TRENTON – PennEast Pipeline Co. announced on Monday that it was pulling the plug on its proposed 116-mile gas pipeline that would have crossed Pennsylvania and New Jersey to deliver methane gas from Pennsylvania fracking wells. The announcement came on the heels of a Supreme Court decision that granted PennEast the right to use eminent domain to seize public and private lands for the pipeline. Nevertheless, the proposal faced stiff environmental permitting challenges from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) under the Clean Water Act. The company cited environmental permitting difficulties in its decision to withdraw the project.
The decision ends a seven-year battle between PennEast and New Jersey landowners, advocacy organizations, including Environment America affiliate Environment New Jersey, and environmental regulators, especially with the Murphy administration. The pipeline would have damaged 235 waterways, including 31 pristine streams in New Jersey, and 4,300 acres of preserved lands. It would also have led to more than 460 new fracked gas wells, and increased fracking water demands by 880 million gallons.
Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, issued the following statement:
“This is a watershed victory to stop fossil fuel companies from destroying our natural lands and waterways, and polluting our climate. This is a win for the public, a win for the environment and a win for the climate. We’ve been waiting for this victory for seven years.
After standing up for the environment in a legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court, residents are shedding tears of joy today. This victory wouldn’t have been possible without the Murphy administration and the NJDEP standing up to PennEast’s environmental bullying. Today is proof that you can fight the gas industry and win.
“Today has exposed the gas industry’s deceptive practice of building new gas pipelines without proving the need for gas. Today the gas industry’s willingness to bully landowners using the threat of eminent domain died a little bit more. PennEast spent the last seven years bullying New Jersey – from landowners to state government – and this win is a testament that you can’t bulldoze the public and the environment.”
Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12), who represents portions of the communities PennEast would have intersected, also issued a statement:
“I am grateful for all of the work that has been accomplished by the advocacy groups on the ground these last few years, fighting this unnecessary and dangerous proposal. I also thank the residents and communities on the front line of the proposed route for their tireless efforts. My work is not done. I will continue to commit to this fight for comprehensive oversight by FERC. We must have accountability when it comes to proposed projects and take a cumulative approach of the need and the environmental impact when pipelines are put forth into consideration. Make no mistake, though, today is a great win.”