Last year, Transco Williams announced a plan to expand a fracked gas pipeline in central New Jersey, and build a new compressor station to push more gas through its pipelines. It’s exactly the kind of fossil fuel infrastructure project that gets an easy rubber stamp from federal regulators and a green light from Republican Governor Chris Christie. But right from the start, residents from the communities that would be affected sent a message loud and clear: Not here, not now.
The proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement Project includes a 22-mile pipeline in the New York Bay from Middlesex County to Brooklyn, over three miles of additional pipeline in Old Bridge, and a new 32,000 horsepower compressor station in Franklin Township.
When the company held ‘open house’ meetings to unveil its plans in June 2016, local activists turned out in strong numbers to put Transco Williams on notice. Residents pointed out that building more dangerous fracked gas pipelines would impact local public health and safety. The massive new compressor station would produce methane and volatile organic compounds, creating a serious negative impact on local air quality. And the trench construction in the Raritan Bay that would be required to extend the pipeline to Brooklyn would harm marine ecosystems and the commercial and recreational fishing. Local groups like Residents Against Compressor Station 206 were instrumental to building this early opposition.
Local elected officials took notice of the burgeoning movement. With hundreds of residents in attendance, the South Brunswick Township Council passed a resolution in July opposing the compressor station, stating that it "would dramatically affect the quality of life” there. The Franklin Town Council was next; 400 people turned out to a meeting in August to discuss the compressor station, and the council voted to oppose the project.
This massive outpouring of local opposition was not lost on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which ultimately approves these types of infrastructure projects. In September 2016, FERC held “scoping” hearings in central Jersey, a format that amounts to individuals submitting private comments to an official of the agency, instead of a traditional public meeting that would galvanize activists and attract local media attention.
But the grassroots pressure continued nonetheless. We helped organize over 1,000 residents to formally intervene on the project with FERC. And local residents poured into an April 2017 meeting of the Middlesex County Freeholders to push them to file a motion to formally intervene as well. The commissioners agreed to do so, a move that grants the county access to all relevant filings and documents. The Somerset County Freeholders quickly followed suit. Intervening is not the same thing as outright opposition, but it is a sure sign that local activism is producing results.
And the pressure will continue, as residents and and environmental activists put local lawmakers on notice that they do not want the Garden State to become the pipeline state.
Take Action: Stop the Transco Pipeline and Compressor Station!