South Brunswick residents who are fighting a proposed pipeline in nearby Franklin Township are receiving assistance from a local congresswoman.
Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Burlington, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean) has announced that she will introduce legislation to toughen Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) oversight by requiring it to apply more comprehensive procedures to its review of proposed pipeline applications before granting a certificate of public convenience and necessity, according to a prepared statement.
“The process that FERC uses to approve pipelines is inherently flawed and genuinely threatens our environment, green spaces and water resources, and public and private lands, doing so without ever proving that these pipelines are necessary,” she said at Baldpate Mountain in Titusville, the route of the proposed PennEast pipeline project. “The SAFER Pipelines Act would make critical changes to how FERC considers pipeline proposals by creating a comprehensive framework that considers the cumulative impacts of pipelines and ensures they are truly necessary before approving them.
“Whether it’s PennEast here in New Jersey or a proposed pipeline across the country, FERC should only approve applications that are necessary and serve the public good as the first priority,” she said.
The legislation would require FERC to conduct either a full evidentiary hearing or a cumulative review of major energy infrastructure projects that are planned throughout a region to determine if there is a need for the project, according to the statement. It would mandate that, prior to granting a certificate of approval, FERC must consider an analysis of demonstrated regional need for additional gas, the inefficient use of existing and underutilized pipelines, the effect the proposed pipelines would have on customers of existing pipelines, compliance with clean power plans and renewable energy goals and a region’s ability to meet energy deficiencies with economically viable and less environmentally disruptive alternatives.
“The current FERC system is broken and New Jersey is facing an onslaught of proposed pipelines throughout the state. The improved oversight that will result from Rep. Watson Coleman’s proposed legislation is needed to protect our natural resources and communities from the overbuilding of pipeline infrastructure,” said Michele S. Byers, executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
Last month, a resolution sponsored by New Jersey Assembly Members Elizabeth Maher Muoio (D-Hunterdon, Mercer), Reed Gusciora (D-Hunterdon, Mercer) and Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) was passed by the Assembly, urging the president and Congress to change laws and urging FERC to revise its rules concerning interstate pipeline approvals.
The U.S. Senate heard testimony on June 14 by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), cautioning against overbuilding unnecessary pipelines and calling for FERC to take a closer look at market need, according to the statement.
“Retail energy customers would benefit from policy refinements whereby FERC undertakes a more robust and detailed assessment of the extent and duration of market need for new interstate pipeline capacity by refining its longstanding pipeline permitting policy, which largely relies on the mere existence of transportation service contracts as sufficient evidence of market need,” said Jonathan Peress, director of Air Policy for EDF.
For more information, visit njconservation.org, thewatershed.org, rethinkenergynj.org or watsoncoleman.house.gov/sites/watsoncoleman.house.gov/files/documents/WATSNJ_047_xml.pdf