ACTION ALERT – Urge Governor Murphy and NJDEP TO DENY WATER PERMIT APPLICATIONS for the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE)

Many have sent comments to NJDEP about the deficiencies in the applications of Williams/Transco for water permits needed to construct the NESE Project. The comment period ended on May 2.

Even though FERC issued their “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” Order on May 3, the NESE Project cannot be constructed without receiving water permits from NY’s Department of Environmental Conservation and NJ’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Below are links to recent publications showing the risks of NESE as well as the fact that NESE is not needed even though gas companies in New York are threatening moratoriums if the NESE Project is not approved.

DO NOT BE SWAYED BY SUCH PROPAGANDA!

  • There are other options for future developments to get energy in New York.
  • The claim that the gas is needed to help National Grid’s customers change from using oil to using gas is false.

Pipeline planned for Raritan Bay is a safety risk that keeps us all dependent on dirty fossil fuels, environmentalist says

Rigorous report proves lack of need for Williams fracked gas pipeline – This Press Release makes note of the critical findings in the report and includes a valid link to the Study.

FALSE DEMAND: The case against the Williams fracked gas pipeline

Also, see the comment letters submitted to NJDEP by:

ACTION ALERT: Urge Governor Murphy & NJDEP to Deny Water Permit Applications for Compressor Station 206

2019 is the last phase of the permitting and regulatory process for NESE.

We’ve been at this for a long time, and now is a critical time to have your voices heard where they can make a difference.

THE BALL IS IN GOVERNOR MURPHY’S COURT!

FERC issued their final Environmental Impact Statement on 1/25/19. They claim that any impacts from NESE will be temporary or minor. Though we disagree and have sent comments about our concerns to FERC, we still continue to anticipate that FERC will issue the Certificate of Public Convenience & Necessity since FERC does not seriously consider all that we care about and has only rejected a few pipeline projects (because the company did not have buyers for the gas). The Certificate could be issued as early as the end of February and as late as late April 2019.

Now, it’s up to Governor Murphy and the NJDEP to deny or approve water permit applications. NJDEP can stop the assault on our health, safety and the environment posed by the NESE Project.

Williams/Transco submitted their water permit applications to NJDEP on June 20, 2018. They expect to receive the permits in April 2019, but NJDEP has one calendar year to provide or reject the permit applications.

The proposed Compressor Station 206 and pipeline under Raritan Bay will not be built if Williams/Transco does not get all permits needed from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) & New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).

Please see the new summary of concerns with the NESE Project (PDFs attached) for:

TO DO

Urge Governor Murphy and the NJDEP to look at all aspects of the applications for water permits and hold Williams/Transco to high standards.

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.

New Jersey’s Attorney General and others wrote to FERC about their Policies & Procedures.

New Jersey’s Attorney General joined with 6 other Attorneys General in a 36-page submission to FERC when FERC asked for input about revising their policies and procedures.  (on 7/25/18 on Docket No. PL18-1). In it, they detail and support their recommendations:

First, regarding project need, we recommend that the Commission assess need on a comprehensive, regional basis, and expand its analysis beyond the current dependence on precedent agreements, employing heightened scrutiny of precedent agreements with affiliates of project proponents.

Second, we urge the Commission to conduct a more thorough and robust NEPA analysis, comprehensively assessing on a regional basis the impacts of, and alternatives to, a proposed project, considering clean energy and other non-pipeline alternatives, thoroughly analyzing upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions, and considering state greenhouse gas emission-reduction policies.

Third, we recommend that the Commission consider environmental harm, including climate impacts quantified using the best available measure—the Social Cost of Carbon—and more heavily weigh the harm from use of eminent domain takings in its public interest assessment when balancing project benefits and harm in making a Certificate decision.

Fourth, we urge the Commission to better incorporate and consider state environmental and land use policies, no longer issue Certificates conditioned on later receipt of state certifications and permits under federal statutes, and to condition Certificates on obtaining and complying with state and local permits that do not unreasonably conflict with or delay approved projects.

Finally, we recommend that the Commission no longer issue partial notices to proceed with construction when Certificate rehearing requests are pending and limit the use and time of tolling periods for rehearing requests.

Click to read the full document from the Attorneys General (7/25/18, PDF)

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.

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