the contamination of food sources for marine life and people.

H. NESE’s Raritan Bay Loop’s Undisputed, Devastating Impact on Shellfish Beds and Benthic Communities

I. Williams/Transco has not sufficiently identified permanent, temporary, and secondary/indirect impacts from onland construction, and they have not shown plans to avoid and/or mitigate these impacts.

  • Acid Producing Soils
  • Construction through or near Superfund Sites & other toxic sites

(2) Williams/Transco did not demonstrate that there are no practicable alternatives to avoid impacting exceptional resource value wetlands and their transition areas.

OPEN PDF OF COMMENT 2

(3)  Williams/Transco did not demonstrate a “compelling public need” for the NESE Project that meets requirements of NJ’s Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-10.4 or, alternatively, demonstrate an extraordinary hardship from denial of a permit.

OPEN PDF OF COMMENT 3

The NESE Project does not serve an essential health or safety need of the municipality in which it would be constructed, and its proposed use does not serve existing needs of residents of the State.

  • Air Quality & Health Impacts
  • Safety Risks – Fires or Explosions

Additionally, the “need” for the NESE Project has been refuted by reports, and the needs of the State that are currently focused on fighting climate change impacts would be harmed by the NESE Project despite claims by Williams/Transco about “benefits” to New Jersey.

(4)  NESE is not in the Public Interest.

OPEN PDF OF COMMENT 4

  • need to preserve natural resources
  • relative extent of the public and private need for the regulated activity
  • practicability of using reasonable alternative locations and methods
  • economic value
  • ecological value of the freshwater wetlands and probable impact on public health and fish and wildlife.

(5)  Contaminants that would be unearthed, suspended and redistributed in the Raritan Bay exceed “acceptable” levels. Exceedances were found by the NYSDEC for heavy metals (copper & mercury) in New York waters, too. Thus, construction of the Raritan Bay Loop of the NESE Project would (a) negatively impact surface water quality, and (b) harm threatened and endangered species and their habitat. Additionally, the shortening of the in-water construction schedule raises serious concerns about impacts from increased vessel traffic and noise as well as adhering to time-of-year restrictions to protect threatened and endangered species if the schedule needs to be altered due to unforeseen circumstances. Furthermore, the unique tidal flows in the Raritan Bay do not seem to have been given appropriate consideration.

OPEN PDF OF COMMENT 5

(6)  Other Concerns about In-Water Construction

  • Time of Year Restrictions
  • Thermal Discharges

OPEN PDF OF COMMENT 6

(7)  There is a Questionable “Need” for additional natural gas in National Grid’s NY area.

OPEN PDF OF COMMENT 7

(8)  There is no real consideration of climate crisis-mitigating renewable alternatives by the Federal or State agencies. Additionally, the impact of the NESE Project on climate change effects should be considered in light of the threats facing New Jersey as well as the State’s goals to reduce greenhouse gases.

OPEN PDF OF COMMENT 8

(9) Misleading and incomplete information in the Factsheets provided by Williams/Transco

OPEN PDF OF COMMENT 9