Massive Fracked-Gas Export Terminal Coming to Southern New Jersey

On December 9 a regional planning body, the Delaware River Basin Commission, gave a green light to a mammoth fracked-gas export terminal in Gibbstown, New Jersey.  It would export fracked-gas from the Marcellus Shale gas fields to Angola, among other countries.  The Governors of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey voted yay.  Governor Andrew Cuomo of NY abstained.  Environmentalists and concerned citizens had hoped Governor Phil Murphy of NJ would oppose the project.  Here is my letter to the Governor.

Dear Governor Murphy,

I suggest a Zen workshop.

You know – the kind where you sit cross-legged.  You stare at a blank wall.  Once-in-a-while someone sneaks up behind you.  They hit you with a stick.  Presto, you wake up.

Clearly, you are not awake.  After all, you just did a big favor to an investment fund based in Tokyo, the SoftBank Group.  They own – through a labyrinth of holding companies – Delaware River Partners, LLC. That’s the company that made the application for the project.

Bookmark that LLC.

Please explain.  Why did you vote for this project?

Was it because you think the residents of New Jersey and Pennsylvania should make sacrifices for the people of Puerto Rico and Jamaica – the countries where agencies have contracted to buy this fracked gas, even while significant segments of their populations know wind and solar is much more appropriate for sun-drenched and hurricane-prone islands? What about Angola? Is that top on our list of priorities?

Was it because of the jobs generated in New Jersey?  Granted jobs are desperately needed, especially during these Covid-19 times. But did you take the time to think, what if we took the $900 million or so this port is going to cost and spent it on weatherization and retrofitting programs in Trenton or Newark or Philadelphia? Wouldn’t we generate thousands not hundreds of jobs?

Was it because you believed that Delaware River Partners, LLC was really interested in the well-being of the citizens of your state?  (The marketing team did well with that name.  How cozy, how environmentally-benign it sounds!)  Delaware River Partners, by the way, only has seven employees.  Wasn’t that a tip-off that the company was a front?

And what about the LLC part?  Limited Liability Company.

What about an accident?  After all 100-tank-car trains making the 185-mile trip down from Wyalusung, PA to Philadelphia and then across the Delaware River via an ancient bridge trip is concerning.  That’s twice a day on an old railroad bed and over the Delair bridge, built in 1896.  What if a bolt comes lose, a train-coupling breaks, a railroad engineer dozes off for one second?  What if there is an explosion?

Who or what is liable? Is it Delaware River Partners, LLC? Is it the New Fortress Energy Project, which owns Delaware River Partners?  Is it the Fortress Investment Group that owns New Fortress Energy?  Is it the SoftBank Group?

Surely, this is a question your staff looked into.  Isn’t it?

By the way those sticks used in Zen meditation are called Kyosaku.   I was once hit by one at a meditation center in Rochester, New York.  Apparently, the New York Governor visited the same center.  At least, he had the decency to abstain on this scurrilous project.

Mina Hamilton served on the Board of Directors of Greenpeace, USA. She was a co-founder and co-director of the Sierra Club Radioactive Waste Campaign and President of the Delaware Valley Conservation Association. Her writing has appeared in Mother Jones magazine, the Progressive, the Nation and is a frequent contributor to She lives in Western Massachusetts. Read other articles by Mina.