Delaware River Basin Commission to review proposed PennEast pipeline

The Delaware River Basin Commission will review plans for a proposed natural gas pipeline that would pass beneath the river on its way to New jersey.

The proposed PennEast pipeline would cut under the Delaware River at Riegelsville, Bucks County, to bring natural gas from the Pennsylvania to heat homes and supply power plants in New Jersey.

The river crossing does not automatically trigger a DRBC review.   What gives the commission is say is that the pipeline’s path would cross reservoirs and state parks that are covered by the DRBC’s comprehensive plan,  according to spokesman Clarke Rupert.

Rupert said DRBC staff may also examine how much water the pipeline developers may need to draw from the river or discharge into it.

Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum is among the environmentalists opposing the pipeline. She is concerned about the roughly 60 creeks and streams that are in the project’s proposed path.

“We’re going to want the Delware River Basin Commission to look at the cumulative impacts to all of the waterways that are going to be crossed,” she said.

The pipeline has also stirred opposition in southern New Jersey, where it would cut through wetlands and preserved farmland.

The scope of the DRBC’s review will not be clear until PennEast formally submits an application to the commission within 90 days.

Spokeswoman Patricia Kornick said the company has already started meeting with the DRBC about the project.

The pipeline will also be subject to approvals from 20 other federal and state agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

No gas drilling is going on right now in the Delaware River basin, because the five-member commission has not been able to agree on rules to govern it.   The commission has representatives from two states that so far have supported drilling — Pennsylvania and New Jersey — while Delaware is opposed and New York hesitant.  The fifth member, the federal government, has never acted to break the stalemate.

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