AUGUST REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS
By SAVE CARBON COUNTY
PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 9/7/2020
On Sept. 2nd the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) concluded the
opportunity to comment on the Environmental Assessment for the new Phase 1 (PA
only) pipeline project. The 30-day comment period garnered 638 comments from
opponents of the project. The FERC assessment focused only on the single added
metering and regulation station at Church Rd. in Bethlehem Twp. This narrow review
drew many objections and calls for a full Environmental Impact Study (EIS). Many
commenters questioned the need for the pipeline since only half of the proposed
capacity has been contracted for, and those contracts are with partners in the PennEast
project itself. They point out that the market is saying that the pipeline is not needed.
PennEast says that prompt approval of the pipeline is needed in order for PennEast to
be operational in the 2021-22 winter heating season.
One of the comments filed was from the Niskanen Center in cooperation with the
New Jersey Conservation Fund and the Watershed Institute. The comment was filed
on behalf of seven Carbon County landowners and three landowners from Northampton
County. The extensive comment was obviously a precursor to a lawsuit should the FERC
approve the Environmental Assessment and grant the Phase I project permission to
construct. The seven Carbon County landowners represented by the Niskanen Center
are Roy and Linda Christman, Eric McKeever, Peggy Ermlick, Joseph Plechavy, Albertine
Anthony, and Judy Walck and Jerry Walk on behalf of Barbara Walk. The pipeline’s
impacts on each landowner’s plans for their own property were detailed in the filing.
The Niskanen Center is a “right of center” think tank that views the taking by eminent
domain in these pipeline cases as a violation of private property rights and an over-
reach by the federal government.
As a past practice, when FERC was confronted with a rehearing request, which is
required prior to filing a lawsuit, the FERC would issue a “tolling order” and refuse to act
on the rehearing request while allowing construction of the disputed pipeline to
proceed. It was not unusual for tolling orders to consume a year or more of time during
which the pipeline would be fully constructed thus denying the plaintiffs their day in
court. Last year, a Federal Appeals Court ruled that this use of tolling orders violated the
right of landowners to seek redress in court and was thus unconstitutional. Plaintiffs
will be playing with a whole new set of rules when requests for rehearing are filed.
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.”