PennEast announced Monday that it will stop all further development of a 110-mile natural gas pipeline that would have sliced through five eastern Pennsylvania counties on the way to New Jersey.
In a statement Monday morning, PennEast said that it was ceasing the $1 billion project because it had not received received certain permits, including a water quality certification and other wetlands permits for the New Jersey portion of the project.
“The PennEast partners, following extensive evaluation and discussion, recently determined further development of the project no longer is supported,” the company said in a statement.
PennEast had received a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to construct the proposed pipeline and obtained some required permits.
Most of the pipeline on the Pennsylvania side would have been located in Luzerne, Carbon and Northampton counties, with smaller sections in Monroe and Bucks counties. It would have crossed the Delaware River north of Milford, New Jersey, then paralleled the river through western Hunterdon County before ending at Transco’s trans-continental pipeline near Pennington in Mercer County.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted in 2018 to allow the project to move forward by granting PennEast a certificate of public convenience and necessity. However, lawsuits and online petitions followed. Officials have argued the pipeline would have harmful impacts on the environment, particularly waterways the flow of clean water to homes and farms.
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The PennEast decision was a victory for the opponents that have waged a seven-year campaign against the project.
“The announcement that the PennEast pipeline is effectively dead is a huge relief for PennFuture and the impacted communities across the Delaware River watershed who have been tirelessly working to defeat this terrible pipeline,” said Abigail M. Jones, vice president of legal and policy at the environmental advocacy group PennFuture. “Impacts from the PennEast pipeline would have included degradation of streams, including special protection waters; loss of high functioning wetlands; destruction of forest habitat and increased invasive species; and increased greenhouse gas emissions, just to name a few.”
“PennEast’s cancelation of this unneeded, dangerous fracked gas pipeline is a momentous win for the communities that have fought hard for years to defend their property and the environment. Others who seek to exploit the residents and natural resources of New Jersey and Pennsylvania should take note: we are not easy-take states and we will continue to resist,” said Joseph Otis Minott, executive director and chief counsel for the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council.
“We knew we would get here eventually, it was just a matter of time,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and staunch opponent to the PennEast Pipeline. “Organizations like the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Berks Gas Truth, Environment NJ, NJ Sierra and Clean Water Action, have been partnering with frontline organizations, community leaders, property owners, and environmental advocates literally since day one.”
Defeat of the pipeline has been a grassroots effort, van Rossum said.
Advocates quickly gathered on a celebratory Zoom call after learning of PennEast’s decision.
“I’m very happy that our group, all 120 miles of it, has stuck together for seven years. I think that is the key to our success here,” said Linda Christman, president of Save Carbon County, a group of “environmentalists and impacted land owners.” She praised New Jersey’s government for — unlike Pennsylvania’s — fighting the pipeline “with all the resources of the state.”
Not everyone was pleased with the PennEast decision.
“We are disappointed, although not surprised, to hear that PennEast has decided to cancel the development of this important pipeline project in New Jersey,” Mark Longo, director of the Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative, said in a statement. “The benefits of the project were clear: It would have provided New Jersey and the entire region with the clean, affordable energy needed to grow our economy. However, many policy makers and special interest groups shamefully fought hard to stop the project and ultimately succeeded, putting the future of our energy infrastructure at risk.”
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry lamented the economic impact of the cancelation.
“Activists are cheering upon the recent news that the sponsors of the PennEast project, a more than $1 billion investment that would have delivered Pennsylvania-produced natural gas into markets in New Jersey, have cancelled the project. Let’s be clear: this is no victory — not for ratepayers, who are now lacking a reliable source of gas and electricity; not for the economy, which is now out several thousand well-paying construction jobs at a time when the economy continues to struggle; and not for the environment, as this obstruction results in the mid-Atlantic being more reliant on imported fuels from foreign nations that do not have our strict environmental standards,” said Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr.
Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com.
Kathryne Rubright is a reporter covering the environment, northeast Pa. politics, and local news. She is based at the Pocono Record. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.