Coalition, AGs appeal approval of Regional Energy Access Expansion project

Gas industry, gas transport system. Gas pipeline. Gas pipes, stop valves and appliances for gas pumping station

A coalition of environmental organizations are being backed by eight state attorneys general and the New Jersey ratepayer advocate in their appeal of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of a Williams Co. subsidiary’s Regional Energy Access Expansion project, which would expand natural gas compressor stations in Branchburg and Old Bridge and build a new natural gas compressor station in West Deptford, plus 36.1 miles of pipeline in Pennsylvania.

In July, the Niskanen Center filed a joint opening brief on behalf of New Jersey Conservation Foundation, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, Aquashicola Pohopoco Watershed Conservancy and affected landowner Catherine Folio to contest FERC’s decision.

The brief was filed in concert with Earthjustice, representing Food & Water Watch and the Sierra Club.

The New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel has also filed a brief in support of the challenge, and the attorneys general of New Jersey, Washington state, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Vermont filed a joint amici brief to support the challenge to FERC’s flawed authorization of the unneeded project.

The legal briefs underscore the importance of carefully considering the implications of the REAE project and its potential effects on New Jersey’s energy landscape and the health and safety of local communities.

If constructed, the groups said, REAE will undermine New Jersey’s goal of reducing greenhouse gasses 50% by 2030 and would actually lead to a 16% increase in the state’s total greenhouse gas output annually. The project will expand the fossil fuel infrastructure in the Garden State and perpetuate the state’s dependence on dirty energy sources. The project also risks exposing communities already overburdened by the impacts of climate change to a major source of air pollution as well as increased risk of leaks, fires and explosions.

FERC’s decision also ignores an explicit finding from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and ratepayer advocate that New Jersey has sufficient capacity, does not need any additional gas capacity, and that the REAE project is unnecessary and would actually harm New Jersey ratepayers.

“We’re glad to see the New Jersey Ratepayer Advocate and the multiple state attorneys general taking a stand on the REAE dirty fossil fuel project. It’s bad for ratepayers, bad for the climate and bad for the overall health of New Jerseyans,” Allison McLeod, senior policy director, New Jersey LCV, said.

The environmental groups challenging FERC’s approval of the project are urging the D.C. Circuit to conduct a thorough examination of FERC’s flawed authorization of this unneeded project.