Home > Uncategorized > “Green” Sycophants Provide False Praise To NJ Gov. Murphy For Killing Raritan Pipeline

“Green” Sycophants Provide False Praise To NJ Gov. Murphy For Killing Raritan Pipeline

Misplaced Focus On FERC Gives Murphy A Pass

FERC’s 2 Year Extension “does not change the state of play”

Critical pipeline decisions before Biden EPA, Congress, & federal Courts fly under the radar

[Update 1: This Harvard law piece provides context and can help explain the basics – note that Biden EPA has not repealed the Trump EPA rollback rule:

[Update 2 – I just learned that NJ AG Grewal joined 20 other States in suing the Trump EPA on this rule. Remarkably, this got ZERO media attention in NJ – I don’t think AG Grewal even issued a press releasee. See:

Will Biden AG settle these cases? Will Biden EPA repeal the Trump EPA rollback? Why the silence by the green groups and media?  end update]

Once again, New Jersey media is reporting three egregious falsehoods, while missing the real story:

1) that the Murphy NJ DEP “denied” critical permits for a controversial natural gas pipeline under Raritan Bay known as the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NSE);

2) that NJ DEP’s permit decision was the same as New York’s denial; and

3) that a recent FERC extension is significant.

Each one is factually false, and I went into great detail to explain exactly why the first two are false in this post.

Below, I explain why the third claim is false as well. And I mean factually false.

Here is the most recent example, in a May 21 story by NJ.com 

But after New Jersey and New York both rejected necessary permits for the project, first in 2019 and again in 2020, that federal deadline passed without the pipeline having been built. FERC’s decision this week gives Williams two more years, until May 3, 2023, to keep NESE alive and find ways to secure the state approvals.

It is unclear how Williams will convince the two states to approve its project. Last year, both states said in their rejection letters that no compelling public need for the pipeline had been demonstrated.

A Williams spokesperson said the company intends to refile for state permits in New Jersey and New York this year.

While misleading readers by claiming that “New Jersey and New York both rejected necessary permits”, the media also is diverting focus to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), instead of on NJ DEP and US EPA where it belongs.

The critical State regulatory decision a State regulatory power that is not federally preempted and the only thing that can really kill the pipeline – is State denial of the Clean Water  Act’s Section 401 “Water Quality Certification” (WQC) (and related State Coastal Zone Management Act approval, which NJ DEP regulations link to the same regulations on the WQC. So I use these 2 approvals interchangeably).

The basis for permit denial by both NY and NJ noted in the NJ.com story – obviously fed to the NJ.com reporter by Green sycophants – i.e. the “no compelling public need for the pipeline had been demonstrated” – is clearly federally pre-empted and can not withstand legal challenge. (and NJ DEP only made that finding because NY DEC had already denied the WQC and thus DEP claimed the application was moot).

NY State DEC denied the WQC on the merits. NY DEC also based their denial on climate issues.

The NJ DEP did not.

Basically, NJ is relying on New York’s real and enforceable denial of the WQC. I explain that in detail in this post, with excerpts and links to the NY and NJ permit decision documents:

Giving Murphy & DEP credit for this is totally misguided. A focus on FERC is a diversion. And that is exactly Ed Potasnak’s (NJLCV) role.

Incredibly, even the NJ groups that are mis-focused on and criticizing FERC, know that FERC’s role and approvals are irrelevant, if the States deny the WQC.

Here is an excerpt of a May 20, 2021 press release issued by Clean Ocean Action that documents that: (emphasis mine)

Today, FERC Commissioner Rich Glick tweeted, “Today’s #Transco Order does not change the state of play. If NY&NJ do not change their minds & grant the project section 401 water quality certificates, @FERC cannot permit the enhancement project to proceed.” 

So the latest NJ.com story is totally wrong – FERC’s 2 year extension is irrelevant – or as even FERC admits “does not change the state of play”.

I suspect that the FERC 2 year extension is designed to keep the door open in the event that the Biden EPA does not repeal a Trump EPA regulation stripping state power, or if Congress enacts pending legislation to strip states of WQC power, or if federal courts rule against these State powers (or if the Biden Justice Department settles the lawsuits).

The power of States to kill pipelines by using this Clean Water Act power is extremely controversial and under attack.

As far as I know, the Democrats in Congress have not used their power under the Congressional Review Act to kill the Trump EPA WQC stripping rule. See this WaPo story:

EPA adopted the final rule on June 1, 2020.

It does not look like the Biden Executive Order on Trump regulations specifically directed EPA to repeal that horrible final Trump EPA rule see: Sec. 7.  Other Revocations. Or it may be implicit in other sections of the Order, perhaps the litigation provisions. I don’t know.

I also have not reviewed the Trump EPA rule in detail and don’t know how it will impact State WQC power. I don’t know if State power to consider climate change – like NY did – will stand challenge by the gas industry. But I do know that these issues are very important and that they are being virtually ignored by NJ media.

Instead of attacking FERC – on misleading grounds and for the umpteenth time  – why aren’t pipeline foes publicly demanding that the Biden EPA repeal this Trump rule that stripped (or limited) States of the only power they had to kill pipelines?

The Biden administration has already backed the gas industry in litigation before the US Supreme Court, see:

Why are pipeline foes ignoring this betrayal?

These are the real issues at the federal level.

But they are being ignored by media and the green crowd, who refuse to make aggressive demands of Biden EPA.

As long as the media and NJ groups continue to focus on FERC, ignore EPA, and flat out lie about DEP’s “denial” of permits, Gov. Murphy and DEP get a pass and we miss opportunities to organize and pressure Murphy and DEP for a real pipeline kill.

This false praise and diversion to FERC is especially damaging, because, as the pipeline comply Williams stated:

A Williams spokesperson said the company intends to refile for state permits in New Jersey and New York this year.

That means that activists should be organizing and building public pressure on Gov. Murphy to deny the WQC when the company reapplies for DEP permits. The refiled permits will come in under a Trump EPA rule that stripped state power, so even stronger State leadership will be required.

Climate and anti-pipeline activists could be focused on the same issue at other NJ pipelines pending DEP approvals, including the PennEast pipeline.

Instead, they are wasting time criticizing FERC, advancing a lie about the real basis for the DEP “permit denial”, and providing false praise of Murphy’s DEP. This destroys their ability to organize around that issue.

Because if people believe that DEP already denied the WQC, then the Williams company has a free pass to work on DEP behind the scene to seek WQC approval. And they will be coming in under new federal EPA regulations that limit state power.

That is a very dangerous strategy that relies completely on NY DEC and Gov. Cuomo to hold the line.

It lets Biden EPA off the hook – they should be repealing the Trump EPA rule. The Biden Executive Order on Trump regulatory review could include that, but I’m not positive. Regardless, that Order could be used to pressure the Biden EPA to repeal the Trump rule.

It also opens the door for Murphy to point fingers and escape accountability in the event that the pipeline ultimately is approved. Because if he already killed NJ DEP permits, he’ll be able to blame NY or some other federal issue (like Trump EPA pre-emption, or FERC, or a federal lawsuit, like they are doing right now on the PennEast pipeline).

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