The Watershed Institute responded to a statement from the PennEast Pipeline Company indicating that it will suspend efforts to condemn land in New Jersey to build its proposed fossil gas pipeline.
The Watershed Institute and other advocates have fought the proposed pipeline through regulatory and legal means since it was first announced seven years ago, according to a statement on Sept. 22.
The dismissal of these condemnation suits in New Jersey, and earlier in Pennsylvania, is an indication the project may not move forward because the proposed pipeline cannot be built along the proposed route without these lands, according to the statement.
“This is very good news for New Jersey’s environment and communities,” Jim Waltman, the Watershed’s executive director, said in the statement. “The proposal would rip through dozens of our state’s most pristine streams and bulldoze through more than 4,300 acres of farmland and open space that has been ostensibly preserved in perpetuity.”
According to a report, PennEast cited ongoing hurdles as reasons to suspend its land condemnation efforts.
“Given the uncertainty on timing to resolve the remaining legal and regulatory hurdles, however, PennEast believes it is not prudent to complete the acquisition of the rights of way in the pending actions as it might not be necessary for some time,” company spokesperson Patricia Kornick said, according to the statement. “PennEast is exploring with attorneys representing landowners the idea of dismissing the actions without prejudice and restarting legal proceedings once it clears the regulatory hurdles and has a better understanding of when it would need to acquire the property interests.”
Waltman also raised concerns about the climate impacts of additional fossil fuel infrastructure like the proposed PennEast Pipeline.
“Our future energy needs must be met through greater investment in renewable energy sources, not an additional fossil fuel projects that contribute to climate change,” according to the statement.
Sen. Kip Bateman also responded, saying, “We’ve been fighting this battle for nearly seven years, working with elected officials, concerned residents, two governors, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and a host of environmental groups to stop PennEast.
“I don’t know if this signals the end of PennEast’s plan to build the pipeline, but it’s hard to see a path forward that doesn’t include condemnation. Hopefully this really is the end,” he said.