One natural gas transport plan killed in New Jersey as another forges ahead

A pipeline that would move natural gas through the state and to N.Y. has been killed. But another plan to transport liquefied gas from Pa. by tanker truck is moving forward.

Taylor McFarland

Taylor McFarland, a project manager with the Sierra Club speaks at a press conference in Keyport N.J., on Monday, May 6, 2024, to celebrate the cancellation of a natural gas pipeline project that would have run through the bay en route to New York City. But a different project to carry liquefied natural gas through Pennsylvania and New Jersey for export to other nations is moving forward. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

A major pipeline that would have moved natural gas through New Jersey and under two bays to New York has been killed, but another plan to transport liquefied gas from Pennsylvania by tanker truck is moving forward.

Environmentalists who had fought both projects reacted Monday to the mixed bag they were handed on Friday when the two proposals took differing pathways with federal regulators.

That was the day that Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams Companies, which owns a nearly 10,000-mile (16,000-kilometer) expanse of pipelines called Transco, allowed its Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline project to end. Williams told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission it was allowing a key construction application to expire, saying it would not seek an extension for it.

The decision heartened a wide group of environmental and community groups who had fought the proposal for eight years, saying it would further the burning of fossil fuels and contribute to climate change, while also degrading air and water quality and creating safety concerns in communities along its route.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, called the development “an extraordinary victory, a David and Goliath moment.”

Using the project’s acronym, she said, “NESE has gasped its last gassy breath. It means the project has died, and we won!”

In a statement to The Associated Press on Monday, Williams confirmed it is no longer pursuing a certificate from the federal agency that would allow it to continue the project.

“While Williams continues to believe in the fundamentals of the Northeast Supply Enhancement project and its ability to provide a cleaner and more affordable alternative to costly heating oil for consumers, at this time, we have decided not to pursue an extension of the certificate,” it said.

It would have included a gas-fired compressor station in Franklin Township, and the installation of more than 23 miles (37 kilometers) of pipeline through the Raritan and Lower New York bays en route to the Rockaway section of Queens in New York City.

Also on Friday, two companies said they remain committed to their proposed project to liquefy natural gas and transport it through Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Delaware River Partners and Bradford County Real Estate Partners told the same agency that they do not intend to cancel a facility in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, to liquefy natural gas and transport it to an export facility in Gibbstown, New Jersey, by tanker truck instead of by rail as originally proposed. Last September, federal regulators suspended authorization to transport liquefied natural gas by rail.

“The last thing we need is even more dangerous methane gas extracted from Pennsylvania, shipped through our communities by truck, and exported overseas,” said Patrick Grenter, a campaign director with the Sierra Club. “This decision is unnecessary and reckless, and the Sierra Club is prepared to continue fighting this project until it is officially canceled.”

The companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

But in a filing to the agency on Friday, Bradford said its Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, facility is designed to not need rail cars, and is “unimpacted” by the federal moratorium on such transport. For that reason, the company is proceeding with its plans, it wrote.

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal