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!

Meeting Highlights — June 19th 2019

Cause for Encouragement!

On Wednesday, June 19, about 35 homeowners met with 4 presenters to discuss encouraging news.

The mantra of the meeting was “We are stopping this pipeline through our collective staying power”. Staying power which includes doing our homework, working with our many allies and communicating our findings and concerns to governmental authorities.

Here are some meeting “highlights”:

  • Young Voices of Encouragement. The meeting began with a 3 min clip by high school student, Yasemin Cag. (Full video called “Another Fracking’ Pipeline” is on the HALT website.) Homeowner attorney, Tim Duggan was featured who emphasized that the combined impact of PennEast’s highly environmentally-sensitive proposed path and the lack of proven need are key reasons for authorities to reject their application.
  • A New Scientific Risk to our Water has been identified. We had a short hard-hitting presentation by Dr Julia Barringer, retired senior scientistat theUS Geological Survey Agency. What her research has surfaced – besides the real threat of arsenic contamination – is an additional risk of radiation release from radon abundant in the rock bed in our area. This important fact has not been revealed by PennEast and will be added to our substantive list of technical reasons for not approving this pipeline.
  • Learnings from Mariner Pipeline – Eve Miari, Advocacy Coordinator, Clean Air Council gave a sobering presentation of the many broken promises and real damages to homes, neighborhoods, and water supply being caused by the Mariner Pipeline in nearby Pennsylvania. These were striking and attention-getting including the actual negative impact that horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is having on water contamination and the eruption of many destructive sink-holes occurring throughout the pipeline’s path. The Mariner fight is not over and we will use these learnings in our fight against PennEast.
  • Update on Eminent Domain case. Homeowner attorney, Tim Duggan said there was a Case Management Conference scheduled on June 24, 2019 to discuss the next steps in the case. Subsequently, the judge cancelled the meeting. Homeowners will be advised by their attorneys if the CMC is rescheduled and/or when the proposed discovery and hearing Order is entered. Also, Mr. Duggan mentioned that we are waiting for a decision from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on the State’s appeal of the illegality of private industry taking state land (see below).
  • Recent Eye-opening Developments. Tom Gilbert from the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF) detailed 3 important recent events which will help us defeat PennEast:
  • On June 10th, NJ Assistant Attorney General Jeremy Fiegenbaum and attorneys for PennEast presented oral arguments before the 3rd Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. The assistant AG very effectively argued the State’s case that NJ and other states are immune from having their lands condemned by a private pipeline company under the 11th Amendment to the Constitution regarding the sovereign immunity of states. The panel of three judges seemed receptive to the State’s arguments. If the court rules in favor of the state, this will present a significant hurdle for PennEast regarding the more than 40 state properties that PennEast is seeking to condemn.
  • ​​​​​Earlier this month, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) denied multiple permits for the Transco NESE pipeline proposed to go under the Raritan Bay. In their decision, NJDEP used authority that we haven’t seen it exercise before, citing the company’s failure to show that wetlands and water resources won’t be harmed, the lack of a full alternatives’ analysis, and no public need/ public interest in NJ for the project. This bodes extremely well for PennEast opponents seeking denial of permits on similar grounds.
  • ​​​​​​​​Two Mondays ago, the NJ Board of Public Utilities released their draft energy master plan to achieve 100% clean energy. The draft plan emphasizes renewables, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and the electrification of building heating (which currently is heavily reliant on gas). The NJBPU suggests this will all lead to a dramatic reduction in reliance on fossil fuels. A project like PennEast is very inconsistent with these goals and policies.

We are encouraged and at the same time remain vigilant to stay the course!

July 2019 Report To Stakeholders

JULY REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS

By SAVE CARBON COUNTY

PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 7/31/2019

Save Carbon County has been approved for a $1,000 Sierra Club grant to help fund our efforts in fighting the pipeline.  Over the four years of our existence, Save Carbon County has been fortunate to have received grants from the Sierra Club and from the Mountain Watershed Association (based in the Pittsburg area).  These grants have meant that we have been able to continue our work without expending extraordinary time and effort in fundraising.

A new legal battle over the power of pipeline companies to seize private property before they pay for the property made its way to the Supreme Court last week.  Pipeline companies typically use a process called “quick take” to obtain private property for their projects.  Under this process, the companies take possession of the private property before a price has been agreed upon and before the land is paid for.  As you can imagine, the landowner is put at a severe disadvantage by this process.  This is the process being used to obtain land for the PennEast project. The Supreme Court will decide in October if they will hear the case.  The Court only takes about 1% of the cases it receives.

A lawsuit taking issue with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval process is making its way through the court system and is now in the D.C. District Court.  This case argues that  FERC should have considered  the downstream environmental impacts of its approval of PennEast; that FERC may not consider all pipelines a “public benefit”; that FERC failed to weigh alternatives prior to issuance of the PennEast certificate; and that FERC should not have conferred the power of Eminent Domain to PennEast until all permits were granted.  PennEast still lacks a Clean Water Certificate from New Jersey, permits from the Delaware River Basin Commission, and has not received permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency. They have also not received a permit to construct the Kidder Compressor Station. The six petitioners associated with the lawsuit include the State of New Jersey, The Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Homeowners Against Land Takings (HALT).  HALT is a homeowner group that works closely with Save Carbon County.

Another month—another pipeline explosion.  A regional gas line exploded early Thursday in Kentucky.  The pipeline stretches more than 9,000 miles from the Mexican border to New York City and is owned  by the Enbridge Co. Everything within 500 yards of the explosion was destroyed including nine homes.  One person was killed and five were injured. This same pipeline exploded in January in Ohio. The pipeline is 30 inches in diameter and under pressure.  The PennEast pipeline is proposed to be 36 inches in diameter and under 1480 psi of pressure. The blast zone for the PennEast pipeline is 955 yards in all directions.  

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

June 2019 Report To Stakeholders

JUNE REPORT TO CARBON COUNTY STAKEHOLDERS

By SAVE CARBON COUNTY

PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 7/1/2019

Here’s a 7 ft. scarecrow on our PA Preserved Farm!

When we started our efforts to defeat PennEast, we hoped that delays in the project would provide time for the market for gas to plunge.  That seems to be happening.  According to the New York Times, two factors seem to be driving gas and oil prices down.  The first is an oversupply of oil and gas on a worldwide scale.  Even as the U.S.A. has become the largest producer of oil and gas, the value of oil and gas shares as a percentage of the S&P 500 has dropped about 4.6%.  The United States is now the largest producer of oil and gas in the world, and that huge increase in production has created a glut on the market and simultaneously reduced the clout of organizations like the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).  OPEC once kept prices high by controlling production but the U.S. doesn’t participate in OPEC and doesn’t regulate supply. A second factor in the downturn in fossil fuel values has been the growing concern over climate change. Investors are concerned about oil and gas companies spending money on something that will be in decline.  Industry analysts are now predicting consolidation of fossil fuel companies as fewer companies are able to generate enough revenue to sustain their business. My fingers are crossed.

Explosions ripped through a South Philadelphia refinery on June 21st triggering a major fire and injuring five.  The refinery was the site of a smaller fire on June 10th that was quickly contained.  The refinery is the oldest on the East Coast and emerged from bankruptcy last year but continues to struggle under heavy debt.  A University of Pennsylvania report in September warned that the refinery complex may be shut down in the next few years and that the city should be prepared to deal with a 1,300-acre industrial property fouled by more than a century of fuel production.  Similar challenges are apt to affect many municipalities and states if the continued decline in oil and gas prices lead to the abandonment of assets like refineries and pipelines.

In advance of a decision by the Delaware River Basin Commission and the State of New Jersey permitting the PennEast Pipeline, a new report finds that gas pipelines and their associated infrastructure (including the Kidder Compressor Station) can result in significant costs.  The report states that the cost to the Delaware River Basin could be as much as $2.4 billion for two pipelines alone.  The report was prepared by Cadmus Group LLC, an independent technical consultancy and commissioned by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.  The report focused on the proposed PennEast pipeline and the existing Mariner East 2 and Mariner East 2X pipelines– two of the numerous pipelines planned for the basin.  Quantifiable costs include loss of ecosystem services, greenhouse gas emissions, lost recreation days resulting from pipeline construction and lost investment in lands protected by public acquisition or conservation easements.  Tom Gilbert, Director of the Foundation stated, “No one has ever put these numbers in one place and doing so tells a powerful story of the magnitude of harm that our region faces from pipelines.”  Very real, important costs that could not be monetized include water quality degradation or procurement of new sources, stream quality and aquatic habitat degradation, loss of property value, and construction impacts such as noise and aesthetics.

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.”

Governor Murphy & NJDEP Deny Permits To Build Contested Pipeline — June 8th 2019

Governor Murphy & NJDEP Deny Permits To Build Contested Pipeline — June 8th 2019

Support New Jersey LCV

BREAKING: The Murphy administration just denied Williams Transco key permits to build a hotly contested pipeline and gas compressor station in Central New Jersey that could have polluted our air and threatened our clean waterways.

Let’s make sure that Governor Murphy and NJDEP know that New Jerseyans fully support their decision to put the health of our communities first.

SAY THANKS

GREAT NEWS! Last night, Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) denied several key permits for the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project, a dirty pipeline and gas compressor station that could have put the health and safety of New Jerseyans at risk.

Thousands of community members, elected officials, and local environmental groups spoke up and worked for years to block NESE, and last night’s victory wouldn’t have been possible without all of those voices speaking out.

The Murphy administration faced tremendous pressure from Williams Transco officials who repeatedly downplayed the project’s threats to our health, air quality, and water supply – and Williams has already vowed to re-apply. Let’s make sure that Governor Murphy and NJDEP hear loud and clear that New Jerseyans applaud their decision to put our families and clean energy future first so that they keep standing with us.

Thank Governor Murphy and NJDEP for denying key permits for William Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhancement project >>

We’ve said time and time again how terrible the NESE project could be for our communities and the environment. The pipeline could seriously pollute the Raritan Bay, and the compressor station alone could emit toxins and cancer-causing chemicals into the air that can travel for miles and settle into the ground where our children play. On top of that, the project would perpetuate our dependence on dirty fossil fuels that threaten our health and climate and prevent us from making progress towards a clean energy future.

Since day one, Governor Murphy has outlined his plans for putting New Jersey on a path to realize 100% clean energy by 2050 and ensuring that New Jersey regains its title as a national leader in addressing the climate crisis. With last night’s action, the governor sent a clear message that New Jersey is strongly committed to ensuring a healthy environment for our families and supporting the good local jobs that will be created as we move toward a clean energy future and economy.

But Williams isn’t giving up. That’s why our immediate next step is to send a clear THANK YOU message to the governor and NJDEP, and tell them when Williams submits its next application, community members will keep fighting this project no matter what.

Add your name to thank the Murphy administration for protecting our communities by rejecting Williams Transco’s dirty pipeline project and gas compressor station >>

Thanks for standing with us in the fight for our clean energy future.

Support New Jersey League of Conservation Voters

Ed Potosnak
Executive Director, New Jersey LCV