NESE Still Lives in the Deep Waters of NJ and NY Politics
Jim Willis on NGL Pipelines
Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)
[Editor’s Note: NESE, the pipeline, not the monster, is still alive but trapped below the deep waters of New Jersey and New York politics, which subservient to elitist causes.]
It’s time to catch up on a project we haven’t written about in some time. In March 2017, Williams filed a full, official application for the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Project (see Williams Files with FERC to Expand Transco Pipeline to NYC, NE). NESE is meant to increase pipeline capacity and flows heading into northeastern markets. Both New York and New Jersey, where portions of the project would be built, have pushed back against the project, causing Williams to seek time extensions with FERC. The most recent time extension expired in May. Williams has asked FERC for another three years, until May 3, 2025, to get the NESE project built.
The $926 million NESE project was designed to increase Transco pipeline capacity and flows heading into New York City and other northeastern markets. In particular, Williams wants to provide more Marcellus natural gas to utility giant National Grid whose territory covers all of Long Island, including parts of NYC located on Long Island (Queens and Brooklyn).
There are a number of components to NESE, but the key component, the heart of the project, is a new 23-mile pipeline from the shore of New Jersey into (on the bottom of) the Raritan Bay–running parallel to the existing Transco pipeline–before connecting to the Transco pipeline offshore. Most of the pipeline would be located underwater.
Williams asked FERC in March 2021 for extra time to build NESE, to give the company time to convince both New York and New Jersey the pipeline is needed and not a danger to the environment. Williams’ request in 2021 sent anti-drilling zealots into a tailspin, in some cases causing heads to explode (see Williams’ FERC Request for More Time re NESE Causing Exploded Heads).
FERC granted Williams’ request, giving the project until May 2023 to finish. And that’s where we lost track of this project. We now have new news to share, to bring you up to speed on the latest developments.
Just over one month ago, on April 27, Williams requested another time extension from FERC–until May 3, 2025.
FERC issued a notice on May 4, 2023, establishing a 15-calendar day intervention and comment period–until May 19, 2023. The comment period allows anti-fossil fuel nutters to bleat and blat about the project (we should charge them for therapy). After May 19, too bad, so sad–comments will go into a black hole.
One of the commenting parties that railed against the project, encouraging FERC to reject a time extension, are the liberals from South Brunswick, NJ, who claim that building the project will kill innocent little fishies and crabs. (Of course, those same people have zero problems eating the same fishies and crabs.)
The following left-leaning story about South Brunswick’s objections to NESE is what caused us to re-research the latest news on this critically-needed project:
The South Brunswick Town Council recently adopted a resolution urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to deny all permits for the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Project.
The NESE is a major gas pipeline project by Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company LLC (Transco) that would transport natural gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey, traveling underwater in the Raritan Bay and Lower New York Bay to approximately three miles offshore of the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens Borough.
Transco is proposing a 26-inch diameter pipeline, compressor station, and infiltration basin in neighboring Franklin Township, Old Bridge, Sayreville and Raritan Bay.
South Brunswick officials said the proposed NESE pipeline would have severe negative impacts to Raritan Bay such as discharging 690,000 gallons of drilling fluid and chemicals and re-suspending over 1,090,000 tons of toxic sediment. This would destroy over 1,000 acres of benthic habitat that houses marine fish, shellfish, and larvae.
Other state agencies too have expressed their concern over the health risks and environmental impacts of the projects.
“Transco has taken no action in almost three years to address the environmental, health, safety, and other concerns raised by the Township Council of the Township of South Brunswick and many other governing jurisdictions including the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP),” according to the resolution.
On May 15, 2020, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation denied the application, effectively blocking construction on the project. At the same time, the NJDEP released a statement saying the NESE Project does not comply with the Freshwater Wetland Protection Act, and denied the project required certificates.
However, they received a two-year extension from FERC in 2021, which is slated to expire in May. Transco’s has now submitted an application seeking an “Extension of Time” to May 3, 2025 for the proposed project.
According to South Brunswick, “increased gas flow and velocity from the proposed compressor station and new pipes into aging pipes could stress the safety dynamics of New Jersey’s aging pipeline system. Rupture and explosion of pipelines occur regularly with catastrophic damage to people, wildlife and property. Furthermore, interstate pipelines are not built to New Jersey’s higher safety standards for in-state lines.”
The township said that the compressor stations planned in Franklin Township would negatively affect the quality of the air and are a safety risk.
“Compressor stations are subject to regular planned as well as emergency “blowdowns” that release methane and methyl mercaptan into the air, as well as high temperature exhaust which contains carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, benzene and toluene. They are a potent source of ground-level ozone production. Plumes of toxic gas can travel for 10 miles or more. In addition, compressor stations have experienced a number of fires and explosions,” the resolution said.
The township said it opposes any extension of time to the project, and asked the FERC to deny the application.*
We’ll keep an eye out for whether or not FERC grants NESE another three-year extension. An announcement should come any day now.
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