Home > Uncategorized > Tennessee Gas Pipeline Blasts Through NJ Highlands & Watershed Lands – Will Import Marcellus Frack Gas

Tennessee Gas Pipeline Blasts Through NJ Highlands & Watershed Lands – Will Import Marcellus Frack Gas

Why is Environmental Review Just Beginning on a Project Already Under Construction?

Tennessee Gas Pipeline udne construction, destroyong forest in Newark Watershed lands, Hihglan Lakes, NJ (looking east)

Tennessee Gas Pipeline under construction, destroying forests in Newark Watershed (Highland Lakes, NJ -view looking east)


[Updates below]

I just got home  from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) scoping hearing on one of the multiple segments on the controversial Tennessee Gas Co. pipeline project (TGP) (see today’s Star Ledger set up story.) (Tennessee is part of the El Paso – as in Texas – pipeline Group).

The hearing was held up in Ringwood.  About 65 residents turned out to oppose the project, including the NJ Highlands Coalition and Sierra Club.

Scoping is required by NEPA regulations. It is supposed to be “an early and open proess for determining the scope of issues to be addressed and for identifying the significant issues related to a proposed action.”

The TGP project would have a series of  major negative impacts. It is just one piece of a massive regional gas pipeline infrastructure expansion project. It would transport 1 billion cubic feet per day of Marcellus shale gas, through Pennsylvania into the NY metro region.

Marcellus shale “fracking” is controversial: NY State and the Delaware River Basin Commission have imposed  moratoria on well drilling. The US EPA is conducting a national study of the impacts of drilling and legislation is pending in Congress to strictly regulate fracking (see:

Given these significant scientific, regulatory, and legislative efforts, it is premature for FERC to consider this pipeline proposal. Reviews should wait until the scientific data are in and a new regulatory framework is established. Resolution of those pending actions will have large impacts on the availability and quantity of gas supply and the environmental safeguards on fracking Marcellus gas.

Additionally, 1 billion cubic feet of new gas supply would have significant energy price and demand impacts, which could undermine cost effective energy conservation and development of alternative renewable energy technologies. FERC must consider broader energy policy and economics, and assure that this project does not harm sound energy infrastructure capacity and overall regional energy policy, particularly global warming, efficiency, and renewable energy policy. NJ’s Energy Master Plan and Global Warming Response Act emission reductions must be considered by FERC.

From a land use perspective, the proposed “Northeast Upgrade” portion of the overall project is 37 miles of 30 inch diameter pipeline that would cut through and destroy at least 638 acres of extremely environmentally senstivite forested and unique public parklands, including the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Appalachian Trail, the NJ Highlands, and numerous State Parks, streams, wetlands, water supply watershed lands, critical wildlife habitat, water supply reservoirs, and historic sites. FERC must not allow Tennessse to segment the larger project, and must conduct a full blown EIS and rigorously evaluate cumulative and secondary impacts of the overall project.

To try to get a quick handle on the TGP project, I did a little research on the FERC review process.

Even for someone with experience in environmental regulation, it is very difficult to understand how the various pieces of this puzzle fit together, see the big picture and get a handle on exactly what the Tennessee Gas pipeline project is. There are a number of different plans and routes out there.

The Tennessee project has been segmented, and broken into at least 5 diffferent “loops”, which are difficult to understand as they are described. For example, Here is a recent NEPA scoping on the related “300 Line” project.

The FERC reviews process; the NEPA environmental impact review process; and federal and state environmental permitting are extremely complex and not transparent to the average citizen, making it difficult to participate effectively. Each government agency has its own silo, with no one looking out for the overall public interest. This makes it easy for Tennessee to game the system.

After a little effort, I found out that some NJ segments of the Tennessee pipeline project in NJ are already under construction. In their most recent weekly status report, Tennessee Gas reported to FERC:

“Pipeline Construction Loop 325, Sussex and Passaic Counties, New Jersey – Construction of 15.98 miles of a new 30-inch diameter pipeline adjacent to existing right-of-way.  Clearing operations began at the right-of-way off of Highland Lake Road; (Highland Lakes). The clearing crew worked east of the horizontal directional drill entry from MP 6.57 to MP 7.25. Sensitive species exclusion fencing was installed as needed prior to Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company 300 Line Project (“Project”), Docket No. CP09-444-000 Weekly Status Report Week of October 17, 2010 through October 23, 2010

This most recent Tennessee progress Report to FERC on the” Pipeline Construction Loop 325″ appears to overlap or conflict with the FERC Environmental Assessment summary document distributed at the hearing tonight. That FERC document descibes the proposed “Northeast Upgrade Project” as including:

Loop 325 – Installation of 7.7 miles of 30-inch diameter pipeline loop in Passaic and Bergen Counties” (@page 3)

Before tonight’s hearing, I decided to take a ride up and observe the forest destruction in the Sussex and Passaic stretch described in the FERC Status Report. Here’s what I saw:




El Paso goons ran me off the site - the first words out of their mouths were: "no photos allowed"s

El Paso goons ran me off the site – the first words out of their mouths were: “no photos allowed”. No big deal, I bushwacked to ridges.

This is the existing pipeline right of way - the forest seems to be healing.

This is the existing pipeline right of way – the forest seems to be healing.

[Update #3 – Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Where the hell was DEP during permitting? Where is DEP enforcement now? See: Residents of West Milford’s Lake Lookover continue to deal with runoff problem

[Update #2 – 11/4/10 – I testified at the second hearing in Milford Pa. last night. About 60 residents attended. Six or seven property owners raised objections – one well informed resident spoke of the need to consider cumulative impacts and opposed Marcellus fracking. The Town of Milford raised concerns with truck impacts on rural roads and safety of the existing 55 year old pipeline. No environmental groups participated.

Elpaso corporate flacks tried to justify the project as balancing a little forest destruction with the benefits of cleaner burning gas.

I took them up on that and suggested that maybe that “balance” would be acceptable if FERC an EPA teamed up to mandate that all the coal fired power plants in the pipeline corridor be required to convert from coal to gas. I asked FERC to conduct a full blown EIS and make a regional coal plant inventory and fuel conversion part of the impact assessment. Who knows, based on that info, mabe FERC or EPA would pull the trigger?. Dream on!]

[Update 1 – 11/3/10 FERC Federal Register Notice – hearing tonight in Milford, Pa. at Delaware Valley HS]

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  1. Kathleen Myers
    March 1st, 2011 at 20:41 | #1

    This is what I grew up looking at back in the 70’s. I grew up with the “pipeline” and Skylands Manor of Ringwood State Park in my backyard. I can remember sledding on the hills and hiking the trails practically every day. I cant imagine what destruction is going on with no resposibility on the TGP’s part. I live in West Milford, NJ now and see it first hand right on Valley Road by the Golf Driving Range. The deal isn’t even final and they already started cutting the trees down. There are many meetings about saving the Historic farms and oldgrowth trees on said farms, which is great, but no one is even questioning what the real problem is. The process of Fracking. Because of Good ‘ole Dick Chaney, the war criminal, and his relation to Halibertan, a major Natural Gas Extraction Co., he fixed it so these Companies don’t have to divulge the Chemicals used in the process of extracting the natural gas. They are highly toxic and are injected with fresh water into the ground to release this gas. The water and chemicals do not get removed but remain in the ground. I live on well water as do so many households in W.M., so this is one of the biggest concerns for me. I can’t believe that there isn’t anything being brought up in these meetings about the chemicals being released into our ground water. What is wrong with people these days. This area is surrounded by watershed property that feeds upwards of 8 million people in Newark, Jersey city and locations adjacent. Why don’t people stand up against these companies? I just don’t get it. Are people that blind with thoughts of themselves in their little boxes with their earbuds on that they don’t see what is going on? Or is it carelessness? Hasn’t anyone seen the youtube pic of the man’s kitchen faucet catching in fire in PA where this is also going on? COME ON PEOPLE, GET RIGHT!!!!

  2. Judith Joan Sullivan
    June 28th, 2011 at 21:51 | #2

    There’s another hearing coming up. I was not informed of this and now I’m very upset. http://www.co.bergen.nj.us/PDF%27s/Bergen_County_scoping_notice.pdf

  3. Jennifer
    July 11th, 2011 at 16:29 | #3

    @Kathleen Myers
    Katleen I was wondering if you have noticed any effects in your water since the new pipeline has been installed?

  1. November 4th, 2010 at 15:16 | #1
  2. November 17th, 2010 at 19:17 | #2
  3. December 19th, 2010 at 14:24 | #3
  4. February 24th, 2011 at 23:38 | #4
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