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Application Submitted for PennEast Pipeline to Proceed With Construction

An application to construct a 118-mile pipeline that will carry natural gas between Pennsylvania and New Jersey was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in September by PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC (FERC Docket #CP15-558) The proposed pipeline would transport gas from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, to other pipelines near Trenton, New Jersey.

An interactive map of the proposed route is available online from PennEast Pipeline. Because the pipeline, which will transport Marcellus Shale gas, will serve two states, the federal government maintains regulatory authority over its construction. The pipeline will be 36 inches in diameter and run underground. According to a PennEast Pipeline Company news release, the pipeline is expected to deliver approximately 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. If approved, construction could begin in 2017.

The PennEast Pipeline Company, headquartered in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, is comprised of several pipeline and energy companies, including PSEG Power LLC, SJI Midstream, Spectra Energy Partners, AGL Resources, NJR Pipeline Company, and UGI Energy Services. UGI serves as the project manager for the effort and would be the operator of the pipeline once it is completed. The project is publicly supported by organizations such as the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, and the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association.

A study by Econsult Solutions and Drexel University concluded that construction of the pipeline would result in approximately $890 million in direct expenditures and approximately $730 million in indirect and induced economic impacts (a total of approximately $1.62 billion in overall economic impact). According to that study, construction of the pipeline is expected to support more than 12,000 jobs. The same study projected annual recurring economic impacts of approximately $23 million, including support for approximately 98 jobs.

Another study, by Concentric Energy Advisors, examined the theoretical effect of the proposed pipeline if it had been in service during the winter of 2013/2014. This period was selected because the cost of natural gas reached record pricing and was extremely volatile. The study concluded that if an additional 1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas had been available at the time, ratepayers in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey could have saved $893 million.

Opposition to the pipeline alleges that its construction will not reduce the cost of energy because it is believed the natural gas will be exported instead of used domestically and the plan to cut through 4,000 acres of preserved open space and farmland is being questioned. According to NPR’s StateImpact, in some cases local landowners may be asked to lease their property to house the pipeline underground. In many cases, these landowners have not yet granted access to surveyors. According to the New Jersey Sierra Club, the project crosses 88 waterways, 44 wetlands, 33 farms, and the Delaware River. The Concerned Citizens Against the Pipeline documents more than 25 municipalities, townships, or counties where resolutions in opposition to the pipeline have been introduced.

Approximately 1,440 people or organizations have registered as interveners with the FERC. Registration provides the opportunity to present evidence for or against the pipeline and provides standing to appeal the FERC’s decision in federal court. Public comments to date about the PennEast pipeline are made available online by the FERC. An additional opportunity for public comment will occur once a draft Environmental Impact Statement is completed.

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