Sept 2019 Report To Stakeholders

SEPT. REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS

By SAVE CARBON COUNTY

PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 9/29/2019

The big news:  On September 10th, a three-judge panel of the 3rd District Appeals Court, overturned an earlier ruling and upheld the State of New Jersey’s appeal.  New Jersey had argued that PennEast, as a private company, did not have the right to use Eminent Domain to take easements across state-owned or state-conserved properties.  New Jersey argued that under the Constitution, the State has sovereign rights that cannot be usurped by a private company.  If the ruling stands, it means that PennEast will not be able to cross approximately 75 state owned or conserved properties.  This leaves PennEast with some difficult choices: (1) major rerouting of the project around these properties with the huge delays that would be involved or (2) appeal to the Supreme Court which takes less than 3% of the cases presented.  The ruling by the District Court is in line with another recent ruling in favor of the State of Maryland versus a pipeline company seeking to take easements from state properties.  Since this ruling was by a three-judge panel of the Court, the first move for PennEast will probably be to ask for all nine judges of the Court to consider the case.  I am told that it is very likely the Court will agree to a full-panel hearing.

In the meantime, all of the impacted landowners and pipeline fighters are enjoying the win.

Last month PennEast resubmitted their application to NJDEP.  This month, it was again rejected by NJDEP for a lack of information. 

The Fourth Annual Pipeline Blowout, hosted by Roy and Linda Christman, is scheduled for October 27th at the Big Creek Grange near Beltzville State Park.  The party will begin at 1PM and end at 2:30PM.  There will be good food, drinks, desserts and a live bluegrass band to entertain.  We will also have a few speeches, a basket auction, and activities for the kids.  You are cordially invited.  The event is free.

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.”

NJDEP Denied PennEast’s Submitted Application–Oct 11th 2019

MORE GOOD NEWS!

October 11, 2019

Yesterday, the NJDEP denied PennEast’s recently submitted application citing the US Court of Appeals decision to vacate the orders of condemnation for forty-nine properties where the state of NJ has property ownership interests.

The letter states that the PennEast application cannot be deemed “administratively complete” because PennEast now lacks the authority to submit the application. It goes on to say, “Given this fundamental deficiency, the NJDEP hereby rejects and administratively closes the Application”. “The application is denied without prejudice and as a result, no application for a Freshwater Wetlands Individual Permit and Water Quality Certificate is currently pending in any form before the NJDEP”. Finally, the letter states, “The Department shall take no further action on this application.”

This decision means that this application cannot be resubmitted without PennEast having legal authority to these 49 properties. This is great news for homeowners and we applaud the NJDEP for its diligent and swift decision.

We are aware that the battle to halt this pipeline will likely continue. PennEast may attempt to overturn the Court’s decision by requesting an “en banc” rehearing with the Third Circuit (which is a request for a full panel rehearing and reconsideration of the decision made by the 3 judge panel). These requests are sometimes granted under special circumstances. In due time, PennEast may also petition the Supreme Court to hear this case. They may try to litigate in state court. PennEast has already contacted FERC in an attempt to enlist the support of FERC with their legal dilemma. Who knows what PennEast will try next?

All that said, impacted homeowners, their neighbors and allies have never been in a stronger position! And, we are not going away. We will keep you apprised of developments.

Tell NJDEP to Reject PennEast Now!–September 18th 2019

Tell NJDEP to Reject PennEast Now!

Last week, a federal court ruled that PennEast Pipeline cannot seize NJ state-owned land to build its proposed pipeline including all of the preserved farmsinterspersed throughout their route.

This is a big blow to PennEast!

However, the fight is not yet over. Impacted homeowners, their friends and neighbors are requesting action by petitioning the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).

This Petition, already signed by over 4,300 New Jerseyans, tells NJDEP to reject PennEast’s pipeline permit outright because it cannot meet New Jersey’s strict environment requirements under the Clean Water Act. (NJDEP has issued a deficiency letter to PennEast stating that their application is “not administratively complete” however, the application can be resubmitted by PennEast.) 

You can help by taking one or more of these steps:

  • Sign the petition today, if you haven’t.
  • Have other members of your household sign the petition.
  • Forward this email to your friends, neighbors and others in NJ asking them to sign.
  • Copy and paste the following to your Facebook page: 
    Fact: New Jersey has more than enough pipelines to meet demand for natural gas. Fact: The PennEast pipeline threatens the drinking water of over a million New Jerseyans.  Stand up for facts: Urge the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to stop the PennEast pipeline once and for all: https://www.greenactions.org/stop-penneast?            sc=halt

SIGN PETITION NOW

Putting Together Our Game Plan — August 29th 2019

PUTTING TOGETHER OUR GAME PLAN

August 29, 2019

We have always said we would reach a crucial juncture when the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection faces the approval of the proposed PennEast Pipeline! Now is the time for us to take the action to halt this unneeded and harmful proposal and bring our communities the victory for which we have all fought so long and hard.

Getting our Act Together

New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF) and HALT will be meeting with federal, state and local community leaders; Citizens Against the Pipeline groups (CAPS); our environmental allies and other friends to coordinate collective actions.

Update on PennEast Application Submission

The next critical step is for NJDEP to formally acknowledge receipt of the PennEast application on their website bulletin, which hasn’t happened yet. The next NJDEP bulletin is scheduled on September 4. We will advise you if the announcement occurs then. Whenever the announcement occurs, it will be the start of a 30 day public comment period. However, several groups are likely to ask for an additional 30 day extension or more. 

Homeowner and Citizen Comments to NJDEP

Once the NJDEP formal announcement occurs, homeowners and citizens are encouraged to send multiple letters to NJDEP voicing their concerns and opposition either on-line or in the mail (addresses will be provided). These emails/letters should cover property-specific matters, as well as, general issues of a substantive nature. HALT members will receive a sample list of hard-hitting general talking-points that could be included in your comments. 

In order to get property specific information, at present, homeowners can:

Please include in your communications a statement written in your own words, which encourages NJDEP to reject the application outright. Sample statement: NJDEP has sufficient data on wildlife and water impacts in the record submitted by outside experts showing that the project can’t meet NJ’s strict environmental standards and must be denied.”

Homeowner Activities and Other News

  • Send multiple comments to NJDEP (see above).
  • Sign the online petition to tell the NJDEP to reject permits for PennEast. Link: https://www.greenactions.org/stop-penneast?sc=halt
  • Join your friends and neighbors who have been working as one against the PennEast project at a rally and picnic event on September 15, noon to 3pm at Cavallo Park, Mt. Hope Street, Lambertville. This event, hosted by NJ Sierra Club, is a celebration for the family of PennEast-fighters and a call-to-arms for us to continue our efforts to stop the dangerous and unnecessary pipeline! There will be speakers and we encourage everyone to bring a picnic lunch and join us. RSVP:taylor.mcfarland@sierraclub.org  Facebook Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/376592206338282/
  • Celebrate a U.S District Court decision which found in favor of the State of Maryland over the Columbia Gas Line. This suit is based on the same grounds that NJ argued against PennEast. That is, a private enterprise cannot seize state lands based on the principle of sovereign immunity. This decision sets a strong precedent for other courts to consider, such as the NJ Third Circuit Court. See video with homeowner response: https://www.facebook.com/easternpanhandleprotectors/videos/509198149831796/UzpfSTE1NjgxNjk2ODY6Vks6MjM0MzU2ODk4NTg4NDgxNQ/

STAY TUNED AND KEEP YOUR NEIGHBORS INFORMED

Happy Labor Day Weekend

August 2019 Report To Stakeholders

AUGUST REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS

By SAVE CARBON COUNTY

PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 9/3/2019

PennEast resubmitted its application for a certification under the Clean Water Act to the New Jersey DEP on August 8thThe Department will review the application for 20 days for “completeness” and then open the application to public comment for 30 days minimum.  The public comment period may well be extended as many comments from the public are expected. Once the comment period is completed, the Department may deny the application which would mean that the PennEast pipeline is defeated for all practical purposes.  This is the beginning of the final chapter of the PennEast saga.

PennEast has also submitted its application to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC).  This application is expected to be on the docket for the December meeting of the Commission.   A denial by DRBC could also spell the end of the project.

In the meantime, Pres. Trump has issued an executive order directing the EPA to rewrite Clean Water Regulations to limit the ability of states and tribes to block pipelines to protect locally significant waters.  The rule change is to be finalized by May 2020 but will face court challenges.

On August 21st, a federal court denied Columbia Gas the right to move forward with construction of a gas pipeline through public land in Maryland.  The pipeline company had filed suit against the state of Maryland to force access to the Maryland Rail Trail, a state-owned park.  The company argued by virtue of the permit granted to it by the FERC that it was empowered to use Eminent Domain to seize right of way from Maryland.  This is the same argument PennEast is making in New Jersey. The judge denied Columbia Gas injunctive relief because they found that private industry does not have the right to file an eminent domain case against the state because the state has sovereign immunity.  The state of New Jersey is also arguing it is protected from eminent domain proceedings because the state has “sovereign immunity.” The Maryland case is a positive precedent from the point of view of New Jersey

While the PennEast company is officially proclaiming that they will begin construction in 2020, the Quarterly Financial  Report from one of the partners does not bear that out.  New Jersey Resources which is a 20% partner in the PennEast company, is showing the largest share of construction costs occurring in 2021.  Save Carbon County and other concerned citizens’ groups closely monitor quarterly filings for all of the PennEast partners because “money talks, and you know what walks.”

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.”

PennEast Application Resubmitted to NJDEP — August 12th 2019

On Thursday August 9, 2019., PennEast resubmitted a permit application for their proposed pipeline to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. NJDEP previously rejected PennEast’s original filing in February 2018. 

The reapplication was long overdue, in large part, due to strong community opposition and inability to gain access to impacted properties, which created setbacks for PennEast and resulted in significant delay to their planned timetable.

If NJDEP accepts this submission as being complete, which it hasn’t yet, then it will begin its scrutiny against NJ environmental policies and laws. HALT and its allies are confident that this proposed pipeline ultimately will not meet the strict standards and specifications required under New Jersey law.  Likewise, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation believes that NJDEP will have all the evidence it needs to determine that this damaging project cannot meet the state’s stringent environmental regulations.

PennEast Sent an Inaccurate and Misleading Letter to Impacted Homeowners 

As has been common behavior on PennEast’s part, a misleading letter was sent out to homeowners on Saturday, just one or two days after the application was sent to NJDEP. In that letter, PennEast told homeowners to send responses within 15 days of the date of the letter. 

The strong implication that homeowners only had 15 days to respond was blatantly untrue, misleading and unprofessional on the part of PennEast.

PennEast’s shameful behavior, once again, contradicts PennEast’s repetitive PR claims of fair treatment, forthright communications and good relations with impacted homeowners.

Again, it is our understanding, that NJDEP hasn’t even formally acknowledged receipt of a complete application yet. Homeowners and their supporters will have more than adequate time to respond. In fact, NJDEP will provide a detailed process and timetable for public review including hearings. 

HALT will verify it’s understanding of the review process with NJDEP officials and will inform its members, as soon as possible.

The PennEast Proposed Pipeline Remains FAR from being Accepted and Approved.

HALT reminds people of these essential facts:

  • The application will be scrutinized against rigorous state requirements by the NJDEP and then the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). Again, we believe that there will be sufficient data to indicate that these requirements will not be met by PennEast. A denial would likely stop the pipeline from being built.
  • The New Jersey Attorney General’s office has a case before the US Third Circuit Court urging it to undo the decision that allows PennEast to seize state-owned land including land on preserved farms. If won by NJ, this would likely to be a major setback for PennEast.
  • Six appellants, including the state of NJ, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Homeowners Against Land Taking (HALT) have appealed FERC’s flawed certificate for PennEast in the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. This case is scheduled to be heard on October 4, in DC. 
    • HALT contends that FERC illegally issued a certificate that grants the right of eminent domain before required agencies made their decisions. PennEast should not have been allowed to take our land before it is known if the pipeline will be built. We contend that taking our land now denies us due process. If this case is won, the decision would likely be a death-blow for the PennEast proposal.

Actions for Homeowners and their Supporters

Over the next several days and weeks, HALT members and supporters will be notified of plans and specific actions they can take to express their views and demonstrate their support to ensure NJDEP and others deliver on their responsibilities. 

Next Step — Attend 11 am Tuesday Press Conference

ReThink Energy is holding a press conference at the Watershed at 31 Titus Mill Road, Pennington, NJ at 11 am on Tuesday, August 13, 2019. Several officials will be in attendance to express opposition to this pipeline. Please come show your support for our community and opposition to this project!

Next HALT Member Meeting is being organized – members will be informed of the date within the next few days.

As things continue to unfold, HALT is committed to ensuring that NJDEP does its job by having homeowner voices heard and by presenting on-the-ground data showing misrepresentations and missing information in the application. Gratefully, our homeowner group is supported by many federal, state and local government officials, community groups and environmental allies.

We will stay the course with facts and fervor!