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N.J. Sierra Club: New Energy Hub Means More Pipelines and More Pollution for South Jersey

(November 29, 2016)--Senate President Steve Sweeney has come out with a plan for an “energy hub” in the Philadelphia/South Jersey region that will bring more pipelines, air pollution, and environmental problems for surrounding areas.

The plan was announced today at the Greater Philadelphia Energy Action Team’s “South Jersey Road Show” where the Senator was a Keynote speaker. We are very concerned with this proposal because it will move the region backwards by re-opening old refineries, opening new liquefied natural gas ports, and dangerous pipelines instead of moving forward with clean renewable energy like wind.

“Senator Sweeney’s plan for an Energy Hub in South Jersey will mean the proliferation of pipelines, dirty fuels, air pollution and dangerous and damaging chemical and fuel storage facilities. Instead of moving forward with clean energy, this plan will move South Jersey backwards into the fossil foolishness of the past. All this Energy Hub will mean is more pipelines cutting through environmental sensitive areas putting people and the communities at risk. This plan will re-open refineries that have already closed in the region bringing in oil, natural gas, and hazardous liquid from about a dozen proposed pipelines in the Philadelphia and South Jersey. It will also increase dangerous oil bomb trains as well as chemical plants and export facilities,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Originally Senator Sweeney called for South Jersey to become a Clean Energy Hub. This included creating offshore wind port facilities that would bring in manufacturing jobs throughout the region. What we will see with this proposal is toxic sites coming back, which is the opposite of revitalizing our waterfront areas. While areas along the Delaware River are finally being cleaned up, this proposal will actually hurt the economy and environment by chasing clean industries away.”

 

This Energy Hub is one of many potential projects including an eventual port, giant underground storage tanks, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility, in a close proximity to neighborhoods and communities on the Delaware River. The in Greenwich Twp. Planning Board approved the initial proposal for the first warehouse facility in July after trying to cover the fact that it would eventually become a massive LNG export facility.  Under the company’s filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, they state “We have initially identified 196 acres of Repauno as developable, and we intend to utilize the existing infrastructure for our development plans, including…bulk storage and a liquid natural gas facility.”

 

“The LNG facility proposed on the Delaware River is just one of the many dangerous and damaging projects that could come from the Energy Hub. This project will transport hazardous materials through communities and ship them on the Delaware River. It will have major safety implications for people living near the River, while threatening our public health and the environment. This project not only includes shipping hazardous materials and bringing them through the community, but storing 8 million gallons of hazardous materials on site in an underground storage tank. This site is a disaster waiting to happen and must be stopped,” said Jeff Tittel. “There will be thousands of people within the blast zone if there was a spill or explosion from this LNG Export site. People will actually be living 200 ft. from this dangerous facility at all times. Toxins can also leach into the ground from the underground tank causing long-lasting environmental harm.”

 

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is non-conventional compressed natural gas that is volatile. These export facilities would present serious environmental and public health and safety challenges. If there was a major disaster or accident with this port it could have be catastrophic. At these export facilities, millions of gallons of “liquid bulk material” risks contaminating the Delaware River and nearby communities. The transportation and storage of these potentially hazardous materials with the chance of an accident or spill. If just one truck were to spill toxins, it could have a disastrous impact on nearby neighborhoods and water resources in the area. These facilities would bring in natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania, increasing pipelines. 

 

“With the proliferation of dirty infrastructure projects, we will see more pipelines cutting through communities, environmentally sensitive areas and wetlands. We will see more truck traffic and trains carrying highly flammable or toxic materials. The LNG facility proposed on the Delaware River already plans to transport the gas using the extensive existing rail system here. With this proposal, the community will see increased traffic 7 days out of the week. When tankers come in, bridges on the River will have to be closed, because this project threatens public safety. Oil bomb trains will also increase if new refineries are built, which are a ticking time bomb on our rails,” said Jeff Tittel. “Communities nearby these facilities will also see more pipelines bringing these materials through the community, which are prone to spills and explosions. The region already has damaging and dangerous projects like the Sunoco Mariner East and Columbia Gas pipeline being proposed, but there will be an influx in trying to push these pipelines through.”

 

Instead of pipelines and dirty fuels, we need to rebuild our ports for offshore wind, with new factories, manufacturing the steel for the turbines, and assembling and transporting the windmills. An offshore wind hub, like the one Sweeney originally proposed in West Deptford would help boost local economies, while creating long-term green jobs. New Jersey has clearly fallen behind, but we desperately need renewable energy to reduce pollution and deal with sea level rise and climate change impacts. 

 

“South Jersey should be looking at offshore wind and solar for the new energy hub of the 21st century. Instead, this proposal will hook us onto dirty fossil fuels for the next one hundred years with new pipelines, refineries and dangerous export facilities. These projects will threaten public health and safety of our communities, while increasing climate change impacts. The biggest jobs from this project will be from first responders and emergency personal because of the accidents,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This Energy Hub is will be environmentally damaging, risk public safety, and is unnecessary given the potential for clean energy. There are billions of dollars in private investment waiting to come into New Jersey as well as state tax credits just sitting there and a port sitting empty because the Christie Administration has blocked offshore wind. This has clearly hurt our economy and preventing green jobs and clean energy from being a reality.”

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