TRETON, 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 called for the rejection of Williams Transco’s latest natural gas project, the Regional Energy Access Expansion Project (REAE ).

REAE proposes the construction and modernization of natural gas compressor stations at West Deptford, Old Bridge and Branchburg. It would expand the Garden State’s fossil fuel infrastructure and perpetuate the state’s reliance on dirty energy sources. The project would also expose communities already overburdened by the effects of climate change to lower air quality and increased risk of leaks, fires and explosions. The REAE project also runs counter to the new Cumulative Impacts Act, which aims to tackle environmental racism that has led to persistent pollution in overburdened communities.

“This project poses an unnecessary health and safety risk to families and businesses in the communities surrounding the dirty fossil fuel compressors, many of which have already been forced to bear the brunt of climate change and pollution,” he said Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “These unnecessary pipelines and compressor stations would also perpetuate our reliance on dirty fossil fuels and slow efforts to transition to renewable energy, which Gov. Murphy has stressed is a priority.”

“This unnecessary fracked gas project is endangering quality waterways and beautiful landscapes at a time when we should be moving off gas rather than deepening our commitment to it,” he said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel of the Clean Air Council. “The public cannot afford to bear the environmental or public health and safety risks posed by this pipeline. New Jersey must immediately deny all permits for the project.”

The REAE project would result in a projected 18% increase in greenhouse gas emissions for the state, a statistic diametrically opposed to New Jersey’s goal of a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030. All negative effects of the proposed extensions balance out less attractive considering that the natural gas is not 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 because the current gas infrastructure can support demand through 2030, even during peak loads in cold winter weather.

“This project would result in massive greenhouse gas emissions and threaten air quality in congested communities,” he said Tom Gilbert, Co-Executive Director of the NJ Conservation Foundation. “This contradicts New Jersey’s clean energy future and NJBPU’s study, which shows that there is already more than enough gas capacity to meet peak demand over the next decade. Fee payers should not be burdened with the cost of this unnecessary, polluting project.”

The authors of the letter to the Governor agree that this seemingly unnecessary fossil fuel project will cause unsustainable harm to both the natural environment and the citizens of New Jersey and is a step in the wrong direction when it comes to the future of the energy industry of the state goes .

“Williams unnecessary 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 gases and contribute to climate change. It is critical that NJDEP considers the catastrophic impact of the REAE project and opposes it,” he said Taylor McFarland, Conservation Program Manager, 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 replicate that result with REAE.

“Fossil fuel expansion projects like this are a clear choice for the Murphy administration. The governor can stand firm in his commitment to climate protection and environmental justice, or he can side with the corporate polluters that have devastated our state,” he said Kate Delany, Senior Political Director for Food and Water Watch in New Jersey. “Expanding Transco’s regional energy access is entirely unnecessary, poses real threats to nearby communities, and would completely undermine Gov. Murphy’s clean energy goals. He must reject this outrageous fossil fuel expansion program and embrace the future of clean renewable energy that New Jersey needs.”

The environmental groups and community organizations opposed to REAE plan to keep up the pressure in hopes they can stop the project before it even gets underway.

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