AUGUST REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS
By SAVE CARBON COUNTY
PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 9/3/2019
PennEast resubmitted its application for a certification under the Clean Water Act to the New Jersey DEP on August 8th. The Department will review the application for 20 days for “completeness” and then open the application to public comment for 30 days minimum. The public comment period may well be extended as many comments from the public are expected. Once the comment period is completed, the Department may deny the application which would mean that the PennEast pipeline is defeated for all practical purposes. This is the beginning of the final chapter of the PennEast saga.
PennEast has also submitted its application to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). This application is expected to be on the docket for the December meeting of the Commission. A denial by DRBC could also spell the end of the project.
In the meantime, Pres. Trump has issued an executive order directing the EPA to rewrite Clean Water Regulations to limit the ability of states and tribes to block pipelines to protect locally significant waters. The rule change is to be finalized by May 2020 but will face court challenges.
On August 21st, a federal court denied Columbia Gas the right to move forward with construction of a gas pipeline through public land in Maryland. The pipeline company had filed suit against the state of Maryland to force access to the Maryland Rail Trail, a state-owned park. The company argued by virtue of the permit granted to it by the FERC that it was empowered to use Eminent Domain to seize right of way from Maryland. This is the same argument PennEast is making in New Jersey. The judge denied Columbia Gas injunctive relief because they found that private industry does not have the right to file an eminent domain case against the state because the state has sovereign immunity. The state of New Jersey is also arguing it is protected from eminent domain proceedings because the state has “sovereign immunity.” The Maryland case is a positive precedent from the point of view of New Jersey
While the PennEast company is officially proclaiming that they will begin construction in 2020, the Quarterly Financial Report from one of the partners does not bear that out. New Jersey Resources which is a 20% partner in the PennEast company, is showing the largest share of construction costs occurring in 2021. Save Carbon County and other concerned citizens’ groups closely monitor quarterly filings for all of the PennEast partners because “money talks, and you know what walks.”
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.”