HALT represents landowners throughout the PennEast route including Pennsylvania landowners. The following is a monthly report on the pipeline project from Save Carbon County. This group is a concerned citizens’ committee that is a Pennsylvania partner of HALT.
DEC. REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS
By SAVE CARBON COUNTY
PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 1/29/2019
On Dec. 14th, landowners in NJ received a final judgement in their Eminent Domain hearing. Over one hundred landowners were taken to court by PennEast to obtain survey access to their land. PennEast also asked for a summary judgement to give the company possession of easements for construction of the pipeline. The judge took over six months to decide the case but finally issued his decision granting possession of the land requested by PennEast. Title of the easements will be transferred to PennEast when compensation has been set by the court some months later.
Now, landowners in PA are being brought into court by PennEast. A hearing for approximately 12 landowners from Northampton and Bucks Counties will be held on February 5th in the Eastern District of the Federal Court. Landowners in Carbon and Luzerne counties will soon receive notices to appear. Approximately 12 landowners in Carbon County are affected.
We expect that the hearing will follow the same process used in NJ. Landowners will not have the option of a trial by a jury of their peers. Landowners will not be able to raise issues related to the placement of the easement within their property. Nor will landowners have any subsequent hearing to address these issues before PennEast takes possession of their land.
The UGI Company which is the primary partner in the PennEast LLC has asked the PA Public Utilities Commission for a whopping 17% increase in residential gas rates. The company is asking that their current service areas be combined so that all areas are charged the same rate. Rates are determined by the wholesale cost of gas and infrastructure installation and repair costs. If all service areas are combined, Carbon County will bear a share of the infrastructure costs for much older systems such as those near Philadelphia and fast-growing areas such as the Lehigh Valley. If the pipeline is ever constructed, UGI customers will also bear the cost of construction and a 14% Return on Investment that is allowed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
A recent report in the Wall Street Journal says that fracking companies in PA and elsewhere are cutting back on drilling amid concerns that the supply of gas is outpacing demand. Analysts are predicting even further future losses in demand. Will pipelines already constructed be left in the ground unused as “stranded assets?” And why do we need another pipeline?
Save Carbon County is a member of a regional and two-state effort to stop the PennEast/UGI pipeline. Local information can be found on FaceBook at “Stop the Fracking Pipeline.” Regional Information can be found on FaceBook at “Stop PennEast Pipeline.”