PennEast pipeline put on hold by developers



Co-written with Maggie Valachovic (Legal Intern, NRDC)

Developers of the PennEast Pipeline, a fractured gas pipeline project that threatens one of the last great free-flowing rivers in the United States and a source of drinking water for 13 million people, have suspended the pipeline. On September 23, 2021, developers PennEast Pipeline Company announced that they were suspending plans to move the pipeline forward due to difficulties in acquiring the necessary land rights in New Jersey. The proposed pipeline is intended to transport approximately 1 billion cubic feet of fracking gas from northeastern Pennsylvania to Mercer County, New Jersey each day, polluting the waters of the Delaware River, harming wildlife which depends on the river for survival and accelerates the climate. crisis.

A wide variety of stakeholders worked to stop the pipeline, including environmental groups like the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the NJ Sierra Club, the NRDC and many more; lawmakers representing those who would be affected by the pipeline, such as Congressman Tom Malinowski from New Jersey’s 7e District; and even the state of New Jersey, one of the states the pipeline would cross if built. The decision to halt pipeline development follows a lengthy dispute between PennEast Pipeline Company and New Jersey over whether the company could seek a court order to order the state to grant access to the lands of the ‘State for the construction of the pipeline; the United States Supreme Court ruled on the case earlier this year.

Photo courtesy of Jim Lukach, Flickr

The break on PennEast, while not necessarily permanent, is great short-term news for the Delaware River Basin, a pristine and invaluable resource in our region. This watershed serves as critical habitat for over 400 types of birds and over 90 species of fish, and construction of the pipeline would endanger the habitats of six federally listed threatened and endangered species, including the marsh turtle, the rust-spotted bumblebee and two species of bats. In addition, more than 13 million people, including residents of New York and Philadelphia, depend on the basin for drinking water. And hundreds of thousands of people rely on it every year for boating, hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, bird watching, and sightseeing. The Delaware River has been designated a site of cultural, ecological, geological, recreational and scenic significance under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Pollution from the construction of the pipeline would also jeopardize the 600,000 jobs in the coastal, eco-tourism, recreation and water industries, which account for more than $ 10 billion in annual wages.

The decision to suspend the pipeline reflects what we already know: that the PennEast Pipeline has no place in the Delaware River Basin or anywhere else. Once operational, the pipeline would exacerbate the climate crisis, introducing nearly 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year – the equivalent of the carbon dioxide emitted by all cars in Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston combined. . In addition, the pipeline would perpetuate our dependence on fossil fuels at a time when we must prioritize the transition to clean energy to protect the future of our planet. In fact, bringing more natural gas to market directly contradicts the climate targets set by some of the Delaware Basin states, including New York.

The PennEast pipeline has been put on hold, but that may not be the end of its story; its developer has declared its intention to resume work on the project once it clears regulatory hurdles. However, the governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware can shut down the PennEast pipeline once and for all. These four governors are members of the Delaware River Basin Commission, which can block any project that has a “substantial effect” on water quality in the basin. These governors can take a stand for our water, our communities and our climate by voting to permanently block the PennEast pipeline.

If you live in one of the basin states (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Delaware), you can also take action to protect the valuable natural resources of the Delaware River Basin. Contact your governor to urge him to protect our planet and vote against the PennEast pipeline.

  • Contact Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York here.
  • Contact Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey here.
  • Contact Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania here.
  • Contact Governor John Carney of Delaware here.

This blog provides general information, not legal advice. If you need legal help, please consult a lawyer in your state.


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