Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Under fire, PennEast proposes 33 pipeline route changes

Beset with criticism about the environmental impacts of its project, the developer of the PennEast natural-gas pipeline is proposing dozens of modifications to its route through parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Tom Johnson reports for NJ Spotlight:
The PennEast Pipeline Company LLC Friday filed new changes to its pipeline route with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, including seven in New Jersey. All told, the company made 33 modifications to the 118-mile route, adding two miles in the process.
The changes minimize environmental impacts by modifying the route to run along existing transmission lines — avoiding wildlife habitats and reducing tree clearing, according to the company. No new landowners are affected by the revisions, the company said.
But critics argued that the modifications — made after public comment closed on a draft environmental impact statement — demonstrate the harm posed by building the pipeline and called on regulators to undertake a new analysis of the project.
“It’s pretty significant route changes — both in New Jersey and Pennsylvania,’’ said Tom Gilbert, campaign director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “It calls into question the whole EIS.’’
Not a single federal or state agency voiced any support for the projects submitted on its EIS, Gilbert noted. “FERC must withdraw the application to fully evaluate a no-action alternative.’’
But Pat Kornick, a spokeswoman for PennEast, said the company submitted its route modification based on comments made by the public and government agencies and were responsive to their recommendations.
The changes reduce the permanent impacts on forested wetlands by 64 percent; curb impacts to endangered species, including a known salamander habitat in Delaware Township; and incorporate 23 additional trenchless crossings to reduce impacts to pristine waterways. 
Read the full story here

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