02-14-2010, 03:54 PM
Moderator / Admistrator
Join Date: Dec 2007
HELP NEEDED: Environmental groups turn to NPS to block N.J. $750M power line pro
Environmental groups turn to National Park Service to block N.J. $750M power line project
By Lawrence Ragonese/The Star-Ledger
February 13, 2010, 3:11PM
Having lost their bid to get the state Board of Public Utilities to reject a major North Jersey power line project, opponents of the Susquehanna-Roseland line are turning their sights this week to the National Park Service.
Environmental groups and other opponents will speak out at three environmental scoping hearings scheduled in Pennsylvania and Morris County, hoping to convince federal officials the proposed towers would cause environmental and aesthetic problems for scenic parklands.
"Do you love the (Delaware) Water Gap? Did you ever want to hike the Appalachian Trail? Here is your chance to speak up and become a champion for the things you care about most, the New Jersey Sierra Club stated in an on-line pitch to members.
Another environmental group, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, sent out an alert: "The proposed power lines include towers twice as tall as the tree line. You will be able to see these eyesores from miles away on the river, on the trail, from the swimming hole, in the car, from your hotel room from everywhere.
The proposed Susquehanna-Roseland project is a 500,000-volt transmission line that will be built on a 146-mile route between Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey. It would bring 500-kilovolt transmission towers along a long-established path of smaller 230-kilovolt towers running through Warren, Sussex and Morris counties, ending in Roseland in Essex County.
The companies behind the project PPL Electric Utilities in Pennsylvania and Public Service Electric & Gas in New Jersey contend the $900 million to $1.2 billion high-voltage project is needed to maintain reliability of the regional electricity grid.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission both approved the project. The state BPU voted 5-0 for the project last week, saying PSE&G convinced the board the project was needed to maintain a reliable power supply for the region.
THE NEXT STEP
Now, the Park Service will prepare an environmental impact statement to research environmental, historical and recreational impacts of a line that would cross the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River, and Appalachian National Scenic Trail in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
That process could take two years about the time PSE&G hoped it would take to nearly complete its tower project federal parks officials said.
"This is the very beginning of the environmental impact statement process, said Amanda Stein, biologist and project manager at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. "We need to analyze all of the comments. . . and dont anticipate providing a report until fall.
The Park Service then must develop alternate routes for consideration, followed by a draft environmental impact statement in 2011, with a final decision not expected until spring of 2012, Stein said.
PSE&G officials noted a transmission line and utility right-of-way already goes through federal park land and said the company would attempt to minimize any impacts. While PSE&G needs federal environmental permits, that would not preclude starting construction in other areas, company spokeswoman Karen Johnson said.
In testimony before the state BPU, utility officials said without new lines they anticipate potential power outages starting in 2012 that could result in brownouts or blackouts and could put the company in violation of federal rules, and facing stiff fines.
But opponents questioned PSE&Gs facts, charging the project will harm the environment, cause illness for residents living near the lines and foster use of "dirty coal-burning power to generate profits for the power company. They also contend that people living close to the electrical towers may have trouble getting housing loans.
Three Park Service hearings are scheduled from this week, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.:
Tuesday at the Fernwood Hotel in Bushkill, Pa.
Wednesday at Camp Jefferson in Jefferson Township.
Thursday at the Sheraton Parsippany Hotel in Parsippany.
N.J. utilities board unanimously approves $750M power line project
N.J. board hears testimony on $750M power line, plans to issue ruling next week
Opponents of $750M power-line project urge residents, Gov. Christie to fight PSE&G plan
Link to original article: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/201...turn_to_n.html