“If we talk about climate change but keep these pipelines going, all you’re doing is giving our planet more hot air,” NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said at a recent rally opposing a natural gas compressor station planned near Trap Rock Quarry.
Photo caption: Montgomery area residents protest fossil fuel projects, including the natural gas compression station proposed next to Trap Rock Quarry on the Montgomery border.
The Williams Transco Gas Company plans to build a natural gas compressor facility, known as Station 206, on the border of Montgomery and Rocky Hill, in Franklin Township. About 150 locals attended a rally at East Brunswick’s Hammarskjold Middle School on March 18 to protest the facility.
The NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) still needs to schedule a public hearing on the Transco company’s water permit applications for the project, and is accepting public comments on the company's application until Wednesday April 17.
Written comments should be sent by mail or email to Matthew Resnick, Division of Land Use Regulation, PO Box 420, Trenton, NJ 08625-0420, or email Matthew.Resnick@dep.nj.gov and Robert Hudgins in the Division of Water Supply & Geoscience, P.O. Box 420 Trenton, NJ 08625-0420 or email Robert.Hudgins@dep.nj.gov.
The compressor station would provide gas pipeline infrastructure for Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE), which would carry fracked gas from the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania through pipelines in central New Jersey, under the Raritan Bay to National Grid (natural gas and electricity) customers on Long Island.
Residents and opponents of the 32-mile-long Transco NESE project said fracking activities in Pennsylvania’s Marchellus Shale region can increase exponentially as enough natural gas has been identified there to power all of the country's electricity needs for 10 years.
Protestors also commented on the alarming potential for operations to expand in New Jersey, with natural gas being shipped to Europe, through local pipeline infrastructure to area ports.
Opponents of Compressor Station 206 cite the September 2018 explosions along natural gas lines owned by Columbia Gas Co., causing fires in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover, Massachussetts in close to 40 homes with more than 80 individual fires. The cause of the explosions was linked to excessive pressure on the gas lines, with USA Today reporting pressure at 12 times the normal level.
At the rally, proponents for the compressor station included dozens of construction workers and union members, including a truck driver with an LED sign who circled the parking lot with a message in favor of union labor, the gas pipeline, and the compressor station.
Tittel of the Sierra Club said there are a wide range of environmental impacts, some of which were detailed in the 759-page Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) released for the NESE project on January 25 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
According to Tittel, Williams Transco filed other applications for gas pipelines and infrastructure in the state, but any secondary and cumulative impacts is omitted from the individual project applications to the NJDEP and FERC. It has been clear from maps and drawings released that much fracked gas is likely to go out of state, as supply for New York City, Long Island, and coastal New England, rather than for servicing New Jersey residents.
“The pipeline would cut through the already polluted and sensitive Raritan Bay and New York Bay. When you cut through bays like the Raritan, chemicals like dioxane and PCBs can get into fisheries as well as ecology of the bay,” Tittel said.
The FEIS for the NESE project identified severe degradation of the forested areas the site would occupy in Franklin Township, as well as the potential for air and water pollution. The D&R Canal running through Kingston and north of Lake Carnegie, for example, is the drinking water source for many local municipalities. ■