PENNSYLVANIA & NEW JERSEY — The New Jersey Sierra Club joined several local environmental and citizen groups and filed a challenge in federal court of the National Park Service’s (NPS) approval of the Susquehanna-Roseland Transmission line.
The two companies that are constructing the line are PPL Corporation (PPL) in Pennsylvania and Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSEG) in New Jersey.
“This unnecessary project was inappropriately rubber stamped by the NPS despite causing irreparable harm to the eighth most visited park in the national park system,” said Jeff Tittle, director of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club and other groups, represented by the Eastern Environmental Law Center and Earthjustice, are turning to the courts to protect public land from the project. The complaint was filed in the DC District Court by 10 other organizations.
“This is one of the biggest violations by the National Park Service of their mission to protect our parks since Glen Canyon 50 years ago or the Hetch Hetchy Valley 100 years ago,” Tittle said. “Approving the Susquehanna-Roseland project is even worse because this project is for dirty coal power. If they can do it in here, Yellowstone or Yosemite could be next.”
The move by NPS is especially ironic since the park service has been adamant in refusing a similar project to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s (TGP) 300 Line Project through the same park. The 300 Line Project adds seven loops of pipe to the main system totalling approximately 125 miles of 30-inch pipe.
The groups are challenging the NPS approval as the environmental review of the line under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) found the project would cause $89 million in damage to the park. “The park service is taking $56 million in compensation from PPL and PSEG, but you cannot mitigate damages to our national parks, which are supposed to be preserved for future generations,” Tittle said.
The groups are also challenging the lack of robust alternatives review by NPS. Non-transmission alternatives could obviate the need for the Susquehanna-Roseland line. Non-transmission alternatives are programs and technologies that complement and improve operation of existing transmission systems that individually or in combination defer or eliminate the need for upgrades to the transmission system, he said.
“The worst part about this destruction of our public lands is that it is for a project that serves no purpose,” said Kate Millsap, conservation program coordinator for the Sierra Club of New Jersey. “We were told that without the power line in service by 2012 that there would be rolling brown outs and black outs, but this summer we were able to handle peak loads without these problems. We need the court to overturn the NPS approvals and demand that they look at non-transmission alternatives to the project as part of the environmental review process.”