The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Monday approved a critical water-quality permit for the $1 billion PennEast Pipeline project, which would deliver Marcellus Shale natural gas from Northeast Pennsylvania mostly to utilities in New Jersey.

The Water Quality Certifications, which acknowledges measures are in place to minimize the impact on streams and waterways, is required under the Federal Clean Water Act as a prerequisite to receiving a federal license or permit for activities that involve waterways. PennEast is awaiting approval for the project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, which has opposed the project, said DEP's decision "made a mockery of our environmental protection laws."