October 14, 2022

Conservation Organizations Urge DEP to Deny Transco Water Permits for Transco’s Proposed Gas Pipeline Expansion in Exceptional Value Waters

(October 14, 2022) - Local, regional, and state environmental groups submitted 28 pages of comments to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on Wednesday, calling on DEP to deny the water crossing and earthmoving permit applications for the Transcontinental Gas and Pipeline Company’s (Transco) Regional Energy Access Expansion (REAE)  gas pipeline expansion. The comments highlight multiple deficiencies and errors included in Transco’s Chapter 102 and Chapter 105 permit applications, such as not accounting for the needs of water quality and miscounting wetland acreage, among other issues. DEP recently held a public hearing and open comment period on Transco’s permits, with the public comment period ending on October 12th at 5 PM. 

Transco is proposing to construct the REAE methane gas pipeline, which would include 22.3 miles of 30-inch-diameter pipeline in Luzerne County, PA, 13.8 miles of 42-inch-diameter pipeline in Monroe County, PA, a gas-fired, turbine-driven compressor station in Gloucester County, NJ, and several other modifications to existing pipeline and compressor stations. The pipeline would damage 114 Exceptional Value wetlands, 77 bodies of water supporting cold water fisheries, 39 High Quality streams, 2 Exceptional Value streams, 17 Class A Wild Trout Streams, 57 waterbodies with naturally reproducing trout, and 297 acres of forests. As a recent report from Our Pocono Waters states, our rivers and streams provide enormous value — environmental, social, and economic benefits to our communities. 

“If Transco’s applications are approved, it would allow harmful open cuts across sensitive high quality and exceptional value streams and wetlands, destroying riparian buffers and floodplain habitats across the watershed,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and Leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, “We have documented damage from past pipelines using similar crossing and cutting techniques, so we urge the PADEP to deny the application based upon evidence of past harms.”

“The Brodhead Watershed Association raises concerns about water quality and quantity impacts to Chestnuthill Township’s Lake Mineola & Lake Mineola Marsh.  The proposed pipeline will open a trench and cut directly through hydrologically connected Exceptional value (EV) wetlands. Transco indicates that part of this complex will suffer permanent impacts.  Dividing up connected wetland complexes undercuts the intent of wetlands protection and the spirit of the Chapter 105 regulations,” said Alexander Jackson, PhD., Executive Director of the Brodhead Watershed Association.

“REAE is yet another destructive pipeline project designed to line the fracking industry’s pockets at the expense of the integrity of our lands and the quality of our air and water,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director & Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council. “DEP should reject the application for its failure to meet the basic requirements for a safe and well designed project.”

“The waterways that this pipeline will cut across are among the highest quality streams in the Commonwealth and are entitled under the law to the highest protections," said Jessica O’Neill, senior attorney at Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future. “The Department must not allow repeated cuts to these special protection waters, particularly in the service of the fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.” 

To view the joint comments submitted to PADEP, please visit: https://bit.ly/OrgTREAEComments

 View Transco’s application on the PADEP’s Pennsylvania Pipeline Portal.

Jessica O’Neill, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, oneill@pennfuture.org
Maya K. van Rossum, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, keepermaya@delawareriverkeeper.org
Alex Bomstein, Clean Air Council, abomstein@cleanair.org
Alexander Jackson, PhD, Brodhead Watershed Association, alex@brodheadwatershed.org