Plans to build New Jersey’s first liquefied natural gas export terminal took a step back when the developer of the plant, where natural gas will be converted to liquid, agreed not to build it under the current permit.
Bradford County Real Estate Partners said it would not have time to build a plant in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, before the air quality permit expires in July. As part of a lawsuit last week, the company will allow this permit to expire and apply for a new one if it decides to resume the project.
The settlement came after three environmental groups in Pennsylvania challenged a project that would export liquefied natural gas from a new terminal on the Delaware River in Gibstown, Gloucester County, to foreign markets where the price of natural gas is much higher than in the United States.
Gas will be pumped from the rich shale field of Marcellus in northeastern Pennsylvania to the Wyalusing plant. It will then be sent by train or truck about 275 miles to the former DuPont explosives site in Gibstown, where it will be loaded onto ocean-going tankers.
Construction of the dock was approved by the Delaware River Basin Commission, but was postponed from March 15 to September 15 to protect migrating fish, including the endangered Atlantic sturgeon, to comply with permit conditions set by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Other possible delays
The project also faces a possible study of its environmental impact by the federal government if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in its current review decides it has jurisdiction. Any such review will add another delay.
Environmentalists say the project is strongly opposed by environmentalists, who say it will stimulate the production of natural gas, which contributes to global warming, by fracking, exposing residents on the route to catastrophic explosions and exposing residents near the terminal to round-the-clock cargo. movement.
“This is a great victory for the environment and human health, because the liquefaction plant is very polluting and will push new fracking for LNG trains to Gibstown, which will cause more pollution and damage to health,” said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the environmental group. Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
Although the project appears to have been suspended at both ends of the route, it has not been abandoned by New Fortress Energy, the parent group of Bradford County, and Delaware River Partners, which is leading the construction of the Gibstown Terminal.
New Fortress has told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it plans to send liquefied natural gas to Gibstown from the proposed Wyalusing plant or from unspecified “third-party liquefaction facilities.”
The company has not responded to a request for comment regarding the settlement or to determine which third-party facilities it means.
Arguments against the Pennsylvania plant
The construction of the Wyalusing plant would allow more than 1 million tonnes of greenhouse gases and other pollutants to be emitted under the current permit, according to environmental groups – PennFuture, Clean Air Council and Sierra Club – which claimed their case in an environmental hearing, a Pennsylvania court .
The group said the builder of the Wyalusing plant did not start construction there as required by law, so Pennsylvania environmental officials had no reason to extend the permit as required by the company. They also argued that the company would have used “outdated and inappropriate” pollution control technology if the permit had been extended.
In exchange for the company’s consent to the revocation of the permit, environmental groups have said they will suspend their appeal to extend the current air permit issued by the Pennsylvania Department of the Environment.
Proponents hailed the settlement as a step toward reducing greenhouse gases.
“Freck gas is poisoning our communities and exacerbating the climate crisis by spreading pollution and degradation,” said Kelsey Creps of the Sierra Club.
Governor Murphy’s position
Despite the fact that the price of natural gas futures in the US reached its highest level in eight years due to concerns about energy supplies during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, prices in Europe are several times higher.
In New Jersey, environmental officials recently approved a plan to build a railway site in Gibstown to host long “single” trains that will carry liquefied natural gas from Wyalusing. But Delaware River Partners still requires an air permit from the New Jersey Department of the Environment and an agreement with the state under the Toxic Disaster Prevention Act before explosive liquefied natural gas can be delivered to the Gibstown site.
In December 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy voted in the Delaware River Basin Commission to approve the construction of a dock in Gibstown, but later that month said he would do everything in his power as governor to stop liquefied gas supplies through the port.