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Tom Gilbert
267-261-7325
tom@njconservation.org

NJ Conservation Details Flaws in Gas Pipeline Review Policies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 07/26/18

Far Hills, NJ - New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJ Conservation) today submitted legal comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in response to the federal agency's request for comments on its gas pipeline certificate policy, which was last updated in 1999. The comments were submitted by Eastern Environmental Law Center and Columbia Environmental Law Clinic on behalf of NJ Conservation and The Watershed Institute. (Read the comments here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/04/25/2018-08658/certification-of-new-interstate-natural-gas-facilities.)

NJ Conservation and partners said FERC should revamp its processes for determining whether a pipeline is truly needed, should not accept contracts with a pipeline company's own affiliates as proof of market demand, and should not grant pipelines the authority to seize land through eminent domain before a pipeline has received all of its required permits.

"FERC's review of PennEast has illuminated glaring flaws in its process when it comes to determining public need for such projects and the abuse of eminent domain," said Tom Gilbert, campaign director, NJ Conservation. "By taking a closer look at how it reviews pipelines, FERC has a real opportunity to improve its processes and meet its true mandate, to protect the public interest. Until that happens, we are relying on agencies like NJDEP and the DRBC to safeguard our land, water and communities from unneeded, damaging projects like PennEast. Given the flaws in FERC's current process, we remain hopeful that the courts will protect NJ landowners from PennEast's attempt to seize their land for a project that is far from having final approvals."

The Attorney Generals of six states including New Jersey as well as the Attorney General of the District of Columbia also submitted comments to FERC, which mention PennEast in reference to FERC's relying "heavily on proof of precedent agreements to find need," and in reference to requiring state approvals before issuing a Certificate in order to "prevent landowners' unnecessary loss of property via eminent domain for pipeline projects that may never be constructed." (See comments here: https://rethinkenergynj.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Multistate_Comments-FERC_1999_PL_Policy_Review.pdf)

The proposed PennEast pipeline is currently seeking court approval to seize nearly 150 private and publicly preserved lands in New Jersey despite the fact that the project is missing key permits from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Delaware River Basin Commission. The New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel and independent energy experts have pointed to PennEast's heavy reliance on contracts from its own affiliate companies as failing to show evidence of public need.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation's comments to FERC are available here: https://rethinkenergynj.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/NJCF_FERC_NOI_FILING_072518.pdf

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