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The Murphy DEP Did NOT “Deny” The PennEast Pipeline Permits

Gov. Murphy’s Tweet Was Trump-Like In It’s Exaggeration & Falsehood 

Starting the New Year On The Wrong Foot – NJ Spotlight Again Gets It Wrong

[Update: 1/6/20NJ Spotlight reports the latest on PennEast, who is seeking at least a 2 year delay in FERC certificate in service timetables.

Once again, they got it wrong on the permit status:

In October, the DEP denied PennEast’s application for a water-quality permit for the second time, saying the Third Circuit’s ruling means the company “no longer has the legal authority to perform activities” on the 49 parcels.

Wrong again – the “no longer has the legal authority” issue is NOT a denial of the permits on the technical merits. The DEP deemed the applications incomplete because company can’t submit a complete application because they are blocked from condemning state land.

The reason why this distinction is important is because DEP sets no regulatory precedent, while avoiding any focus on loopholes in DEP regulations regarding water quality certification and lack of greenhouse gas emission standards. That means OTHER pipelines and fossil infrastructure can be approved.

If DEP were forced to make a regulatory decision on the merits, that would trigger the obvious need for a Gubernatorial moratorium and reforms to DEP regulations regarding pipeline reviews. This moratorium and regulatory ratchet down would apply to ALL fossil infrastructure, not just PennEast.  Spotlight can’t seem to understand these issues and is listening to the selfish perspective of Tom Gilbert, who only cares about the PennEast pipeline.  ~~~ end update]

I had planned to correct the false impression that DEP had “denied” the PennEast pipeline permit applications when that story was first reported by NJ Spotlight back on October 11, but got diverted.

Then my head exploded when I saw Gov. Murphy’s  over the top Tweet declaring victory:

My Administration fought and won in court to stop the proposed 116-mile Penn East natural gas pipeline. This week, @NewJerseyDEP denied and closed the application.

Gov. Murphy is spouting falsehoods: The permits were not “denied” and the application is not “closed”. The permits are pending and the application is open.

I can understand getting the fast breaking story wrong on the first report, back on October 11, before folks had  chance to digest the documents and talk to experts. But it’s been almost 3 months for the reality to emerge, including submission of a response to DEP by PennEast (see below), so it is unforgivable to repeat the lies and spin.

So today, we’re starting the new year on the right foot. I plan on exposing this crap every time I read it.

See my letter to NJ Spotlight reporter Jon Hurdle below, which corrects the errors and provides supporting links to the documents.

This is a correction you will not get from the Rethink NJ Murphy sycophants and DEP cheerleaders:

Jon – I hate to kick off the new year with a headache, but you are being spun and I have to correct a very misleading piece of today’s preview.

You report – based on a prior Spotlight story – that DEP “denied permits for a planned natural-gas pipeline”.

That is highly misleading if not downright false.

DEP did NOT “deny” the PennEast pipeline permits. DEP determined that they were “administratively incomplete” and sent them back for supplementation.

That is a minor and routine practice in the DEP permit process. The DEP issued what is known as a “deficiency letter”. DEP notes that on it’s website, see:


That DEP letter is NOT a “denial” on the merits and if you read the DEP letter, it explicitly says that the permits were NOT denied “with prejudice” (i.e. on the merits).See:


In fact, if you read PennEast’s 10/11/19 response letter to the DEP, you will note that DEP made embarrassing technical errors and misinterpreted their own regulations, see:


(for some reason, I can’t get the PennEast letter link to work, both the DEP version and NJ BIA’s links. Try cut & paste into your browser)

Your readers deserve an accurate understanding of the DEP permit process. This was a procedural move and delaying tactic, at most.

Gov. Murphy’s Tweet claiming a permit “denial” was an outrageous example of Trump like spin and exaggeration.


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