Reps Malinowski and Watson Coleman Request Biden Administration Urge FERC to Reexamine PennEast Environmental Impact Statements

May 12, 2021
Press Release

(Somerville, NJ) Today, Representatives Tom Malinowski (NJ-07) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) sent a letter to President Biden requesting that the administration ask the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reexamine the PennEast Pipeline’s Environmental Impact Statements for compliance with existing environmental statutes. The letter also urges the administration to review the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) interstate gas pipeline certification process.

“The previous administration permitted FERC to authorize pipelines unchecked and without regard for environmental impacts; historic farms and pristine public lands in the rural heart of New Jersey may soon pay the price for their negligence. Your administration has committed itself to ambitious environmental goals, to the preservation of public lands, and to reforms to our nation’s energy infrastructure. Reexamining FERC’s interstate gas pipeline certification process and PennEast’s Environmental Impact Statement should be part of your administration’s effort,” wrote the lawmakers.

Over the past several years, Representatives Malinowski and Watson Coleman have met with landowners who live up and down the proposed pipeline route and have seen firsthand the farms it would ruin, the water it would pollute, and way of life it would destroy. They have been active and steadfast in their opposition to its construction, and continue to pursue legislative and regulatory remedies to protect landowners in New Jersey. Read more about their work here.

Read the full text of the letter here and below.

 

Dear President Biden,

We write to express grave concern over the proposed PennEast Pipeline, to request that your administration ask FERC to reexamine PennEast’s Environmental Impact Statements for compliance with existing environmental statutes, and to urge you to review the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) interstate gas pipeline certification process.

For several years now, landowners in our New Jersey districts have been living in fear that their property will be taken or irreparably altered to make way for a pipeline that our state doesn’t want or economically need. We have been meeting with constituents who live up and down the pipeline’s proposed route through western New Jersey and have seen firsthand the farms it would decimate, the waterways it would pollute, and the rural way of life it would destroy. 

The PennEast Pipeline should have never been approved. FERC’s disregard for basic environmental standards has put us in the position we are today. 

The National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) requires that FERC, as the licensing body, consider environmental impacts during its NEPA review process and empowers the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to play an advisory role intended to expose harmful environmental impacts which must then be addressed prior to a pipeline’s authorization. However, in practice the recommendations of these agencies are largely disregarded or bypassed in FERC’s certification process.

The PennEast Pipeline’s approval is a blatant example of FERC’s disregard for NEPA and the authority of our environmental regulatory agencies. The EPA gave PennEast’s Environmental Impact Statement a failing grade; citing significant concerns with the release of arsenic into the soil and groundwater, and noting unacceptable threats to 56 acres of wetland, and 633 acres of forest currently essential to the management of toxic runoff. That failing grade should have been enough to halt PennEast’s certification process until those environmental impacts had been addressed. 

The PennEast Corporation also failed to complete its required Section 404 Clean Water Act inquiry in Pennsylvania with the Army Corps of Engineers. This action now forces Army Corps to complete their own independent review, making PennEast’s certification insufficient.

Moving forward, we ask that your administration reassert its authority to press FERC to reexamine PennEast’s Environmental Impact Statement, and require the PennEast Corporation to obtain a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit in Pennsylvania. We feel an objective review of the available data, and the obvious deficiencies in their proposal will compel FERC to revoke PennEast’s Certificate of Public Need and Necessity.

We also ask that your administration urge FERC to review the requirements of NEPA and the Clean Water Act, and insist that the environmental concerns cited by EPA and other regulatory bodies be addressed prior to authorizing future pipeline construction. 

The previous administration permitted FERC to authorize pipelines unchecked and without regard for environmental impacts; historic farms and pristine public lands in the rural heart of New Jersey may soon pay the price for their negligence. Your administration has committed itself to ambitious environmental goals, to the preservation of public lands, and to reforms to our nation’s energy infrastructure. Reexamining FERC’s interstate gas pipeline certification process and PennEast’s Environmental Impact Statement should be part of your administration’s effort.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

Issues: