The Tennessee Pipeline Project and Environmental Balance

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) Company is a subsidiary of El Paso Corporation. TGP has proposed the development of a 40-mile natural gas pipeline to (FERC) Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in order to provide sustainable power for energy consumers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the Northeast Region of the United States. In New Jersey, the pipeline will cross Sussex and Passaic Counties. Natural gas is put into the pipeline and the gas is transported underground to residential, commercial or industrial customers.

The Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University recently undertook a study, the Economic Analysis of the Northeast Upgrade Project in New Jersey and Pennsylvania (March, 2011) that showed the $341 million project will generate 1,795 job years (equivalent to one full-time job lasting 1 year); $74.5 million in income for local labor, $101.5 million in gross domestic product and more than $65 million in federal, state and local taxes. In New Jersey, job creation will be across several industries including construction, manufacturing, wholesale, transportation, and public utilities, retail trade, and services. The project is clearly needed to meet the economic demand, but what about environmental concerns?

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline will be constructed through environmentally sensitive lands in Pennsylvania and the Highlands Region of New Jersey. Federal and state environmental agencies have required El Paso Corporation to conduct environmental impact studies which indicate that there will be significant impacts to surface and ground water, wetlands and natural resources, including threatened and endangered species. The company is required to mitigate for these impacts and has proposed returning the “right-of-way” to its original condition by replanting, reseeding and regarding so that natural resources can continue to thrive. In addition, TGP will have to provide compensation (replacement lands) or compensatory mitigation for any impacts to wetlands and natural resources. At ERG, we believe that compensatory mitigation for wetland disturbance – like ERG’s Oxford Wetland Mitigation Bank – can be the bridge between sustaining a robust environment and necessary energy infrastructure needs for our nation.

If carried out with a committment to the concept of no let loss of wetlands, this project will show that economic development and environmental protection can co-exist for the benefit of New Jersey and Pennsylvania residents.

Let ERG know your thoughts.

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