Clean Ocean Action: The Environmental Victory in the NESE Methane Gas Project Defeat


Environmentalists from various contingents all over the state called it a victory for ocean and sea life health.

With Clean Ocean Action at the helm, that victory against what they dubbed a Goliath methane gas project was celebrated on the Keyport waterfront on Monday by the large, broad-based coalition of organizations from the Delaware River to the sea.

After nearly eight years of permit filings and extensions, Williams Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project finally expired.

“At long last, this un-NESE-sary, dirty fossil fuel project finally gave up the ghost and gasped its last gassy breath,” said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action. “Together, we celebrate the many organizations and individuals that worked so hard over many years to stop NESE. COA came to this project in 2019 to represent the marine environment and are thrilled and proud that the voices of Monmouth County, 100 percent of Bayshore municipalities, groups and communities acted quickly in unified opposition. Collectively, this opposition greatly contributed to the efforts to oppose this massive fossil fuel project. The staff of COA are honored to have coordinated with such an effective coalition of groups. Today, there is one less fossil fuel facility impacting the land, sea, and air.”

Plans for the NESE Project included: piping fracked gas from the Marcellus shale region in Pennsylvania through aged pipelines in New Jersey; construction of a new 32,000-horsepower gas-fired compressor station 206 near Trap Rock Quarry off Route 27 behind the Buddhist Vihara in Franklin Township across from several communities in South Brunswick; and the construction of a 23.4-mile offshore pipeline through the Raritan and Lower New York bays. All projects, environmentalists maintain, would have adversely impacted marine life and shoreline communities in NY and NJ.

On May 3, 2024, Williams Transco let a key Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) construction application extension expire, which ended a nearly decade-long battle by groups and residents that opposed the project.

It was the culmination of what Clean Ocean Action called a “zombie-like” cycle in which Williams Transco sought to keep the project alive every two years by requesting extensions from FERC, promising that the companies were working to modify NESE to address (without evidence) the insurmountable strong local and legal opposition as well as permit denials from both environmental agencies of New York and New Jersey.

The project, Zipf and other environmental group leaders have maintained, would have caused irreparable harm to our environment by increasing climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and flooding, destroying critical wetlands and habitats, and cutting through sensitive Raritan Bay and New York Bay, disrupting the marine environment.

“Williams Transco’s decision not to renew its FERC extension is a monumental victory for the people who have been fighting this disastrous fossil fuel project for the past eight years,” said Anjuli Ramos-Busot, New Jersey director of the Sierra Club. “NESE would have caused irreparable environmental damage by destroying wetlands, cutting through the Raritan Bay, increasing flooding, and more. While we will be celebrating today, we will remain vigilant. We will continue to fight to protect our land, air, and water from any fossil fuel project in New Jersey.”

Since 2016, organizations in both New Jersey and New York, held rallies and events, collected petition signatures, set up countless information and action tables at community events, and reviewed and commented on documents at every opportunity to stop the project. During the pandemic, the groups kept people engaged in actions to stop NESE by launching a “stay-at-home” action toolkit.

“Eastern Environmental Law Center (EELC) has worked tirelessly alongside a fierce coalition of grassroots New Jersey and New York activists and our clients Princeton Manor Homeowners Association, Central Jersey Safe Energy Coalition, NY/NJ Baykeeper, and Food & Water. Watch to oppose this unnecessary and polluting new pipeline and compressor station,” said Kaitlin Morrison, staff attorney at EELC. “Most recently, EELC opposed Williams Transco’s second request for an extension to build NESE, and FERC cited our letter in cutting the requested extension in half so that the certificate expired on Friday. Due to the persistence of all of the groups involved, we are relieved and elated to say that this looming threat to public health and the environment has finally ended.”

Both New Jersey and New York Governors did not approve permits for the project. Every Mayor along the entire Bayshore of Monmouth County, New Jersey, at one point, opposed the project, and nearly 20 municipalities passed resolutions opposing NESE. Thousands of citizens and dozens of organizations and community groups participated in efforts to oppose NESE.

“Surfrider’s New Jersey volunteers are today celebrating the demise of a polluting fossil fuel pipeline that would have locked New Jersey into even more harrowing climate change impacts than we are already experiencing,” said Matt Gove, mid-Atlantic policy manager, Surfrider Foundation. “The demise of the NESE Pipeline is a lesson for other NJ communities that we don’t have to accept the future that the oil and gas industry is forcing upon us,”

“We are grateful that this victory means greater protection for the sacred waters of NJ and NY. Through our coalition’s relentless dedication, we have not only thwarted the polluters, but also safeguarded the lifeblood of our communities: water. The people will not give up. We will continue to defend our waters and our communities against environmental injustices in our unwavering dedication to sacred Earth,” said Blair Nelsen, Executive Director of Waterspirit.

While declaring victory over NESE, the groups at Monday’s press conference also noted that vigilance and action is needed to continue to fight fossil fuel projects proposed in New Jersey and beyond to protect communities and the environment and to combat climate change.

Some of the many groups that worked since 2016 to stop NESE in the New Jersey region include:, Bayshore Regional Watershed Council, Central Jersey Safe Energy Coalition, Central Jersey Environmental Defenders, CHARGE (Consumers Helping Affect Regulation of Gas & Electric), Clean Ocean Action, Clean Water Action, Eastern Environmental Law Center, Environment New Jersey, Franklin Township Task Force on NESE, Food & Water Watch, Indivisible Bayshore, League of Women Voters of New Jersey, Natural Resources Defense Council, Natural Resources Protective Association, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs, NY/NJ Baykeeper, People Over Pipelines, Princeton Manor Homeowners’ Association, Princeton University Outdoor Action, Raritan Riverkeeper, ReThink Energy NJ, Save Coastal Wildlife, Sane Energy Project, Sierra Club New Jersey Chapter, South Brunswick Transco Compressor Station Task Force, Surfrider Foundation, The Watershed Institute, UU Faith Action NJ, United For Action, and Waterspirit.

— Edited press release from COA

— Photos/COA