NESE Denial Shows Power of Grassroots Unity
The Murphy administration last week rejected permits for the NESE pipeline. The project would have cut across Central Jersey into Raritan Bay, emitting 9 million metric tons per year of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas, exposing local residents to toxic fumes from its compressor and increasing water pollution. Empower NJ is proud of the efforts of the Stop NESE Coalition in helping to deny the project. Empower NJ is a coalition of 80 environmental, citizen, faith, and progressive groups. They include the New Jersey Sierra Club, Green Faith, Food & Water Watch, Indivisibles, Environment NJ, Blue Wave, People Over Pipelines, Clean Water Action, UU Faith Action NJ, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Citizen Action and more. The campaign is calling for Gov. Murphy to place a moratorium on all fossil-fuel infrastructure projects in the state. We are also calling on the governor to provide the DEP and other regulators with the tools needed to meet required reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and prevent increases in ground level ozone. Empower NJ released the following statement:
“The victory over NESE shows how all of us can come together to fight unneeded and damaging fossil fuel projects. We have been working with grassroots groups and the Stop NESE Coalition fighting the NESE pipeline. By creating Empower NJ, we brought together people from all over the state who care about fighting climate change and stopping dirty pipelines and power plants. They help fight local battles as part of a statewide vision. Climate urgency means we can’t just keep fighting project by project. We need to fight all of them together. There’s strength in numbers, and Empower NJ is showing us the power of unity.
“NESE was a victory for the people as well as the environment. We are glad that we were able to play a role in elevating it as a statewide issue. The NJ Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch and other groups have been part of the Stop NESE Coalition which collected 10,000 petition signatures. We helped bring people out for protests. Nearly 500 calls were made to Gov. Murphy in one week opposing NESE. With Moratorium Mondays, hundreds more calls were made. Their fight is our fight. We were one big grassroots family and it worked. We helped convince the Murphy administration to reject pipeline permits for the first time. Empower NJ includes 80 groups from all across the state fighting for the people against damaging projects from Cape May to Vernon. The unity of Empower NJ helped beat NESE, and it will beat other projects as well.
“Defeating the NESE pipeline shows us we can’t just fight against dirty, greenhouse gas emitting, fossil fuel infrastructures project by project and permit by permit. We need to turn these local battles into statewide issues. We need a grand plan to stop fossil-fuel infrastructure and promote renewable energy. That why it is so important for Gov. Murphy to put a moratorium on all fossil-fuel projects in the state. If 8 proposed pipelines and 4 power plants are all built, New Jersey’s greenhouse gas emissions would increase by 32 percent. That will block the governor’s goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2050.
“The denial of the NESE permits is a huge victory. The NESE pipeline is a dangerous, damaging and unnecessary project that would pollute our waterways, increase greenhouse gases and jeopardize public safety. The project would cause irreparable harm from Franklin Township in Central Jersey through the Raritan Bay all the way to Long Island. Construction would disrupt contaminated sediments along the route and in the bay. The compressor station in Franklin Township would release toxic chemicals such as methane, ethane and MTBEs. The station would also produce industrial runoff of metals such as chromium. The project brings no benefits to the people of New Jersey, only more toxic and climate changing emissions and more water pollution.
“This fight isn’t over. We won on NESE, but we need to redouble our efforts to make sure this project, and others, are stopped. Transco is re-applying for permits. They can re-route the pipeline, move the compressor station and adopt dry-dredging techniques in the bay. Transco has already re-applied for permits in New York after Gov. Cuomo rejected them. Empower NJ has shown what unity can accomplish. We need to keep applying that lesson not only to NESE, but the many other pipeline and power plant projects threatening New Jersey.
“We had the power of many working as one to stop NESE. That kind of unity can take us a long way. We need to keep building a broad coalition as we have with Empower NJ. This will help crystallize the statewide battle on climate change and the Clean Energy agenda. In unity there is strength.”