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.”

December HALT Update – December 2nd, 2020

VIRTUAL MEMBER MEETING – WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9 @ 7PM & REQUEST TO SUBMIT COMMENTS TO DRBC

We hope your Thanksgiving was relaxing and enjoyable and you are keeping safe and healthy.

Our December Member’s Meeting will be held Wednesday, December 9th at 7pm. This virtual meeting will focus on a few updates including DRBC, NJR public comments, SCOTUS, and a look ahead to 2021.

There are 2 ways to join the meeting.

  • Phone: Dial: +1 646 876 9923 ID: 89819213090#
  • Devices with camera and microphone (Laptop, smart phone, iPad, Chromebook, etc.) Depending on your device, you will need to download the zoom application (for free) prior to the meeting. Make sure that your camera and microphone are turned on in the zoom application. Once the zoom application is downloaded to join the meeting click on the link below. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89819213090

In order to allow the meeting to start on time, we suggest that if you haven’t used zoom before that you download the app Wednesday morning. If you encounter any problems, this will give enough time to work through them. If you need assistance call HALT @ 609-483-5530.

Secondly, we have been advised by our friends at NJCF that the DRBC is now reviewing the PennEast application. It is time to yet again send more comments to the DRBC. We have included the instructions and draft language below for your convenience.

DRBC Comment instructions:

SUBMIT COMMENTS

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 the Commission reviews the same project that is currently before FERC, and fully evaluates the impacts to the Delaware River Basin.

Looking forward to seeing you (virtually) on Wednesday, December 9 @ 7pm

October 2020 Report To Stakeholders

OCT. REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS

By SAVE CARBON COUNTY

PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 11/17/2020

The PennEast Pipeline project continues to be stalled with no progress in months.  The
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has yet to accept the inadequate
Environmental Assessment which was done for the Phase 1 Project (or the
Pennsylvania-Only version of this pipeline).  Save Carbon County and the Aquaschicola
Pohopoco Watershed Conservancy (APWC) are two local groups that filed a strong
statement protesting the inadequacy of the Environmental Assessment and demanding
a full Environmental Impact Statement.   You may recall that PennEast demanded that
the FERC fast-track their review of Phase 1 and complete their approval by October. 
PennEast wanted to begin cutting trees in November.  Under the Migratory Bird Treaty,
tree cutting is only allowed between November and March.  If they don’t get the trees
cut this year, they will be delayed another year.
 
The pipeline has also made no progress in their DEP approvals.  Two important permits
have yet to be granted.  They are the Chapter 102 Permit which concerns erosion and
sediment control and the Chapter 105 Permit which concerns water obstruction and
stream encroachment.  
 
Furthermore, they have not received a permit from the Delaware River Basin
Commission (DRBC).  Save Carbon County and APWC joined eight other grassroots
organizations in urging that the PennEast application to the DRBC be rejected due to the
many inaccuracies and misleading information contained in the application.  The DRBC
has yet to place the application on their agenda.
 
At the end of the day, “no progress” is a good outcome for the environment.


The Trump Administration wasted no time in punishing FERC Commissioner, Neil
Chatterjee for his support of carbon pricing.
Chatterjee has been removed from his
position as Chair of FERC. He stated that, “I have obviously been out there promoting a
conservative, market-based approach to carbon mitigation and sending signals the
commission is open to considering a carbon price, and perhaps that led to this.” He
continued, “…If, in fact, this was in retribution for my independence, I am quite proud of
that.” Carbon pricing would benefit renewable energy sources. The new Chairman is
James Danly whose chairmanship could be short-lived. President-Elect Biden can
appoint a new chairman without Senate approval. There are currently only three
members of FERC. A full complement is five commissioners.

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.”

September 2020 Report To Stakeholders

SEPT. REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS

By SAVE CARBON COUNTY

PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 10/1/2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is not only known for her record on Women’s and Civil Rights, but she
also left an important environmental legacy.
One of the often-cited decisions written by
Ginsburg for the majority is Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Environmental Services. The case
revolved around a wastewater treatment plant that had exceeded permit limits on mercury
discharges. One of the issues was whether the group of plaintiffs had “standing.” Ginsburg
wrote that they did have standing, not based on a personal injury per se, but on how the
pollution hampered their use of the river. Ginsburg wrote that the plaintiffs had standing,
“…the testimony presented by Friends of the Earth in this case assert that Laidlaw’s discharges
and the affiant members’ reasonable concerns about the effects of those discharges, directly
affected those affiants’ recreational, aesthetic, and economic interests,” Ginsburg wrote. The
Laidlaw decision is often used to give standing to groups who are not directly and personally
affected by environmental damage. Without standing, there is no means of redress through
the courts.


On Sept. 17th , the judge in the Constitution Pipeline eminent domain proceedings ordered
the reversal of condemnation orders
and the pipeline company was directed to ensure that
properties which were subject to eminent domain proceedings will have pipeline easements
removed from county property records. Property owners who accepted monies for their
easements (even though they were under threat of condemnation) will continue to have
pipeline easements through their property because they “voluntarily” entered into these
agreements. The Constitution Pipeline company is free to sell those easements for use by
other pipeline companies even though the Constitution Pipeline is now defunct. The
Constitution Pipeline was planned to begin in Pennsylvania and continue through New York
State but the pipeline was stopped when New York refused to grant permits under the Clean
Water Act.


Officials of the Marcellus Shale Coalition believe that litigation around the permitting of US
oil and gas projects has made the timing of financial returns for large capital investments
uncertain,
leading some companies to avoid pipeline projects. Recent appeals court rulings
have resulted in some significant setbacks for major oil and gas projects in the eastern U.S.
The officials cited the PennEast Pipeline loss at the Court of Appeals as an example. PennEast
has spent half a billion dollars and six years but has not yet begun construction. There have
been several recent rulings against pipeline builders that were also cited. My gosh we are sad
about this.


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.”

Positive News – September 23rd, 2020

POSITIVE NEWS

A dose of positive news today regarding easements for the now failed Constitution pipeline courtesy of our attorney, Anne Marie Garti.

“On September 17, the judge in the condemnation cases for the now dead Constitution Pipeline issued a decision and order dissolving BOTH orders he issued in 2015: Partial Summary Judgment (granting Constitution the right to take land for the Constitution Pipeline) and the Preliminary Injunction (granting immediate access to that land). He further ordered Constitution to record the decision and order in the Office of the County Clerk. That means the title to the properties will now be free of the pipeline easement.

Even though I only submitted briefs making these arguments on behalf of my clients, he applied his decision to all of the remaining condemnation cases.

However, this decision does not apply to the landowners who accepted money from Constitution for the easement. They made a binding agreement that travels with their deed to subsequent owners. Constitution can sell the easements without informing those landowners.

This outcome proves that the perseverance of landowners can pay off at the end of a successful fight against pipelines – but only if compensation has not been paid.”

If you have received compensation from PennEast, you should consult with your own attorneys as your terms may be unique to you alone.