Big Setback for PennEast: PIPELINE – DEP Rejects Permits

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The DEP has rejected PennEast Pipeline’s application for water permits. This is a major setback because they have told PennEast that they do not have enough information for them to evaluate land use permits and their application is deficient. On April 26th, DEP gave PennEast 30 days to address the outstanding issues or they would reject the application as incomplete. If the information was not submitted by 60 days, which was today, the DEP said it would close the application and therefore block PennEast from moving forward. PennEast applied for their 401 Water Certificate and other water and wetlands permits. Since 65 percent of the route has yet to be surveyed, the DEP said they do not have enough information for any of these approvals. This rejection is important because DEP permits are required for PennEast to build this damaging pipeline.

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“In a major setback for PennEast Pipeline, DEP has rejected their water permits. This is a victory against the pipeline because they have to start all over again and apply for new permits. This could be tough for them to do this because they do not have information because 65 percent of the route in New Jersey because people have denied them access. DEP did its job and saw through PennEast’s con-game. Under the rules, they had to reject this application because PennEast is missing so much information and was a sham,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We are glad DEP denied this worthless permit application. This rejection is important because they were only able to get a little of information on one area in more than a two dozen areas where they were deficient. Extending this application would have been meaningless because they would never be able to get this information anyway. Now they cannot reapply for another 90 days, which will delay any Determination of Completeness until next Administration. Next year, we won’t have Chris Christie to push pipelines any more.”

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The PennEast Pipeline is 110 mile pipeline that will bring natural gas from the Marcellus Region of Pennsylvania through Hunterdon and Mercer Counties in New Jersey. The pipeline will be cutting through communities, preserved open space, and farmland. The DEP requires ample surveys of the private land the company plans to utilize. However, without this information NJDEP would not allow the project to go forward. The Department also listed the various other commissions that PennEast must comply with for approvals and exceptions.

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“This a big win! This is because DEP will not be able to deem any application complete until the next Administration. Even if they come back and reapply it would be at least 90 days, so they wouldn’t need to start the process until the next Governor. Since Phil Murphy has come out against this project, and the other candidate has major concerns, we believe this is such a big setback for PennEast. Next year, we will have a better and stronger DEP that will follow the environmental rules and therefore should reject any future application. We believe PennEast cannot be granted permits and that the 401 permit or water quality standards will be rejected. The next Governor will also have someone on the DRBC who can also vote against PennEast as well,” said Jeff Tittel. “PennEast really wasted DEP staff time and money on all of this non-sense they submitted. Now they will need to pay for a new application fee. However if DEP extended it for them, they wouldn’t have to pay that fee, while taxpayers would spent more money on staff review. Whether it is 60 days or 600 days they would never get the information needed because this application is a joke.”

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PennEast has not yet been able to prove they can get necessary permits for construction and operation that they are applying for. The pipeline would damage important waterways, including the Delaware River.

“DEP saw through PennEast’s bluff and buster to push this project through. This shows that our work to fight this pipeline for the past three years have been working. By educating people not to let PennEast on their land and allow survey access, now they cannot go forward with their application at the DEP. This rejection is among a long list of other government agencies like Army Corps, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, DRBC that have issues with this pipeline. They have all said PennEast doesn’t have enough surveys and is missing critical information. The Ratepayer Advocate even said PennEast is an unnecessary cost to ratepayers,” said Jeff Tittel.

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We believe that this pipeline cannot meet the requirement for a 401-water quality permit. The reason is because of the amount of high quality streams, wetlands, and rivers it is crossing through. Many of these streams carry anti-degradation criteria. The route will cut areas with steep slopes having a bigger impact on streams because of siltation and runoff. The pipeline would threaten the entire Valley including 91 acres of wetlands and over 44 miles of forest; over 1,600 acres total.

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“This is another step in the battle against PennEast Pipeline. Since PennEast applied for their Certificate of Necessity to FERC based on getting DEP permits, now that they have no permit their application to FERC should be rejected. This is important because it means without a Certificate of Necessity PennEast cannot get on people’s property. That is why we still need to block FERC having a quorum so they cannot give out a Certificate of Necessity,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “DEP didn’t Re-Think, they acted. We thank the DEP for doing their job and protecting the environment. This may not be the final blow, but it will be a setback they cannot recover from.”

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