February 2021 Report To Stakeholders

FEB. REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS

By SAVE CARBON COUNTY

PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 3/1/2021

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of PennEast v. New Jersey.
This case will answer the question if a private company, such as PennEast, can
use eminent domain against a state. Briefs from PennEast are due today. The
case will be heard in April with a decision expected in June. If PennEast wins,
they will likely resume their original efforts to build a 118-mile pipeline to Trenton.
Landowners would have preferred that the lower court ruling stand.
There is congressional movement to reform FERC (Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission).
Since over 99% of pipelines are approved by FERC,
homeowners have long believed that their concerns are not given due
consideration. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have introduced “The
Pipeline Fairness, Transparency, and Responsible Development Act of 2020.”
And Congressman Jeremy Raskin of Maryland is also working to introduce a
House version of FERC reform legislation. The reforms will address the unfair
treatment of landowners by FERC.
On Thursday Feb. 24th , The DRBC (Delaware River Basin Commission)
voted to adopt a permanent ban on fracking within the watershed.
All four
state representatives voted for the ban. At the present, this ban will allow water
withdrawals for fracking and will allow treated fracking wastewater to be returned
to the river. However, the withdrawals and importations of wastewater are also
being reviewed by the Commission. A single fracking well pad can require up to
a million gallons of water for operation, so the withdrawal of water is an important
consideration for the industry.
This ban applies to the entire basin which drains 13,539 sq. miles, about half of
which is in Pennsylvania. The fracking ban would affect the Pocono region and
other northeastern counties that sit entirely or partly over Marcellus Shale
deposits. These counties are Carbon, Monroe, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike,
Schuylkill, and Wayne.
This decision does not affect the PennEast pipeline because the pipeline will
draw its gas from counties to our northwest. However, the willingness of the
Commission to take such sweeping action to protect the watershed is
encouraging to environmentalists and PennEast-impacted landowners.
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.”

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)

February HALT Update

NEWS
Comments Needed Now!

We have been advised by our friends at NJCF that the Delaware River Basin
Commission (DRBC) has begun to review the PennEast application.
While the formal comment period is not yet open, we are requesting that you submit
written comments to 
penneastapp@drbc.gov urging them to reject PennEast’s
application. There is no deadline at present. The DRBC invites comments on matters
not yet scheduled on their docket so let’s keep up the momentum and provide them!


WHAT TO SAY:  Below are samples of comments made at the last DRBC meeting.
Feel free to copy all or parts of and use as your own. You can incorporate the
comments into one email but the more comments you send the better! Also, additional
topics to comment on can be found on Mike Spille’s
website: https://www.pipeinfo.org/drbc


Comment 1
PennEast has repeatedly disregarded the Commission’s authority. First, PennEast
withdrew their previous application and asserted that the Commission did not have
jurisdiction over Phase I of the new project they’ve submitted to FERC. When the
Commission appropriately corrected PennEast on this, PennEast said they would
“voluntarily” submit an application if the Commission agreed to review it on their
arbitrary and overly aggressive timeline.
PennEast has blatantly attempted to skirt the Commission’s review by arguing that their
project doesn’t constitute a project, and by playing a shell game in an effort to make it
appear that they don’t meet the commission’s thresholds. To the Commission’s credit
you have firmly and appropriately rejected these hollow claims.
I urge you to reject PennEast’s application without prejudice.


Comment 2
Whatever project PennEast asks FERC to certificate must also be reviewed by the
Commission. PennEast has asked FERC to certificate building the entire pipeline in two
phases. Yet, PennEast has only submitted an application to the commission for Phase I.
They can’t have it both ways and submit different versions of the project to multiple
agencies as it suits their needs.
The Commission must demand that PennEast submit an application for the entire route
so that the full impacts of the project to the DRBC can be evaluated.
By submitting a Phase I only, PennEast is attempting to segment the Commissions
Review and artificially minimize the impact of the project to the Basin’s water resources.
For Example, in their application to the Commission, PennEast States that Phase I will
impact 17.3 acres of wetland within 30’ of the maintained row, pointing out that this falls
below one of the Commission’s thresholds of 25 acres of wetlands impacted. However,

if PennEast were to submit both Phases, the project would clearly exceed this
threshold, as Phase II would impact an additional 19 acres of wetland in New Jersey.
Considering one half at a time of a two-phase project would conceal the true and
cumulative impact of a project that will have significant and unacceptable impacts to the
water resources that you are charged with protecting.
Although Phase I would still fall under the commission’s review, I urge you to require
that PennEast submit all necessary information for Phase II of the project so that the
Commission reviews the same project that is currently before FERC, and fully evaluates
the impacts to the Delaware River Basin.
THANK YOU!

January 2021 Report To Stakeholders

JAN. REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS

By SAVE CARBON COUNTY

PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 2/1/2021

There are only two remaining permits to be issued by the PA. Dept. of
Environmental Protection (PADEP) for the shortened Pennsylvania-only
PennEast pipeline.
These are permits concerning erosion and sediment control
and water obstruction and encroachment. Carbon County is particularly
impacted with nearly half of the affected streams within our county. PADEP held
a virtual public hearing on Jan. 13 th and over 70 speakers attended. Most of
them opposed the pipeline including Save Carbon County and the Aquashicola
Pohopoco Watershed Conservancy (APWC) which are local groups.

The Jan. 19th meeting of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
turned into a big setback for PennEast.
The project was on the agenda to
receive a certificate which would allow the company to begin construction and cut
trees. We fully expected that FERC would rubber stamp the certificate with no
discussion. But we were surprised when Commissioner Chatterjee announced
that he would be voting “no” on the issuance of the certificate, not because he
opposed the project, but because he was concerned that FERC lacked proper
jurisdiction since PennEast still has a case before the Federal Court that has
been appealed to the Supreme Court. Opponents have long contended that
once a court has taken a project under its jurisdiction, FERC may not allow
construction to proceed. To do so would deny litigants meaningful intervention
by the courts since construction would continue while a case was under
consideration. When Chatterjee announced his vote, the two Democrats on the
FERC concurred and the Chair, wishing to avoid a defeat for PennEast, removed
the item from the agenda. Pres. Biden has appointed one of the Democratic
members of the FERC as chair. The new chair is unlikely to place PennEast
back on the agenda until July when the Democrats will have a majority.

Once Biden’s appointments hold the majority, FERC is likely to change
dramatically. The Commission has the power to institute carbon pricing and
other market changes that will facilitate Biden’s push for renewable and zero-
emission energy sources. One of those changes will be increased scrutiny of
fossil fuel infrastructure projects such as PennEast.

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.”

December 2020 Report To Stakeholders

DEC. REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS

By SAVE CARBON COUNTY

PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 12/31/2020

There are only two remaining permits to be issued by the PA. Dept. of
Environmental Protection (PADEP) for the shortened Pennsylvania-only
PennEast pipeline.
They are permits concerning erosion and sediment control
(Chapter 102) and water obstruction and encroachment (Chapter 105). This version of
the pipeline is only 68 miles long but it will impact over 17 acres of wetlands and cross
96 waterbodies. Most of these waterbodies and wetlands will be crossed using the
open-cut or trenched method—the most damaging option.


Nearly half of the impacted streams are in Carbon County; 16 are located within the
Aquashicola Watershed. This watershed has been under study by PADEP biologists
for re-designation to “Exceptional Value/Special.” These pipeline crossings will surely
diminish the water quality in this important Carbon County watershed and damage
habitat for native brook trout.


Carbon County residents value the beauty and special environment found here. This
pipeline will have a huge negative impact on that environment. It will cross Hickory
Run State Park, Bethlehem Water Authority lands, Weiser State Forest and Beltzville
State Park as well as preserved farms leaving an unnatural clear-cut through forests
that will be filled by non-native species like the Tree of Heaven and Japanese
Knotweed. Now is the time to speak out. Send your comments to
RA-EPPENNEAST@pa.gov before Jan. 20th.


Albertine Anthony passed away on Dec. 9th. She was 95 years old, a lifelong
farmer and the owner of one of the prettiest farms in the County. She put her family
farm in the farmland preservation program to protect it from development. Over the
years, she had many lucrative offers for the farm but always refused. When the
PennEast Pipeline came along she was adamant about fighting the pipeline and never
agreed to sell easements. More than once, she kicked PennEast land agents off of her
property and was not shy about telling company representatives what she thought of
their pipeline.


She left us a strong example of how to stand up to powerful interests. I am so glad I
had the opportunity to get to know her.

Albertine Anthony, an impacted landowner who continuously stood up against PennEast recently passed away.

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.”

November 2020 Report To Stakeholders

NOV. REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS

By SAVE CARBON COUNTY

PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 12/01/2020


The Trump administration is rushing forward on a roll back of bird protections.
The administration is proposing to limit regulation of industries that engage in
practices that kill migratory birds. Such practices include wind turbines that knock
birds from the air, electrocution of birds on power lines, and oil field waste pits
where birds die in toxic water. Existing regulations also ensure that large scale
tree cutting does not occur during the nesting season. The protections are
included in the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act which protects birds ranging from
hawks and eagles to seabirds, songbirds and sparrows. The proposed change
would allow harms to protected birds as long as the harm was not “intentional.”
Industry operations currently kill an estimated 450 million to 1.1 billion birds
annually.


Oil and gas companies, including Pennsylvania’s fracking companies, are
declaring bankruptcies at a pace not seen in years driven under by a pandemic
that has slashed worldwide demand and by competition from renewable energy
sources.
According to industry analysts, almost 250 oil and gas companies could
file for bankruptcy by the end of 2021 which is more than the previous five years
combined. As these companies face economic challenges they spend less on well
maintenance creating environmental consequences. Fracking sites often have
leaking tanks, pipelines and wells. With less money, these leaks go unaddressed.
Even worse, as companies go into bankruptcy, they simply walk away and leave
well sites abandoned. These orphan wells continue to damage the environment
by leaking methane which can warm the planet 80 times as much as carbon
dioxide when measured over a 20-year period. The cost to plug a typical fracking
well is approximately $300,000. States typically require a bond to ensure that
wells are capped and well sites are cleaned up. Pennsylvania only requires a bond
of $2,500 for each well. Pennsylvania requires unused wells to be plugged but
companies can often avoid the expense by selling off the well to smaller
companies or by accounting work arounds. North Dakota has gone from zero to
336 orphan wells in just the last two months. Pennsylvania, which is second only
to Texas in fracking production, will undoubtedly be hard hit, leaving taxpayers to
fund the clean-up.


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.”