Governor Murphy's office has a webpage for the public to submit comments. This is a convenient way to add your voice to the chorus of New Jersey citizens that oppose the pipeline expansion and the associated compressor station. Here are the steps to take:
You can also send a letter via regular mail.
When you came to office, people were pleased to hear your promises to reduce New Jersey’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. The State now has aggressive goals (50% GHG emission reduction from 2006 levels ) and we are less than eight years away from the first checkpoint. Allowing the TGP pipeline expansion in Wantage and West Milford will increase the amount of methane released from New Jersey. During the last few years, the body of scientific evidence demonstrating harmful consequences of methane emissions has only grown and strengthened.
Just last November, you issued Executive Order 274 stating, “WHEREAS, global atmospheric warming, caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels, constitutes one of the greatest long-term threats currently facing humanity and is leading to significant changes in climate patterns here in New Jersey, across the United States, and around the world, resulting in rising sea levels, increased flooding, more frequent and severe extreme weather events, and numerous other adverse environmental impacts…” Clearly the threat of increased GHG emissions from fossil fuels is a danger we both acknowledge.
Under your watch, the State updated the Global Warming Response Act to call for GHG emissions to be 80% below 2006 levels by 2050. You issued Executive Order No. 100 (…to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate pollutants). In it, Paragraph 1.C states, “..Integrate climate change considerations, such as sea level rise, into its regulatory and permitting programs, including but not limited to, land use permitting, water supply, stormwater and wastewater permitting and planning, air quality, and solid waste and site remediation permitting.”
Given the above, it is imperative that New Jersey consider the fact that approving the pipeline Compressor Station upgrades not only goes against the orders you have declared, but will increase one of the most potent GHG emissions there is. Increasing methane emissions in our protected Highlands Region is an insult to all the residents that have had to sacrifice to comply with the protections the Highlands Act demands.
You have made the executive orders and you have the power to stop this unnecessary expansion. Controlling methane emissions is one of the quickest ways to reduce the GHG issue in the short term. Please act now!
Our partner in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), New York, is also keenly aware of the impact methane has on climate change. They have prevented fracking in the western section of their state because of its harms to the environment. New York has also rejected numerous gas pipeline expansions in the past decade.
In the 2017 New York Methane Reduction Plan, the State observed that “Methane accounts for 9% of New York State greenhouse gas emissions and is second to carbon dioxide in its contribution to climate change as a result of its high volume in the atmosphere and strong radiative effects. Moreover, we may not fully understand the extent of methane emissions, as estimates of methane leakage from oil and natural gas infrastructure, landfills, and farm activities continue to increase with new research and improved reporting.”
When New York looks at where those leaks come from, they concluded, “Midstream emissions… [accounted] for 67.8% of emissions, with compressors (storage and transmission) comprising the largest source categories in the inventory. In fact, storage and transmission compressor stations are the two largest single-source categories identified in New York State…”
Clearly, New York recognizes the harm to our planet as a whole, as well as their own climate change targets of compressor stations along pipelines. It is why they reject so many pipeline proposals. It is easy to infer that this pipeline project is attractive to New York since they will get the natural gas they need from Pennsylvania, but Pennsylvania and New Jersey will get the emissions hit. This should be irrelevant since all methane emissions are a global problem, but New York’s political maneuvering should not be hidden by abusing New Jersey’s protected areas.
They know that pipeline transmission is a big part of the GHG emissions. “Although natural gas production in New York State has declined since 2006, this trend [methane emissions] closely follows increased natural gas consumption, which has risen by 16.2%, from 1,080 Bcf in 2005 to 1,255 Bcf in 2017. Correspondingly, emissions from transmission compressor stations have risen in order to accommodate increased natural gas throughput in the State… Midstream emissions… [accounted] for 67.8% of emissions, with compressors (storage and transmission) comprising the largest source categories in the inventory.”
New York is attempting to conceal the true cost of this project by shunting the emissions into New Jersey. They recognize how damaging GHG emissions are from transmission and compression and will saddle other states with that burden. New Jersey should not play this shell game.
We got here when Con Edison announced that all new gas hookups in Westchester County would be suspended until they could secure more supply. They have used this ploy before, but neighboring New York City already passed legislation to ban new gas hookups starting as early as 2024. Con Edison supported this action. New Jersey must ask if New York is serious about reducing its GHG emissions. If it is, then this project has little benefit since it is a year or more from delivering on its promise.
Concerns about the power transmission to compensate for the loss of new gas hookups is not a problem according to Con Edison. Since a majority of natural gas usage is during the winter months, Con Edison can handle the load. In the same testimony, they state, “Our electric grid is well-poised to support the transition to heating electrification. Because our system is built to serve our customers’ energy use during the hottest summer afternoon (about 13,000 MW) and energy use is currently lower in the winter (about 8,000 MW), many parts of our system can easily support the growth of heating electrification for the coming years.”
Con Edison (like New Jersey and New York) also has a commitment to the future. Their “Clean Energy Commitment” has five pillars. Pillar three is “Reimagine the Gas System” and contains the following initiatives :
All of the above are contrary to their stated goals in the pipeline application. Con Edison and Tennessee Gas Pipeline are working together to increase the natural gas supply in RGGI states through any means necessary to get the infrastructure in place before the anticipated ban on new pipelines and pipeline upgrades. This project is unnecessary and, worse, makes a joke out of your and New York’s stated climate goals.
While the residents of Ringwood and other Highlands communities suffer under the development restrictions meant to protect the drinking water of our state, NY and TGP continue to use this watershed as a highway for fracked gas. Since the gas is planned to allow Westchester County to continue development while New Jersey bears the increased risk of transporting this fuel, it is especially appalling to Highlands residents to see their region put at risk so a state that has banned fracking can grow its development using this very same fuel.
The Highlands has already allowed this to proceed under Exemption #11, which is the “routine maintenance and operations, rehabilitation, preservation, reconstruction, repair or upgrade of public utility lines, rights-of-way, or systems, by a public utility, provided that the activity is consistent with the goals and purposes of the Highlands Act”.
It is hard to fathom how an upgrade for a fracked gas line to feed a state that will not allow this environmentally harmful practice is “consistent with the goals and purposes of the Highlands Act.” Instead, it appears that an exemption designed to make sure the existing residents could receive proper utilities is being exploited to turn the Highlands Region into a dangerous energy super highway. If we do not stop this expansion now, when will it end?
Across the Highlands, we have already seen TGP break its promises by failing to replant the new pipeline that was put in less than 10 years ago. While the sections of the pipeline near roadways have functioning gates and native vegetation thriving from regular watering; the interior of the forest is littered with broken gates (allowing increased, illegal ORV traffic), dead plantings from lack of water and invasive weeds. In some areas it is so bad they have to spray pesticides. TGP's 300-line project, completed in November, 2011 seriously damaged Lake Lookover in Hewitt, NJ and Bearfort Waters in West Milford including the siltation and destruction of waterways through mudslides, increased flooding and impacts to drinking water wells.
The County Commissioners yielded to the interests of their Union bosses who are aligned with the pipeline company. Despite the knowledge that the work is done by out-of-state labor, the Commissioners sided with TGP who pressured the unions.
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