February HALT Update – February 12th, 2021

FEBRUARY UPDATE

We hope this finds you healthy, happy, and full of energy just waiting to be spent.

We have had a long respite from our hard work to stop PennEast but we are now entering the final chapters of this saga. Now is the time to rally everything we’ve got and finally send PennEast into the wastebin of bad ideas.

We will meet virtually at 7:30pm on Wednesday, February 24th to discuss the current steps and action items. The meeting invite with Zoom details will follow in a separate email.

We hope you will join us and help finally stop this PennBeast! Together we WILL stop this unwanted, unneeded, toxic pipeline and destruction of our land, water and constitutional rights. Let’s stand united stronger than ever!

Here are the recent updates:

The Supreme Court Case

The following update is provided courtesy of NJCF as a party to this case.

The Supreme Court granted PennEast’s petition for certiorari (asking the Court to review the Third Circuit decision), and the following briefing schedule has been established:

– PennEast’s brief is due March 1, 2021;

– Respondents (State, NJCF) file March 31st.

– Oral argument is anticipated for the Court’s second argument week in April.

Jennifer Danis, of counsel to the Columbia Environmental Law Clinic, is currently counsel of record for NJCF in this proceeding. Originally, the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic was going to be co-counsel for this representation, but two of their three lawyers left to go into the new administration. They recommended seeking replacement co-counsel with the firm of Donahue, Goldberg, Weaver & Littleton — specifically, David Goldberg and Matt Littleton. This private law firm is composed of white-hat Supreme Court litigators (and former clerks), that has a significant public interest practice. They have offered to co-counsel with Columbia Environmental Law Clinic. This partnership will ensure that NJCF is well-represented, and help guide this case towards the best possible outcome. This case is rife with thorny constitutional issues, and this constellation of counsel is excited for the adventure!

FERC Amendment Application

During the January 2021 meeting – the PennEast application was on the agenda. The item was pulled from the agenda during the meeting by Commissioner Chatterjee. He specifically said, “…commenters in this proceeding have raised concerns that action on this amendment would run afoul of the Natural Gas Act’s prohibition on modifying or setting aside orders that are currently before the court. I’m still considering arguments. I’ve always tried to tread carefully to ensure the commission does not run afoul of that prohibition”.

GREAT JOB COMMENTERS!

Further, two days later, the Biden administration elevated Commissioner Glick to the Chairman role on FERC. Two new commissioners have been sworn in now as well: Mark Christie and Allison Clements. The PRPC (Property Rights and Pipeline Center) is currently working to secure landowner discussions with the new commissioners. HALT is supportive of this effort and are working to get HALT members into the meetings as possible.

PA DEP

The Pennsylvania DEP has yet to decide upon the clean water permits required for Phase 1. Save Carbon County helped organize over 70 commenters at PA DEP open hearing last month (GREAT JOB!).

DRBC – ACTION REQUESTED

DRBC is now moving forward with evaluating the PennEast application. This is our current focus area! The DRBC is attentive to the concerns of the public and we can have an impact.

Please send further comments to penneastapp@drbc.nj.gov. As previously shared, while there is no official cutoff for comments, please send your comments by the end of this week (February 14th). Please use your own words or select from a few selections below (courtesy of Linda Christman).

  • In June of this year, Mike Spille sent a letter to the DRBC that contained a thorough analysis of the PennEast Pipeline application. That analysis pointed out 32 substantive problems with the application. The PennEast application is unprofessional and sub-standard and should be rejected as such.
  • The PennEast project substantially negatively impacts the watershed and conflicts with the DRBC Comprehensive Plan due to its significant disturbance of ground cover and water resources. Given these impacts, the DRBC must use its full jurisdictional authority encompassing the full project impact in considering the PennEast application.
  • PennEast has resisted submitting to DRBC authority and has maintained that the Phase I project is not subject to DRBC review and approval but Phase I is submitted as a phased construction of the originally certificated project and the entire project and the total project impacts must be considered by DRBC. This project should not be considered in a piece-meal fashion.

LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOUR “VIRTUALLY”  WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24 @ 7:30

(Zoom details to follow)

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