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In Your Opinion: FERC’s Decision To Extend NESE Pipeline Certificate Is Bad For Franklin Township

By Ed Potosnak.

I am furious about the recent decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to approve Williams Transco’s request for an extension of a certificate to build the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline. As those of us who live in Franklin know, our community would get all of the risk without any reward.  The new pipeline would bring dirty fracked methane gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey to New York.

It would also bring a new 32,000-horsepower methane powered compressor station to Franklin Township that would spew tons of dangerous emissions into the air, affecting our communities. Imagine a new major source of pollution right next to the New Jersey Buddhist Vihara and Meditation Center with the largest outdoor Samadhi Buddha statue in the Western Hemisphere!

Neither my Franklin Township neighbors, fellow New Jerseyans, nor I need the damage to our water and lungs that would come from the NESE pipeline. We already face a legacy of pollution from active mining at Trap Rock Quarry and the Superfund site at Higgins Farm.

All of us who worked so hard opposing the previous application and our community celebrated last year when the Murphy Administration’s Department of Environmental Protection rejected Williams Transco’s request to move forward with the NESE pipeline project because it did not meet New Jersey’s requirements to protect our drinking water and environment.

However, William Transco won’t take NO for an answer. The company recently asked FERC to extend a certificate that the agency had granted prior to New Jersey’s rejection. This means Williams Transco is trying to keep its dirty NESE project alive.

NESE isn’t needed, New York and New Jersey don’t want it, and it poses a threat to clean water, wildlife, and the safety and health of the residents of Franklin Township and New Jersey communities.

Energy experts agree that moving forward with the NESE is a bad idea. Last year, the Eastern Environmental Law Center released an expert report by Synapse Energy Economics showing that the NESE project isn’t necessary. In fact, National Grid, the company that would use the pipeline, stated in its Natural Gas Long-Term Capacity Supplemental Report that other alternatives – including enhancements to existing infrastructure combined with incremental energy efficiency – would be more than sufficient to achieve New York’s energy needs.

FERC should have respected New Jersey’s permit authority and denied the NESE permit extension request. In the past, FERC has liberally granted permit extensions creating what has come to be called ‘zombie pipelines’ – projects that companies continue to try to build even after they’ve failed to meet the public health and environmental legal requirements – and it looks like history is repeating itself.

For five years, communities from Somerset and Middlesex Counties to the Raritan Bay Shore, and inland as far as Princeton, worked together and passed resolutions opposing the project. I was especially grateful because I would live closer to the compressor station than my nearest grocery store. 

I worked to have Senator Cory Booker, Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman and Frank Pallone, State Senator Bob Smith, and Assemblymen Joe Danielsen, Joseph Egan and Andrew Zwicker raise concerns to FERC about the proposed NESE Project.

Additionally, I worked to build massive public opposition from citizens and elected officials throughout the state including the town councils in Franklin Township, South Brunswick, Montgomery, and Princeton, the Somerset County Board of Commissioners, as well as the Board of Education, where I am a member, here in Franklin Township.

I am committed to continuing this fight.  Franklin, we must not let down our guard. We beat it back twice, and I am hopeful together we will be successful again.


Ed Potosnak is a member of the Franklin Township Board of Education, Member of the Franklin Township Task Force Opposing the NESE Compressor Station, and Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.

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