The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced Thursday that its initial review of the Tennessee Gas “East 300 Upgrade” expansion found the project would result in a significant environmental impact, and ordered the company to complete a more comprehensive environmental impact statement (EIS). The FERC order stated that EIS “will assist the Commission in its consideration of the Project’s contribution to climate change and its decision-making process to determine whether Tennessee’s proposed Project is in the public convenience and necessity.”
The East 300 project would include the construction of two new fracked gas compressor stations in NJ: one in Wantage Township that would more than triple the size of the existing facility there, and one in West Milford at the site of a former quarry adjacent to the Monksville Reservoir.
The FERC move comes amidst growing pressure on the agency to consider the climate impacts of fossil fuel infrastructure projects across the country. Food & Water Watch is leading a lawsuit in a D.C. Circuit court that seeks to require the agency to meaningfully consider the ‘downstream’ greenhouse gas emissions of pipeline projects.
In response to the news, Food & Water Watch New Jersey State Director Matt Smith issued the following statement:
“This decision vindicates the growing coalition of local elected officials, residents and advocates who have been organizing and sounding the alarm about this dirty, dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuel expansion project. It’s also an important sign of the growing power that front line communities across the country have built to expose the fracking industry myth that ‘natural’ gas is somehow a bridge fuel when in fact it’s a gangplank to climate collapse.”
“While this decision will not stop the project in and of itself, it does create a significant delay for TN Gas. In addition to federal permits, the company still needs several approvals from Governor Murphy’s DEP, including one that would exempt the project from the Highlands Act, legislation that was passed to protect clean and affordable drinking water for Millions.”
“FERC’s decision could also be a real sign that things are finally changing at a regulatory agency that has too often acted as a rubber stamp for fossil fuel polluters. We know we have the law on our side, but more important than that is the growing grassroots pressure to stop new dirty energy projects from being built from coast to coast.
“While the federal government’s intervention is welcome, the key decisions on the Tennessee Gas expansion still belong to the Murphy administration. The governor has pledged to make the fight against climate change a priority; he can’t do that if he is approving new fossil fuel projects that undermine the transition to clean energy while threatening our air and our water. Governor Murphy must stop the Tennessee Gas expansion scheme.”