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Conservation group says FERC did not properly assess PennEast pipeline impacts

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Conservation group says FERC did not properly assess PennEast pipeline impacts

An environmental group said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission did not fully evaluate changes to the proposed route of PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC's 1.1-Bcf/d natural gas transportation project.

In an Oct. 21 letter, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network said FERC should reassess impacts that include effects on the climate, wetlands, endangered species, water quality, and public health and safety. The group said the developers failed to include sufficient information about the pipeline project in its application with FERC.

The commission issued an environmental assessment Sept. 20 that was positive for the project.

PennEast said more than 23 federal, regional and state agencies have reviewed the project. "After more than three years of scientific and regulatory review, federal regulators in January 2018 affirmed the PennEast pipeline is a major infrastructure project in the public benefit, and environmentally safe for air, land and water," spokesperson Patricia Kornick said in an Oct. 24 statement. "The comprehensive review also noted that 'the PennEast project will not have adverse long-term impacts on waterbodies, including surface water and groundwater resources.'"

The pipeline project, which would run between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, has faced opposition from landowners, lawmakers and conservation groups.

In an Aug. 13 letter, Delaware Riverkeeper asked the Delaware River Basin Commission to claim jurisdiction over the project. The group said the commission had "failed to fulfill its legal obligations to protect our water sources from irreparable harm in the past."

On Sept. 10, the U.S. Appeals Court for the 3rd Circuit found that PennEast, even with the eminent domain power that goes with a Natural Gas Act certificate from FERC, could not pull New Jersey into court to condemn state lands. States have sovereign immunity under the 11th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Following the ruling, two Democratic U.S. House representatives from New Jersey asked FERC to immediately issue a stop-work order for the project.

The 36-inch-diameter PennEast pipeline is a joint venture of South Jersey Industries Inc., Enbridge Inc., Southern Co. Inc., New Jersey Resources Corp. and UGI Corp. It would run about 120 miles from Luzerne County, Pa., to Mercer County, N.J. The project would also include a compressor station. FERC approved the estimated $1 billion project in January 2018. (FERC docket CP15-558)

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