‘Momentous Win’: Years of Local Opposition Defeats PennEast Pipeline

Opponents in Pennsylvania and New Jersey cheer “cancellation of this unneeded, dangerous fracked gas pipeline.”

This article originally appeared in Common Dreams

By Jessica Corbett

Environmental and public health advocates on Monday celebrated the demise of a proposed fracked gas pipeline across Pennsylvania and New Jersey after PennEast decided to cease development because of difficulties acquiring certain state permits.

“Today, water, the environment, and people spoke louder than fossil fuels.”
—Jim Waltman, The Watershed Institute

“This is a huge victory. Today, water, the environment, and people spoke louder than fossil fuels,” said Jim Waltman, executive director of the New Jersey-based Watershed Institute, in a statement. “We congratulate and thank the many local, state, and federal officials of both parties and thousands of residents for their determined opposition to this unnecessary and destructive proposal.”

Joseph Otis Minott, Clean Air Council executive director and chief counsel, said that “PennEast’s cancellation 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,” he added.

The announcement from PennEast, a joint venture of multiple companies including Enbridge, follows several years of local opposition to the proposed 120-mile pipeline as well as speculation about the project’s future last week, after a court filing revealed that the developer would not use eminent domain authority to acquire state land in New Jersey.

The decision to stop development comes despite a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling about the New Jersey land dispute, which favored the developer, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approving the project.

As PennEast spokesperson Pat Kornick explained in a statement Monday:

Although PennEast received a certificate of public convenience and necessity from FERC to construct the proposed pipeline and obtained some required permits, PennEast has not received certain permits, including a water quality certification and other wetlands permits under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act for the New Jersey portion of the project; therefore, the PennEast partners, following extensive evaluation and discussion, recently determined further development of the project no longer is supported. Accordingly, PennEast has ceased all further development of the project.

Waltman pointed out that “the proposed pipeline would have ripped through dozens of our state’s most pristine streams and bulldozed through more than 4,300 acres of farmland and open space that has been ostensibly preserved in perpetuity.”

“From the beginning, it was clear to us that this PennEast proposal was in severe conflict with the state’s strong environmental protections,” he said. “As we and others have urged, through two administrations, the state of New Jersey has consistently held PennEast to the Garden State’s strict environmental laws.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also welcomed the development. In a statement, the Democrat highlighted his administration’s opposition to the “unnecessary” project that would have destroyed acres of conserved land and threatened species, and reiterated his commitment to “protecting our state’s natural resources and building a clean energy future.”

The New Jersey attorney general and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network had challenged FERC’s approval of the project in federal court. Maya van Rossum, the network’s leader, said Monday that “we knew we would get here eventually, it was just a matter of time.”

Applauding the opposition efforts ​​of frontline organizations, community leaders, property owners, and environmental advocates, van Rossum declared that “we have advocated, litigated, conducted critical scientific ground-truthing, and been clear throughout that we would accept nothing short of cancellation!”

“Today is a day to celebrate,” she added. “Tomorrow we battle on to end the fracking that spawned this evil pipeline project as well as the other LNG, pipeline, and compressor projects that are part and parcel of the devastating and dangerous fracking industry advancing the climate crisis and putting the health and safety of our planet and future generations at such consequential risk.”

5 thoughts on “‘Momentous Win’: Years of Local Opposition Defeats PennEast Pipeline”

  1. What this seems to mean is that the gas industry is not as powerful as the petroleum industry. DAPL and Line 3 are still happening, despite massive public opposition to both.

  2. Great result. Probably has more to do with projected price of fracking v other energy sources than environmental justice because it is not a court victory. PennEast probably could not get favorable loan terms to build. We must all be vigilant for when the price of methane rises PennEast or some other entity will again try to build the infrastructure of pollution. For today, we cheer!

    1. This reporting says that they couldn’t get the required permits. That may or may not be due to the cost of fracking, but it’s always good to pressure lenders and insurance companies to stop funding and insuring these harmful activities, because a lack of funding or insurance can kill these projects. Rainforest Action Network has been successful at stopping environmentally/ecologically harmful activities by pressuring lenders and insurers.

  3. As climate change and the current Huntington Beach oil spill remind us, the less fracking and drilling we see and the fewer pipelines we have, the better.
    Nor is the answer “green energy,” and our endless extraction of a dying planet.

    Instead of trying to satisfy ever-increasing energy demands, we should be going as low-tech as possible: Replace gadgets and gizmos with more nature, slower-paced lives, and using the extra time to learn more about our planet, other species, and developing our own awareness of ourselves, our world, and the other beings we share it with.

    Only when we recognize and defend the fact that oaks, squirrels, spiders, seaweed, and starfish have the same rights as humans will we deserve the air, water, food, and solace we have been destroying, in our insane quest for “more.”

    1. The Huntington Beach oil spill news has basically been censored. Not long ago a major oil spill like this would have been big national news, now it’s barely mentioned (I didn’t even find out about it until several days afterward). To be clear, humans are spilling oil daily, but the large majority of spills are considered “minor” (in fact, there’s nothing minor about any of them; one drop of human-extracted oil spilled above ground is one drop too much).

      So now humans are so used to major oil spills that they don’t even consider them to be big deals. But hey, why should a species that acts as a cancer on the planet care about this? (Maybe pictures of the oiled water, birds, fish, and marine mammals should be shown to all young school children so that they run home screaming to their parents, who after enough screaming might actually do something about this, not that I’d count on it.)

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