Anti-fracking protestors DC
A common sight at Delaware River Basin Commission meetings: advocates battling the PennEast pipeline. PHOTO BY MEG MCGUIRE

PennEast project canceled

| September 29, 2021

Quietly and without fanfare, PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC announced on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 that it was abandoning its seven-year battle to ship fracked Marcellus Shale gas from Pennsylvania across the Delaware River to New Jersey.

The proposed pipeline’s 116-mile route would have started in Luzerne County, Pa., and run through Carbon, Northampton and Bucks Counties in Pennsylvania, crossing the Delaware south of Riegelsville, Pa., then through Hunterdon and Mercer counties in New Jersey where it would have connected with an existing pipeline in Pennington, N.J.

The announcement was sent to media outlets, but it isn’t on the PennEast website — — but it reads:

Although PennEast received a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from FERC to construct the proposed pipeline and obtained some required permits, PennEast has not received certain permits, including a water quality certification and other wetlands permits under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act for the New Jersey portion of the Project; therefore, the PennEast partners, following extensive evaluation and discussion, recently determined further development of the Project no longer is supported.  Accordingly, PennEast has ceased all further development of the Project.

Opponents were jubilant.

“We knew we would get here eventually, it was just a matter of time,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and staunch opponent of the PennEast Pipeline. “Organizations like the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Berks Gas Truth, Environment New Jersey, New Jersey Sierra Club and Clean Water Action, have been partnering with frontline organizations, community leaders, property owners, and environmental advocates literally since day one.

“We stayed united in our opposition and we won!” she said.

Back in June, the project seemed to be robust when it won United States Supreme Court approval for its bid to acquire land in New Jersey. Story here.  

But, then, in August, came the news that PennEast was ending legal proceedings to secure property easements in Pennsylvania. That decision seemed to hint at problems, though the PennEast spokesperson made it seem that the decision was more of a pause than a cessation. Story here.

Here are a sampling of comments (via a press release from the Delaware Riverkeeper Network) from the people who have been fighting PennEast.

Karen Feridun, Founder of Berks Gas Truth: “It’s about time!”

Liz Magill Peer, Environment Team Lead Indivisible Lambertville New Hope:

“This is truly wonderful news for the communities along the pipeline route who have fought tirelessly for an unneeded project that would not benefit them. My family farm is one of many on the route and we are so happy that it will be protected along with preserved lands and beloved family homes. My gratitude goes out to all who worked tirelessly for this outcome! We still have a lot of work to do in our transition to clean energy solutions but for today so many will sleep well knowing this project has been canceled.”

Sharon Furlong, spokesperson for Bucks Environmental Action: 

“Many people have worked diligently and persistently to make sure this project, beloved by corporations but hated by the people who would have to live with it, would be stopped. Against almost impossible odds, the people prevailed. Now, end all pipelines everywhere.”

And this from Patrick Grenter, Associate Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign, who issued the following statement:

“This is a big win for communities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that value clean air, clean water, and a stable climate. PennEast would have threatened countless sensitive creeks and wetlands, while making us more dependent on fossil fuels at a time when we need to be urgently transitioning to clean energy. Congratulations to community advocates from across the region that fought this destructive project and won.”

Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire has been a journalist for 30 years in New York and Connecticut. She started in weekly newspapers and moved to full-time work in dailies 25 years ago. She knows about the tectonic changes in journalism firsthand, having been part of what was euphemistically called a "reduction in force" six years ago. Now she's working to find new ways to "do" the news as an independent online publisher of news about the Delaware River, its watershed and its people.

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