The fight over the PennEast Pipeline is flaring up again.
Pipeline officials have resubmitted their applications for water permits to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
PennEast filed a legal notice published Aug.1, announcing its intention to file for the necessary permits, which it did a week later.
“The application affirms the initial finding by federal regulators that the PennEast Pipeline can be built and operated in a way that meets or exceeds modern safety standards and is safe for the environment,” PennEast spokesperson Patricia Kornick said in a statement.
The pipeline company has completed its land surveys, which had been granted through an eminent domain ruling that is still facing legal challenges in court. Construction of the pipeline cannot begin until those legal challenges have been adjudicated.
Despite that and the other approvals needed, Kornick said she anticipates construction to begin sometime in 2020 and the pipeline will become operational seven months after construction starts.
PennEast’s filing drew a response from its critics.
Environmental organization ReThink Energy NJ mailed color postcards to local residents within days of the pipeline company’s application, announcing PennEast’s submission while encouraging residents’ participation in fighting the pipeline.
“There is clear and compelling evidence that the PennEast pipeline is not needed, would irreparably harm protected waterways and wildlife, and be inconsistent with New Jersey’s clean energy goals,” Tom Gilbert, campaign director for New Jersey Conservation Foundation and ReThink Energy NJ, said in a statement.
About two-thirds of the pipeline would be built in Pennsylvania. PennEast officials have maintained the gas carried by the new pipeline would be used exclusively for domestic heating, energy and manufacturing purposes, rather than export.
“While just one-third of the entire project route is in New Jersey, residents and businesses stand to benefit,” Kornick said.
Kornick maintains the application affirms the initial finding by federal regulators that the pipeline can be built and operated in a way that “meets or exceeds modern safety standards and is safe for the environment.”
New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel has said the pipeline could be stopped with one stroke of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s pen.
“Gov. Murphy also has a role in stopping the pipeline by putting a moratorium on fossil fuel projects,” Tittel said in a statement after the news broke.
The New Jersey Sierra Club has been battling the PennEast Pipeline for five years, marking that anniversary Aug. 10.
“The PennEast Pipeline and project would cut through an incredible amount of environmentally sensitive areas, critical drinking water, and historic properties,” Tittel said.
Kornick said PennEast officials have listened to suggestions, incorporating feedback and minimizing environmental impacts based on discussions and correspondence with NJDEP over the last five years.
“That feedback has delivered a route in New Jersey that largely aligns with decades-old power lines and roadways to dramatically lower overall impacts,” she said.
The 120-mile, 36-inch diameter pipeline would carry natural gas from northeastern Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region in Luzerne County, crossing the Delaware River just north of Milford before ending at Transco’s pipeline interconnection in Mercer County, N.J.
“The law is on our side. The facts are on our side. And the science is on our side,” Gilbert said. “This project is not in the public interest.”