MARCH REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS
By SAVE CARBON COUNTY
PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 4/1/2019
PennEast filed for important approvals with both the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) this month. The PADEP submittals were applications for Chapter 102 and 105 permits under the Clean Water Act and a request to be excused from the Riparian Buffer protections under PA law. At the same time, PennEast submitted a request to FERC for Amendment Approval of the new pipeline route.
You may recall that the pipeline crossing of the Appalachian Trail is proposed to be moved about 2 miles to the East to cross the Trail at an existing power line easement in Monroe County. This change is less impactful for the Trail and was requested by the National Park Service. The Amendment Approval Request also made 3 changes to the route to the South of the Blue Mountain and proposed to install “interconnect” equipment at a revised location at the Blue Mountain Ski Area. Installing this equipment will mean that the ski resort will be able to access the pipeline gas for the purpose of making electricity. They will use the electricity to power their snowmaking and to provide power to a planned water park and condos at the resort. The resort will be the only customer served by the pipeline in Carbon County. PennEast argued that all of these changes made the pipeline less environmentally damaging. FERC did not agree and is now asking for scoping comments so that they can conduct an environmental assessment of the proposed changes. Save Carbon County and others have argued that the proposed changes create even greater environmental harm and we will be asking for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Study (EIS) which is a broader study than the assessment.
Save Carbon County (SCC) and others argued (both to FERC and PADEP) that PennEast has ignored the possible presence of Bog Turtles within the Aquashicola watershed, and that the route change subjects the creek to additional major impact from erosion and silting. We also argued that the Aquashicola should be provided more protection because this watershed is being considered for upgrade to a “special value” watershed.
On the Riparian Buffer Waiver Request, SCC noted that the so-called mitigation measures were inadequate and their restoration plan for stream banks was unlikely to produce true restoration while the elimination of the shade canopy by tree removal would raise the temperature of the water making Class A streams unfit for trout and other game fish.
SCC also noted that the pipeline plans made no provision for the containment of the Spotted Lanternfly.
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.”