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Conservation groups hail NJDEP's Leidy pipeline decision


HOPEWELL TWP. - Conservation groups applauded New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (NJDEP) recent Leidy Pipeline decisions, which require Williams Transco to engage in an additional public process before allowing the pipeline company to disrupt more wetlands.

"We understand that Williams Transco is attempting to back away from its permit obligation to employ a technique knows as "Horizontal Directional Drilling" over a 2,000 foot section of its new Leidy Line pipeline in Montgomery Township. Instead it seeks to employ a more destructive pipeline construction technique known as "trenching" through the area, which includes wetlands and two streams. We are encouraged that NJDEP has indicated that it deems this change to be a Major Permit Modification and has therefore required Transco to submit a new application for an individual permit and will provide the public with an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed change," said representatives of New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association in a statement.

"This is an appropriate decision that is consistent with NJDEP's important responsibility to ensure that sensitive wetlands and waterways are protected and that construction cannot proceed in the absence of a complete analysis. That can only be accomplished with full transparency and openness provided through a public process. We are pleased that NJDEP is taking this action," said Michele Byers, New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

"NJDEP is to be commended for acting to preserve the public's ability to have meaningful input into the permitting process. The state's highly protected wetlands and streams must be appropriately guarded against an unnecessary rush to finish pipeline construction without a full evaluation of alternatives to minimize environmental harm," said Jim Waltman, Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association.

"Our clients went to court to ensure that Transco and NJDEP adhere to the exacting requirements of the regulations. We are pleased that NJDEP recognizes the importance and regulatory requirements of transparency, analysis and public process in wetlands permitting. The major modification process will ensure that Transco and NJDEP explore alternatives that would avoid wetlands impacts." said Jennifer Danis, a lawyer for Eastern Environmental Law Center, representing the conservation groups in their fight against the Leidy pipeline permitting process.

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