PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A proposal to build a $96 million pier in New Jersey, potentially to load tankers with liquid fuels produced from Pennsylvania's vast Marcellus Shale natural gas reservoir, received the unanimous approval Wednesday of the Delaware River Basin Commission.

The commission's approval came over the protests of environmental activists, who had opposed the approval, fearing that the 1,600-foot-long pier will be used to export liquefied natural gas brought in by road and rail to the Delaware River port.

The commission said its decision was limited to the impact of building the wharf and dredging the Delaware River to a depth of 43 feet, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported .

The site is on the former DuPont Repauno Works near Philadelphia International Airport. DuPont shut down operations on the property 20 years ago.

The property owner, Delaware River Partners LLC, has suggested in securities filings that its primary interest is to export propane and butane to European petrochemical manufacturers. It says it might ship other commodities, including liquefied natural gas, automobiles and bulk cargo.

It would be the second new dock on the site.

Local officials support the proposal as an economic development boost that would bring jobs, revive a dormant industrial site and generate tax revenue.

Opponents could challenge the commission's approval or seek to block other permits needed to develop the site, including state environmental approvals and Coast Guard permits.

Delaware River Partners is owned by a company controlled and managed by a New York hedge fund, Fortress Investment Group, which is affiliated with New Fortress Energy.

New Fortress has proposed a 3.6-million gallon-per-day natural gas liquefaction plant in Bradford County, in the middle of Marcellus Shale fields in northern Pennsylvania.

In securities filings, New Fortress has said it would export the LNG it produces to Caribbean locations through an unnamed Delaware River port.

New Fortress is run by Wesley R. Edens, a 57-year-old billionaire investment banker. He is also co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and Aston Villa Football Club in England.

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Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com

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