On August 3, the Senate confirmed Trump’s two nominees to FERC, which restores its quorum and enables FERC to issue orders again. Since FERC always approves pipeline projects, we anticipate that PennEast will receive its certificate of public convenience and necessity in late August or early September. This will allow PennEast to start filing papers against landowners in order to take their land. However, even if FERC approves it, and even if PennEast takes land through eminent domain, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) can still stop the project by denying a water quality certification that is required under section 401 of the Clean Water Act. We know this can be done because NY State stopped the Constitution Pipeline in April of 2016 by denying a 401 water quality certification.
The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) can also stop the PennEast project by denying a permit for the project. Its members include the governors of NJ, NY, PA and Del. and the Division Engineer of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
HALT expects to challenge FERC’s certificate in a US Circuit Court of Appeals. While we cannot reveal the exact nature of this lawsuit, HALT expects to ask that court-ordered easements be removed for landowners who are members of HALT and who have their land taken through eminent domain proceedings. If you are interested in becoming a HALT member, please contact us.
Landowners who sign easement agreements with PennEast cannot have the easement removed from their deed – even if the pipeline is not built. Those easement agreements are assets that can be sold to another company.
Eminent domain is an individual homeowner issue, but HALT will try to help its members get answers to their questions. In addition, HALT members are banding together to contest eminent domain and minimize legal fees.
HALT will keep you informed as these events unfold. Our voices and actions remain the vital element that will stop this unneeded, unwanted, and harmful pipeline.