Anti-fracking activists say it's not fair that the federal watchdog in charge of siting pipelines has chosen the vacation-heavy month of August to push through a pipeline project nearly as contentious as the Keystone XL.

"It almost appears as if [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] set out to discourage public input," said Tom Gilbert, director of the group New Jersey Conservation. "Let's make sure that our voices are heard loud and clear."

Gilbert's group and the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association are pressing the commission to withdraw its draft environmental impact statement for the 118-mile PennEast pipeline. The line is meant to deliver much-needed natural gas to New Jersey from fracking wells in Pennsylvania. The groups argue that the pipeline's route poses significant risks to the environment.

The commission's environmental statement was released last week and the public hearing schedule has been scheduled through mid-August, when most people typically go on vacation, the groups argue.

"This has all the markings of a rush job, not a thorough process to gather the facts and hear meaningful public comment from the people closest to the situation," said Jim Waltman, executive director of Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association.

"After all, the proposed pipeline would threaten some of the state's most pristine streams, damage taxpayer-funded preservation lands, and take private property through eminent domain," Waltman added. Comments on the environmental review are due Sept. 12.

The conservation groups have joined a chorus of environmentalists and other green activist groups, such as the Sierra Club, in protesting the draft environmental review. They say it is woefully inadequate to address all the environmental impacts of the project, including those involving climate change.

Gilbert's group is one of the first to protest the commission's public hearing schedule.

"The groups expressed outrage that the comment period is to take place over the most active vacation and back-to-school period of the year, which includes six public hearings packed into three consecutive days in mid-August," the groups said in a joint press release.

"In addition, none of the public hearings will be held in the towns that are along the pipeline route," they added.

A number of pipelines that FERC is looking to approve to move gas from the fracking wells in Pennsylvania to the Northeast have come under activist scrutiny in recent months, making the watchdog a target for anti-fossil fuel groups.