ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS URGE GOVERNOR MURPHY TO REJECT WILLIAMS TRANSCO’S REGIONAL ENERGY ACCESS EXPANSION PROJECT (REAE)
TRENTON, NJ: In a recent letter to Governor Phil Murphy and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Commissioner, Shawn LaTourette, a coalition of nearly 40 environmental groups and community organizations pushed for a rejection of Williams Transco’s newest natural gas project, the Regional Energy Access Expansion project (REAE).
REAE proposes the construction and upgrading of natural gas compressor stations in West Deptford, Old Bridge, and Branchburg. It would expand the fossil fuel infrastructure in the Garden State and perpetuate the state’s dependance on dirty energy sources. The project would also expose the communities that are already overburdened by the impacts of climate change to lower air quality as well as increased risk of leaks, fires, and explosions. The REAE project also is at odds with the new Cumulative Impacts law that is designed to tackle the environmental racism that has led to consistent pollution in overburdened communities.
“This project represents an unnecessary health and public safety risk to families and businesses in the communities surrounding the dirty fossil fuel compressors, many of whom have already been forced to bear the brunt of climate change and pollution,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “These unneeded pipelines and compressor stations would also continue our dependence on dirty fossil fuels and slow efforts towards converting to renewable energy, something Governor Murphy has emphasized is a priority.”
“This unneeded fracked gas project imperils high-quality waterways and beautiful landscapes at a time when we should be getting off gas rather than deepening our commitment to it,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel of the Clean Air Council. “The public cannot afford to bear the environmental risks or the risks to public health and safety posed by this pipeline. New Jersey must promptly deny all approvals for the project.”
The REAE project would lead to a projected 18% increase in greenhouse gas emissions for the state, a statistic that is diametrically opposed to New Jersey’s goal of a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030. All of the negative impacts of the proposed expansions become even less appealing when we consider the fact that the natural gas isn’t needed. A recent study commissioned by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) found that the REAE was not necessary for the state’s energy supply, with current gas infrastructure able to meet demand through 2030, even during peak usage in cold winter weather.
“This project would result in massive greenhouse gas emissions and threaten air quality in overburdened communities,” said Tom Gilbert, Co-Executive Director of NJ Conservation Foundation. “It is at odds with New Jersey’s clean energy future and NJBPU’s study showing that there is already more than enough gas capacity to meet peak demand over the next decade. Ratepayers should not be saddled with the cost of this unneeded, polluting project.”
The authors of the letter to the governor agree that this seemingly unnecessary fossil fuel project will bring untenable harm to both the natural environment and citizens of New Jersey, and is a step in the wrong direction when it comes to the future of the state’s energy economy.
“William’s unneeded fossil fuel project will threaten our public health and environment. The pipeline will cut an ugly scar through critical streams, open space and farmland. It will increase more greenhouse gasses and add to climate change. It’s critical that NJDEP consider the disastrous impacts that the REAE project will have and reject it,” said Taylor McFarland, Conservation Program Manager for the Sierra Club, New Jersey Chapter.
Environmental groups celebrated victory in 2020 when Murphy rejected Williams Transco’s proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement Pipeline Project, and they hope to repeat that outcome with REAE.
“Fossil fuel expansion projects like this one represent a clear choice for the Murphy administration. The governor can stand firm on his commitment to climate action and environmental justice, or he can take the side of corporate polluters that have wreaked havoc on our state,” said Kate Delany, New Jersey Senior Political Director for Food and Water Watch. “Transco’s Regional Energy Access Expansion is completely unnecessary, presents real dangers to nearby communities, and would totally undermine Governor Murphy’s clean energy goals. He must reject this outrageous fossil fuel expansion scheme and embrace the clean renewable energy future that New Jersey needs.”
The environmental groups and community organizations opposed to REAE are planning to keep up the pressure with hopes that they can stop the project before it even gets off the ground.