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.

August 2020 Report To Stakeholders

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.”

September HALT Update – September 7th, 2020

FERC UPDATE

The FERC comment period is now closed. Our collective grassroots effort resulted in more than 500 comments being submitted! Thank you!

DRBC REMINDER AND INFORMATION

The next business meeting of the DRBC is on September 10th at 10:30am. All public comment speaking slots are now filled. You can still listen to the meeting as follows:

Instructions to Participate on September 10:

Also, you can register to be an interested party with DRBC regarding the PennEast application by providing your name, address and email information to penneastapp@drbc.gov or sending your contact information by mail to DRBC, Attn.: Project Review Section, P.O. Box 7360, 25 Cosey Road, West Trenton, NJ 08628. When registered, you will receive direct notice of information related to DRBC’s review, including the Notice of Application Received (NAR) and Public Hearing Notice, when issued. A formal public comment period, including details concerning the commission’s public hearings and methods for submitting written comments, will be announced upon publication of the draft docket.

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.

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO TO HELP STOP THE PIPELINE!

FERC Deadline Reminder – August 29th, 2020

DEADLINE TO SUBMIT COMMENTS TO FERC IS WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2!

As a reminder, we have until Sept. 2nd to make comments on the inadequate Phase I Environmental Assessment (EA) but do it soon and make more than one comment!

Below are 4 comment options and directions on ways to comment.  Do not worry about being original and repeating the comments of others. Every comment to the docket shows that we are watching and are aware of FERC’s actions. If possible, please send the 4 comments separately.  The more comments submitted the better. 

WHAT TO SAY :  Below are the sample comments (free to copy all or parts of and use as your own).  Also, please ask that the comment period be extended to the end of September in every comment.

Comment Option 1

Your Commission has provided inadequate opportunity for public information and public comment concerning this project. No workshops nor public hearings have been held either in person or virtually. Hard copies of the EA have not been mailed to intervenors and all information must be obtained online which is difficult for older impacted individuals and landowners who may not be computer literate. The pandemic has added to the difficulties of obtaining information on this rather confusing project because local organizations cannot fill the void to provide in-person meetings. In light of the foregoing, your Commission must do more to provide information to intervenors and the public and you must extend the comment period to the end of September.

Comment Option 2

The purpose and need portion of this EA simply parrots that used in the original certificated project. Clearly, this is not adequate. This pipeline has a different terminus and cannot serve the same purpose as the original project. Further, this project has subscriptions for only 52% of the pipeline capacity and those subscriptions are self-dealing partners of the PennEast project. The competitive market has shown no interest in this project and these circumstances undercut the purpose and need cited in the original project. It has been six years since the original project was proposed and your Commission should insist on a thorough investigation of the need for this new project in the context of today’s facts. The energy market has changed, and other pipelines have been completed and enlarged to serve the customers of this pipeline. There must be a thorough and honest review of the purpose and need for this Phase I project.

Comment Option 3

The proposed Environmental Assessment (EA) violates the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Natural Gas Act because the EA is too narrowly focused on the Church St. Interconnect and fails to consider the full impacts of and alternatives to, building both phases of the project, which FERC defines as the purpose and need. Furthermore, FERC does not have the jurisdiction to amend the original certificate, as that jurisdiction rests with the D.C. Circuit of the US Court of Appeals.

Comment Option 4

This comment is in regard to PennEast (Docket CP-20-47-000) Proposal to segment their pipeline by building it in two stages, claiming that the first stage for which they are requesting approval is a stand-alone project.

If this segment is a stand-alone project, then it is a different project altogether and cannot be approved by FERC under the original Conditional Certificate. It has to be submitted as a new project starting from scratch.

If it is not a stand-alone project it and is dependent on the second phase of the proposed pipeline it cannot be approved by FERC because it is the illegal segmentation of the project.

Either way you look at it, it’s another one of PennEast’s attempts to circumvent the law and the rights of the people.

HOW TO COMMENT:   There are three easy ways to comment on the EA.

  1. The first online option is to go to FercOnline.gov and pick “ecomment” from the blue menu on the left of the screen. Fill in your personal information in the blanks and type in the authorization code (which will be provided) and click “authorize.” FERC will send an email to you with a link to click to permit you to write a comment. You will need to enter a docket number which is CP20-47, click search and the PennEast project will appear on the chart with a blue X beside it. Click the blue X. A screen will appear for your personal information which you fill in. And then (last step) paste your comment into the comment field and click “send comment” at the bottom of the page.
  1. If you have registered as an intervenor, you can go to FERC online and choose “Log In” from the blue menu on the left and then continue as directed above.

Note: It is best to type up your comment before going onto the FERC website. Copy your comment and then paste it into the comment box at FERC online (following the directions above). FERC is notorious for closing out your access in the middle of typing in a comment.

  1. And, you can always send your comment via the postal service but be aware that the mail has slowed by at least a week.

Send your comment to Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First St. NE, Room 1A, Washington, D.C. 20426. Be sure and reference the docket number (CP20-4700) in your comment.

“COMING SOON”

The recording of the August 26 Virtual Member Meeting, attended by 20 members by video and phone, will be coming soon to our website. https://haltpenneast.org/

August HALT Update – August 12th, 2020

August HALT Update

There are three key actions included in this newsletter. 1) Members’ Meeting, 2) FERC Comments due September 2nd for Phase 1, 3) DRBC upcoming public meeting on September 10th with public comments available for PennEast application.

MEMBER’S MEETING

It has been a long hot summer this year, take a break, and join us for a virtual member’s meeting on Wednesday, August 26th at 7pm. We will be jointly hosting our meeting with our friends at NJCF. A reminder email and agenda will follow separately.

To join the meeting:

SCOTUS

The Supreme Court has requested an opinion from the US Solicitor General’s Office regarding the eminent domain case brought by PennEast. The Court is now in summer recess and we expect to hear further in the fall with two possible outcomes: 1) The Supreme Court accepts the case in which case they will not likely hear arguments until 2021; or 2) The Supreme Court refuses to accept the case and the lower court’s ruling will stand and PennEast will not be able to cross 41 New Jersey owned or controlled properties.

FERC/Phase 1 – Pennsylvania Update:

Linda Christman of Save Carbon County has provided the following update from Pennsylvania:

“Dear Regional Leaders: On July 24th, PennEast sent a whiny letter to FERC demanding that the commission hurry up with the Environmental Assessment for the new Phase I pipeline. Instead of being annoyed, FERC responded like the industry puppet that it is and issued the assessment yesterday. They, of course, found “no significant” environmental impact to the proposed PA-only pipeline.

We have until Sept. 2nd to comment.

SUGGESTED COMMENT LANGUAGE: FERC’s action violates NEPA and the Natural Gas Act because the Environmental Assessment too narrowly focuses on the Church Street Interconnect and fails to consider the full impacts of, and alternatives to, building both phases of the project, which FERC defines as the purpose and need. Furthermore, FERC doesn’t have the jurisdiction to amend the original certificate, as that jurisdiction rests with the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

HOW TO COMMENT:  For your convenience, there are three methods you can use to submit your comments to the Commission. The Commission encourages electronic filing of comments and has staff available to assist you at (866) 208-3676 or FercOnlineSupport@ferc.gov.

Please carefully follow these instructions so that your comments are properly recorded.

1) You can file your comments electronically using the eComment feature on the Commission’s website (www.ferc.gov) under the link to FERC Online. This is an easy method for submitting brief, text-only comments on a project;

2) You can also file your comments electronically using the eFiling feature on the Commission’s website (www.ferc.gov) under the link to FERC Online. With eFiling, you can provide comments in a variety of formats by attaching them as a file with your submission. New eFiling users must first create an account by clicking on “eRegister.” You must select the type of filing you are making. If you are filing a comment on a particular project, please select “Comment on a Filing”; or

3) You can file a paper copy of your comments by mailing them to the following address using the U.S. Postal Service. Be sure to reference the project docket number (CP20-47-000) with your submission: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426 NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426. Submissions sent through carriers other than the U.S. Postal Service must be sent to 12225 Wilkins Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20852 for processing.

FERC_Notice of Availability of the Environmental Assessment for the
Proposed PennEast 2020 Amendment Project re PennEast Pipeline
Company, LLC under CP20-47.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20200803-3048

FERC_Environmental Assessment Report for PennEast Pipeline Company
LLC’s PennEast 2020 Amendment Project under CP20-47.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20200803-3033

Something to Cheer You Up (courtesy of Vince DiBianca). Do you realize that in order to complete their original pipeline plans, PennEast must accomplish at least five pretty difficult tasks: (1) They must get the Supreme Court to take up the case they lost to the State of New Jersey. (2) They must win their argument before the Supreme Court (3) They must gain approval from the New Jersey DEP (4) They must obtain a permit/docket from the DRBC (5) They must prevail in the pending case that awaits them in the 3rd Circuit. The opposition (that’s us) only has to keep them from accomplishing one of those tasks.

If we want to keep them from building the PA-only pipeline, we have four options: (1) get DRBC to disapprove the pipeline (2) have the 3rd Circuit approve the pending HALT suit against FERC (3) bring a another successful suit against a FERC approval of the Phase I pipeline (4) stall the project long enough that the lousy energy market catches up with them. We have a lot of options to stop this entire pipeline. And one of the reasons we have options is your continued opposition. We have put ourselves in a winnable position through your hard work and never giving up.

DRBC Update:

DRBC’s next public meeting is Thursday, September 10th. We need EVERYONE who wants to see this project stopped to show up (virtually) and speak out before and during the meetings. HALT members who choose to speak should use the opportunity to (1) urge the Commission to direct their staff to meet with Mike Spille and concerned citizens who oppose the pipeline. Mike Spille submitted a very comprehensive critique of the PennEast application signed by 13 grass-roots organizations. The Commission staff has met with PennEast representatives and the same opportunity should be given to opponents. (2) urge the Commission to insist on a complete and accurate resubmittal of the PennEast application.

You MUST pre-register to speak at this meeting using the following link. HALT members who secure a ticket to speak at the Sept. 10th meeting should let Gary/Daria know by emailing: info@haltpenneast.org

To Secure a Position to Comment during Open Public Comment:

Instructions to Participate in the meeting on September 10:

July 2020 Report To Stakeholders

JULY REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS

By SAVE CARBON COUNTY

PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 8/1/2020

PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro has issued a Grand Jury Report that concludes that
Pennsylvania regulatory agencies have failed to protect the public from the negative
impacts of fracking for gas.
The report says that the gas drilling industry has been
allowed to poison the air and water while “…giant fracking companies were given a free
pass by unprepared [regulatory] agencies and the public was harmed. Plain and simple.”
Witnesses from 70 households, mostly in the rural parts of the state, told of being left
with sores after showering with contaminated water, seeing farm animals die or
become infertile and children with a wide array of health problems. The jury concluded
the industry is making children sick, listing rashes, headaches, nose bleeds, bruising,
cramps, nausea, vomiting, burning eyes, tremors and burning sensations. Today, there
are over 10,000 active gas wells in the state.

The PennEast company has reluctantly agreed to submit to the authority of the
Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC).
They submitted their application to the
DRBC mid-May and opponents submitted a 42-page review of application in June. The
review lists over 32 misstatements or inaccuracies in the PennEast submittal. Save
Carbon County and HALT were two of 18 organizations that signed onto the critique of
the application.

Global emissions of methane (the main component of natural gas) soared to a record
high in 2017, the most recent year for which worldwide data is available.
Researchers
warned that the rise is driven by fossil fuel leaks and agriculture. These findings,
published on 7/14/20 in two scientific journals, underscore how methane presents a
growing threat, even as the world finds some success in reducing carbon dioxide
emissions, the most abundant greenhouse gas. While methane is a relatively clean fuel
when burned, it is a potent greenhouse gas when leaked. Leaked methane warms the
earth 86 times as much as carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Some of the main
sources of methane are leaks from pipelines, oil and gas wells, landfills and livestock like
cattle and sheep which burp copious amounts of methane (no kidding). Coal mining is
also a major source because methane is released from deep within the rock as a
byproduct of the mining process. The proposed Kidder Compressor station is slated to
leak over 100,000 tons of methane each year.

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.”