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Friday, June 29, 2012

From the Delaware Riverkeeper

Organizations Legally Challenge Tennessee Gas Pipeline Project
Effort to block construction based on flawed environmental review by agency
           
Washington, D.C. - Three environmental groups – Delaware Riverkeeper Network, New Jersey Sierra Club, and the New Jersey Highlands Coalition -- have filed a request for rehearing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting they rescind their approval for the construction of Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s (TGP) Northeast Upgrade Project (NEUP).  NEUP is proposed to be built spanning portions of Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey and crossing under the Delaware River just above the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.  For a copy of the filing, go to:
 
The organizations are challenging the approval because FERC did not fulfill the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act which requires that the full extent of environmental impacts, including cumulative impacts, be considered when making the requisite analysis of the adverse impacts weighed against public benefits.  The filed legal documents insist that a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required and that FERC cannot allow TGP to avoid accurate environmental review by “segmentation”, or cutting up the pipeline review into small parts to dodge comprehensive analysis.
 
"This is not the wild west!  The gas drillers and pipeline companies have to stop acting like it is and the agencies have to stop letting them get away with it when they do," said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper. "There are laws that apply here.  And while those laws are far from what is necessary to protect communities and the environment, they do apply and must be complied with. And if our regulatory agencies aren't going to enforce the requirements of the law, then we as citizens will," added van Rossum.
 
"We are asking for a rehearing to get FERC to do the job they should have done in the first place.  We believe strongly that FERC did not do a proper environmental analysis and should have done a full Environmental Impact Statement.  We believe they violated the NEPA process and they need to have a re-hearing to correct their mistake," said Jeff Tittel, Director, New Jersey Sierra Club.  "They did not look at the impacts to human health and water supply, endangered species, open space, and historic resources.  They did not look at the secondary impacts from fracking.  We believe this is the wrong project in the wrong place and one of the most destructive pipelines ever proposed in the United States and FERC needs to reopen this process and have a rehearing." 
 
"Segmenting the project prevents an accurate assessment of the impacts to the Highlands water supply area," said Julia Somers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition. "The Highlands water users will be left to pay for the eventual increased water treatment costs resulting from this and the other pipeline projects," said Somers.
 
FERC issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project in November 2011 that found “no significant impact” even though the three organizations who are appealing - all official Intervenors in the FERC proceedings - and many other interested parties submitted significant comments calling for an EIS due to the vulnerable resources of the region.  These resources include high quality streams and wetlands, forests and other important habitats, the Delaware River and the adjacent national recreation area, public lands, and other natural, scenic and historic resources.
 
The Request for Rehearing was filed before FERC on June 28, 2012.  FERC has a 30 day period to grant or deny the request.  If they do not grant the request to rescind the order and conduct the fully required NEPA analysis, the organizations expect to appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court.
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