Federal officials on Thursday issued a key permit for the development of natural gas compressor stations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to benefit customers in New York state.
The authorization granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was the last federal-level permit required by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline company for its pending East 300 Upgrade project.
Designed to feed new connections in Westchester County, New York, for regional energy company Consolidated Edison, the $246 million East 300 Upgrade project includes the construction of a new 19,000-horsepower turbine in West Milford and the expansion of two existing compressor stations in Pennsylvania and Sussex County. The latter, tucked in a tony Wantage subdivision, is set to get a new 20,500-horsepower gas-fired compressor unit.
Opponents, such as officials from the environmental nonprofit Food & Water Watch, contested the project as unbefitting New York and New Jersey government plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Allison Orsi, a Wantage resident, said she feels the project threatens the ecosystem, her health and her community.
"We need to keep fossil fuels in the earth, so they don't exacerbate climate change," she said. "We need to stop this expansion."
Officials from both the pipeline company and ConEd have asserted that the project is needed to meet rising gas demand in existing service territories. Pipeline representatives have also said the project could offset emissions by converting existing users of home heating oil to natural gas.
A public hearing regarding the project's pending clean air permit from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is expected later this spring. The permit is one of the few remaining obstacles preventing the construction of the compressor station in West Milford. The facility is expected to be at the former quarry currently home to a mulch yard and within close proximity to the pipeline where it snakes under the Monksville Reservoir.
The project was initially expected to start construction last month. Challenges, including an appeal to a Highlands Act exemption that reached the state Supreme Court, have accompanied the delay.
David Zimmer is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Natural gas compressors allowed in New Jersey, Pennsylvania