August 2021 Report To Stakeholders

AUGUST REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS

By SAVE CARBON COUNTY

PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 8/30/21


PennEast has announced that it will not complete the
acquisition of rights of way “for some time.”
Their attorney in PA
has indicated that the company will dismiss all condemnation suits.
The suits will be dismissed in a way that will allow them to be
reopened at a future date. The company continues to express
confidence in the project but stated, “Given the uncertainty on timing
to resolve the remaining legal and regulatory hurdles, PennEast
believes it is not prudent to complete the acquisition of rights of way in
the pending actions in Pennsylvania, as it might not be necessary for
some time.” Reports indicate that there are as many as 70 cases that
will be dismissed.


The pipeline company recently had a big win against the State of New
Jersey at the Supreme Court which essentially permitted them to
condemn 43 parcels controlled or owned by the State of New Jersey,
so this is a surprising move. However, despite the win at the Supreme
Court, PennEast faces many future obstacles. There are pending cases
before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the certificate
issued to the pipeline by the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency (FERC)
and there are significant regulatory hurdles ahead. The pipeline will
need a Clean Water Certification from the State of New Jersey, which
may present problems, as well as a permit from the Delaware River
Basin Commission and a final PA wetlands permit from the Army Corps
of Engineers. Additionally, the company’s proposed phased approach
to the pipeline’s construction has yet to obtain a certificate from FERC.
This approach would have allowed the company to proceed with
construction in PA while awaiting resolution of issues in New Jersey.

PennEast is also facing a loss of confidence by company partners.
Four of the five partners have downgraded their investment in the
project in amounts of roughly $90 million each. In addition to these
many problems, the federal certificate which grants the company the
right to condemn land will expire in January of 2022.


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.”

Posters on the Pipeline ; Kitty Evans

Introduction

These posters are the art work of our Webmaster, Kitty Evans.  She created these as a school project but we think they express not only her feelings about living with the threat of the PennEast pipeline but the feelings of many of our HALT landowners.

Take a look if you would like some insight into the day to day impact of this project over the past seven years.

The Poisonous Dangers of the Proposed PennEast Pipeline

The PennEast Pipeline, Jacqueline Haut Evans, and HALT PennEast

July 2021 Report To Stakeholders

JULY REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS

By SAVE CARBON COUNTY

PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 8/6/21

We follow the money. In its recently released quarterly report, New
Jersey Resources, has downgraded its investment in PennEast saying
that,” Despite the favorable outcome from the Supreme Court,
PennEast continues to experience regulatory and legal challenges
resulting in continued delays preventing the commencement of
construction and commercial operation of the project.” Another
partner, South Jersey Industries recently released their quarterly
report also downgrading the PennEast investment saying that the
ultimate outcome of this project could not be determined.

Most of the resisting landowners in Carbon County have not
been taken to court for Eminent Domain.
Now that the Supreme
Court has decided the New Jersey v. PennEast case, the Federal
Eastern District Court will want to move forward on these cases, and
we expect to be subpoenaed soon. We take comfort in the fact that
even if they coerce our land from us, the easements will be worthless
pieces of paper if the pipeline is never built.

Under a recent Freedom of Information Act request, a group
called Physicians for Social Responsibility has learned that in 2011, the
EPA approved the use of three compounds known as “forever
chemicals”
to be used in the fracking process. These long-lasting
compounds called PFAs are a threat to people and wildlife in minuscule
amounts and were approved to be pumped into the ground despite the
agency’s own grave concerns about their toxicity. The EPA’s approval
of the three compounds for this purpose was not previously known.
The EPA identified serious health risks associated with these chemicals
but approved their industrial use with very lax oversight. The fracking
industry pumps various chemicals underground at high pressure to
facilitate the drilling process. Under Pennsylvania law, these chemical
mixtures are considered “trade secrets” and are not required to be
revealed. The presence of PFAs threatens to expose workers as well
as people who live downstream or nearby to a class of chemicals that
has links to cancer, birth defects, and other serious health problems.

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.”

Further Reading on Forever Chemicals and Action: https://participant.com/campaigns/Dark-Waters

Supreme Court Decision

U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISION

We had a difficult decision today but not unexpected.  Below is the NJCF press release.  There will be no June HALT Member Meeting.  We will share next steps and plans at our July member Meeting. 

U.S. Supreme Court Grants PennEast Land Seizure

Additional approvals needed before project can proceed

 In a narrow 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today overturns the Third Circuit Court of Appeal’s earlier decision that PennEast, as a private company, lacks legal authority to seize state-owned lands without the state’s consent.

 The decision enables PennEast to proceed with seizing over 40 properties preserved for future generations by the State of New Jersey and its partners with tax-payer dollars.  The court ruled only on the narrow issue of whether PennEast can seize state lands, not the merits of the project.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Third Circuit’s ruling puts public preserved land in New Jersey in great jeopardy. This is disappointing, but PennEast is still facing numerous legal and regulatory hurdles that will prevent this unnecessary, polluting project from moving forward,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation and ReThink Energy NJ. “The PennEast pipeline would threaten the health and safety of our communities, seize private land and taxpayer-preserved open space, and harm our drinking water, natural and historic resources. Ultimately, the state will have final say as to whether the project may proceed.”

 “This project cannot move forward without a New Jersey authorization finding that it could be built consistent with Clean Water Act laws – which are designed to protect waters and wetlands against destructive projects like PennEast,” said Jennifer Danis, senior fellow at Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and of counsel to Morningside Heights Legal Services at Columbia Law School. “While it’s outrageous that the Court sidestepped decades of sovereign immunity jurisprudence, the Murphy Administration went to the mat trying to guard its public and stewarded conservation lands – and we are thankful that they take conservation so seriously.” 

FERC’s certificate for the project is being appealed by numerous parties in the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. The project must still receive approvals from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the Delaware River Basin Commission and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection that has twice denied permits for the project.

June 2021 Report To Stakeholders

JUNE REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS

By SAVE CARBON COUNTY

PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 6/30/21

The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in favor of PennEast on Tuesday allowing the pipeline to condemn state-owned property through eminent domain.  The opinion created a strange coalition of judges with Gorsuch, Thomas, Barrett, and Kagan in opposition and Alito, Roberts, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kavanaugh in the prevailing position.  At its simplest, the decision means that the federal government can delegate its power to condemn properties to for-profit entities such as PennEast.  PennEast will now be able to acquire 42 properties that are owned by New Jersey and preserved for farmland or open space or for conservation purposes.  The majority opinion written by Justice Roberts states that, “…they [states] surrendered their immunity from the exercise of the federal eminent domain power when they ratified the Constitution.”

PennEast plans to build the pipeline in two phases with the first phase a Pennsylvania-only pipeline running through Carbon and Monroe and  ending in Bethlehem with the second phase terminating as originally planned in Trenton, New Jersey.  Both phases face daunting regulatory and legal hurdles.  Both phases will now face court cases that have been held in abeyance pending the outcome of this Supreme Court decision.

What the courts giveth the courts can take away. The proposal to build the Pennsylvania-only portion of the project seems to be at risk due to a recent case argued before the DC Circuit.  That case involves the Spire pipeline. The key question appealed was whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) erred in conferring a certificate of public necessity and need for the Spire pipeline which used only shippers affiliated with the owners of the pipeline to prove the need for the pipeline.  Spire lost the argument and the case.  The PennEast Phase I project also uses only self-dealing contracts to validate the need for the project.   Since FERC has yet to issue a certificate, issuance seems unlikely unless unbiased evidence that the pipeline truly serves the public good can be produced.

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.”