‘We have to back up our neighbors’: Vernon opposes compressor station expansion

Vernon. The new 20,000-horsepower compressor proposed for Libertyville Road in Wantage will triple the size of the existing compressor.

| 09 Jul 2021 | 01:56

The Vernon Township Council voted to oppose the proposed expansion of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s compressor station in Wantage.

The measure passed 4-1, with only Councilwoman Toni Cilli voting against.

Last June, Tennessee Gas proposed its East 300 Upgrade, which includes a new 19,000 horsepower fracked gas compressor station along its pipeline in West Milford at 960 Burt Meadow Road, and a new 20,000-horsepower compressor at 164 Libertyville Road in Wantage that will triple the size of the existing compressor.

The pipeline sends methane gas harvested from the Marcellus Shale through Pennsylvania and Sussex, Passaic, and Bergen counties in New Jersey before it reaches its destination in Westchester County, N.Y., where it will be used by Con Edison.

Tennessee Gas was scheduled to make a presentation before the Sussex County Commissioners on June 23, but company representative Joseph DeSanctis was unable attend because of “transportation issues.”

John Rocco of Blairstown, who has worked for Tennessee Gas for 30 years and represents 9,000 operating engineers in New Jersey, said the project will provide 150 “good-paying jobs” for two years.

Vernon Township Council President Harry Shortway countered that claim. He said it was unclear how many of those jobs would go to local residents.

The Wantage Township Council has voted to oppose the project even though it is powerless to stop it. Whether the project is approved or rejected is up to the state.

“I believe we have to back up our neighbors,” Shortway said. “If they don’t want it in their town, we have to back them up.”

Cilli said it was hypocritical for the council to oppose a project expected to bring in jobs after some members cited jobs and the economy as reasons for allowing five classes of cannabis commerce in the township (see related story on page 2).

Councilman Andrew Pitsker said Tennessee Gas doesn’t have a good reputation and doesn’t give the township any benefits.

Pitsker said the town is still restoring areas that Tennessee Gas damaged when laying pipeline through town.

Cilli asked if anyone had followed up on that.

“We are responsible for this town, but it’s their responsibility to take care of the checklist,” Pitsker said. “They’ve done this to towns all over the place.”

“They’ve done this to towns all over the place.” Councilman Andrew Pitsker