by Jon Sokolow
Today, PennEast Pipeline Co. announced that it has canceled a proposed-116 mile fracked gas pipeline in New Jersey. Cancelation comes despite the fact that the company has received federal permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and despite the fact that it recently won a Supreme Court decision that allowed it to use eminent domain to take land owned by the State of New Jersey.
PennEast’s cancelation brings to mind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which in 2020 also won what turned out to be a pyrrhic victory in the Supreme Court on a permit to cross national forest land, only to cancel the entire $8 billion project several months later because it lacked other required permits.
PennEast was canceled because New Jersey exercised its power under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to deny state certification. In fact, the company admitted that this is exactly why it has canceled the project:
“PennEast Pipeline Co. said that although it received federal approval for the 116-mile pipeline from Luzerne County to Mercer County in New Jersey and some permits, it has not received water quality certification and wetlands permits required under the Clean Water Act.
‘Therefore, the PennEast partners, following extensive evaluation and discussion, recently determined further development of the project is no longer supported. Accordingly, PennEast has ceased all further development of the project,’ the company said in the statement.”
As we noted just last week, the Virginia State Water Control Board is holding hearings September 27-28 to consider whether it should issue the same Section 401 permits that New Jersey refused to issue for PennEast. A final decision on the permit is expected in December. Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality is pushing hard for the citizen board, whose members were appointed by Governor Ralph Northam, to issue the permit, which would allow Mountain Valley Pipeline to cross more than 100 water bodies and wetlands in Virginia.
PennEast’s cancelation comes on the same day that reports emerged of yet another landslide along the MVP construction route. This is not the first time that landslides have occurred as a result of MVP’s work on steep mountain slopes.
Mountain Valley already has inflicted huge damage on Virginia’s pristine water and land resources, violating Virginia law hundreds of times, which is why it was fined millions of dollars by the Commonwealth. That is reason enough for Virginia to do exactly what New Jersey had the courage to do and deny Mountain Valley Pipeline’s request to inflict even further damage on our resources.
If you want to send a message to the State Water Control Board today, follow this link. It only takes a minute!
Because it’s never too late to do the right thing!