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DEP’s denial of permits for pipeline through Raritan Bay hailed in region

Local elected officials and representatives of environmental groups continued to share their pleasure this week with recent decisions in New Jersey and New York that scuttled plans for the construction of a 23-mile-long pipeline through Raritan Bay to Rockaway, N.Y.

In mid-May, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation rejected a permit application submitted by the Williams Company to build the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project.

In addition to constructing a pipeline through the Raritan Bay, the company was also proposing to construct a compressor station in Franklin Township, Somerset County.

The Williams Company operates the Transco pipeline, a 10,000-mile interstate transmission pipeline system that transports much of the natural gas consumed in the northeastern United States.

The system includes more than 50 compressor facilities and currently features more than 500 miles of pipe and five compressor facilities in New Jersey, according to information provided by Williams regarding NESE.

NESE was a proposed $1 billion enhancement of existing Transco infrastructure in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

Laura Creekmur, vice president of communications and corporate social responsibility for Williams, said, “We are disappointed with the decisions … to deny the NESE permits. While we continue to believe in the fundamentals of this project, we will not re-file in New Jersey or New York at this time.”

Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, said, “NESE is finally dead in the water. Three cheers for the hard work of the coalition on both sides of the ocean in the New York-New Jersey region, and the thousands of citizens who rallied to stop NESE.

“We salute Gov. (Phil) Murphy and the DEP for recognizing this project would have devastated the environment, and is and will always be UN-NESE-SARY,” Zipf said.

Peter Blair, policy attorney for Clean Ocean Action, said, “In a sweeping victory for the environment, New Jersey doubled down on its commitment to a clean energy future by denying crucial permits for NESE.

“If approved, the project would have resulted in drastic environmental damage and locked the region into decades of continued reliance on climate-altering fracked gas. This denial is a tremendous win, future-proofing our environment for generations to come. We applaud the leadership of Gov. Murphy and the DEP,” Blair said.

During a Township Committee meeting on May 18, Middletown Mayor Tony Perry commended everyone who stood in opposition to the proposed pipeline.

“In the 1990s, this state took a stand to protect its beaches. Why would we pollute New Jersey’s greatest asset? Our fishermen in Belford and our community are grateful for the support of our local mayors, the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders and other groups who opposed this project,” Perry said.

Hazlet Mayor Michael Glackin said his community “was happy to support Clean Ocean Action in opposition to the devastation the NESE pipeline would have had on the environment. A special thanks to Cindy Zipf’s efforts in educating residents and local governments on this issue. This is a victory for all of us.”

Citizens for Informed Land Use (CILU), which is based in Holmdel, said, “For all CILU members who attended rallies sponsored by Clean Ocean Action, wrote letters to the governor or called his office to oppose this project, for those who shared emails or Facebook posts or told friends about this issue, we thank you.

“This was a significant win for the people of New Jersey. While a Williams spokesperson said they would not file an appeal, it is possible they could pursue further legal action. CILU will remain vigilant to protect our natural resources,” the organization said in a statement.

On its website, CILU says it “promotes thoughtful land use decisions, the protection of our natural resources and a government based on open communication with an informed electorate.”

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