Last week, PennEast announced that it was suspending further development of a 116-mile natural gas pipeline project that would have pumped $1 billion into the regional economy. The pipeline, which was met with strong resistance over several years by activists, was to ship Marcellus Shale gas from Luzerne County, PA, across the Delaware River to Mercer County, New Jersey, to provide what the company said was “much-needed, affordable natural gas” to residents. Utilities in New Jersey have noted to regulators they need additional gas supplies to meet winter demand in future years, and one economic analysis showed PA and NJ residents could have saved millions in energy costs in past years had the project been constructed.
PA Chamber President Gene Barr issued a statement after the announcement, expressing that it signals a major loss for ratepayers, who now lack a reliable source of gas and electricity; for the economy, which is now out of several thousand well-paying construction jobs as the economy continues to struggle; and for the environment, as it will make the mid-Atlantic more reliant on imported fuels from foreign nations that do not have our strict environmental standards.
“The news of this cancellation underscores the importance of state and federal policymakers taking bold strides to make it easier to build things in this country again,” Barr said. “While many of our member companies execute sustainability strategies and are deploying significant capital into zero- and low-carbon resources, renewable energy is not a solution for many industries, and we must afford companies and consumers the option of energy choice. Our economy will not get back on its feet through heavy-handed mandates that raise energy costs and discourage innovation.”
Representatives from PennEast said the decision was made due to a continued lack of support by New Jersey in terms of acquiring environmental permits. The cancellation announcement comes only three months after the U.S. Supreme Court sided with PennEast in a case that focused on New Jersey’s efforts to block the company from starting the project. At that time, our organization, which had filed an amicus brief with the US Chamber in the case, issued a statement saying we were pleased to see the court’s majority rule that energy projects authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must be granted necessary rights-of-way, including on properties held by states like New Jersey, who have repeatedly taken action to burden and disadvantage the energy and manufacturing interests of Pennsylvania.
In last week’s statement, Barr noted that “news of this cancellation underscores the importance of state and federal policymakers taking bold strides to make it easier to build things in this country again.”