A stalemate over regulations at the Delaware River Basin Commission has prevented natural gas development in the watershed since 2010. But the multi-state commission will now play a role in whether a new Marcellus Shale gas pipeline can move forward.
The proposed PennEast pipeline would cut under the Delaware River at Riegelsville, Bucks County to bring natural gas from the Pennsylvania to heat homes and supply power plants in New Jersey.
That does not automatically trigger a DRBC review. However, according to spokesman Clarke Rupert, the commission is required to review projects that pass through reservoirs and state parks that lie within its comprehensive plan.
Rupert said DRBC staff may also examine how much water the pipeline developers may need to draw from or discharge into the river.
Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum is among the environmentalists opposing the pipeline. She is concerned about the roughly 60 creeks and streams that are in the project’s proposed path.
“We’re going to want the Delware River Basin Commission to look at the cumulative impacts to all of the waterways that are going to be crossed,” she said.
The pipeline has also stirred opposition in southern New Jersey where it would cut through wetlands and preserved farmland.
The scope of the DRBC’s review will not be clear until PennEast formally submits an application to the commission within 90 days.
Spokeswoman Patricia Kornick said the company has already started meeting with the DRBC about the project.
The pipeline will also be subject to approvals from 20 other federal and state agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.