PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC said New Jersey regulators' rejection of a permit application for the project was not a surprise, and the company plans to resubmit it.
In a letter sent to PennEast last Thursday, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) said it was denying PennEast's freshwater wetlands permit and federal water quality certification (WQC) application “without prejudice” and invited the company to resubmit it.
In April 2017, after PennEast filed for the permits, the agency told sponsors that the application was incomplete due in part to a lack of landowner permission to survey certain parts of the proposed route. NJDEP closed its environmental review in June, denying a request for more time to address the application’s deficiencies, after PennEast failed to submit the requested information within 60 days,
“Thursday’s announcement by NJDEP is part of the multi-year, multi-jurisdictional review process of an interstate pipeline application,” project spokesperson Patricia Kornick said. “Since PennEast Pipeline received federal approval, landowners have contacted PennEast about providing survey permission, and PennEast will continue to work with other landowners in accordance with the FERC order.”
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a certificate order authorizing the pipeline late last month. With that order, PennEast can now move forward with the remaining field and environmental surveys needed for its New Jersey application. Nearly 75% of landowners have provided survey access across the pipeline’s proposed 120-mile route, about one-third of which would be located in New Jersey. The bulk of the project would be built in Pennsylvania, where state regulators issued a WQC last year.
Kornick didn’t say when PennEast would resubmit its application. After FERC issued the project certificate, opponents said they’d take their fight to New Jersey, where a more rigorous environmental review could be ahead.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy was sworn-in last month and has so far ordered the state to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and issued a transition report calling for more renewable energy, stronger efforts to combat climate change and more protection for water resources. Last week, Murphy also voiced his support for a ban against hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin.
PennEast would move more than 1 Bcf/d of shale gas from northeast Pennsylvania to New Jersey. The project’s sponsors are still targeting a 2019 in-service date.