Arguments have just begun in the DC Court of Appeals. The State of NJ has offered arguments stating that PennEast, a privat company, does not have the right to use eminent domain against state held lands. Other plaintiffs, including NJCF, The Watershed Institute, HALT, The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and Hopewell Township, are invovled in the DC COurt of Appeals case challenging the FERC decision of need and public interest. To stay current and follow the lasted news, got to ReThink Energy NJ
A bit of history….On Friday ,February 16th, 2018, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) once again added their voice to our cause, filing a request asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to hold a rehearing and issue a stay on the use of eminent domain until that hearing is held.
The NJ Rate Counsel also filed for a rehearing. The NJDEP and the Rate Counsel join over a dozen other parties that have filed requests for a rehearing, including:
- Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission,
- Hopewell Township
- New Jersey Conservation Foundation
- Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Assosciation
- Delaware Riverkeeper Network,
- Sierra Club of New Jersey,
- New Jersey Natural Lands Trust,
- And many Landowners and other townships
After initialing ordering a “tolling order” of these legal requests, FERC denied the rehearing request. That opened the door for the state of NJ and plaintiffs, including Hopewell Township, to file an appeal with the DC Court of Appeals. That appeal has begun and arguments are in the process of being heard.
To stay current with court news, go to ReThink Energy NJ for the latest information.
REMEMBER, the state of NJ still has the power to stop this project. The pipeline still has to meet all of the regulatory permitting requirements of other agencies before the project can be constructed. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), and the United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) all have the power to stop this project. The current administration is standing with us, taking action to fight and understands that this project isn’t good for NJ!
Eminent Domain – Yes, it’s true…
About 150 properties, that’s homeowners, Towns (including Hopewell Township), Counties, NJCF, and even the State of New Jersey lost in court over eminent domain. We applaud all of these brave individuals and groups for standing strong. Taking land for an unneeded pipeline for nothing more than private profit is wrong. Taking permanent eminent domain easements from homeowners and taxpayers for a pipeline that will certainly reroute and most likely never get it’s permits and be stopped is insanity. This pipeline will continue to be fought hard in the DC court of appeals and of course at the NJDEP!
ReThink Energy NJ: New Electronic Letter Service Available
Dear CAP and HALT Friends,
Some of you have already noticed and posted on your social media and websites, but we wanted to make it official and let you know that ReThink Energy NJ now has an ongoing electronic letter service available on its site that contact Governor Murphy, the NJDEP, and your elected officials. There is room for a personalized letter as well. As circumstances invariably alter, we can adapt the message to meet new communications needs quickly.
We’re posting this on Facebook and Twitter as well as in our newsletters
Take two minutes and tell your elected officials to reject PennEast: Speak Out!
HOPEWELL: Township officials lawyer up to challenge PennEast application approval
By Frank Mustac, Special Writer
CentralJersey.com, Wednesday, May 11, 2016 — Hopewell Township Mayor Kevin Kuchinski was among a group of bipartisan elected officials who joined conservation leaders and citizens’ groups at the State Capitol in Trenton on Tuesday, morning May 10 to announce the results of a regional petition opposing the proposed 118-mile PennEast natural gas pipeline.
The petition received more than 8,000 signatures from citizens across 2,000 zip codes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to the Hopewell Township Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline. The non-profit organization was also represented at the event held on the steps of the State House in Trenton. More
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New Jersey Conservation Foundation Calls on FERC to Halt Review and Investigate Claims
FAR HILLS, N.J. (March 11, 2016) — PennEast’s claims that its proposed pipeline is needed to supply New Jersey with additional natural gas capacity and will reduce gas prices for consumers are not substantiated according to a report conducted for the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. In the analysis prepared by Skipping Stone, a nationally recognized energy consulting firm, it also notes that introduction of the pipeline’s capacity to the region would actually increase costs to the region’s ratepayers, not decrease them as PennEast alleges.
The report concluded that regulators should not rely merely on the existence of contracts to assess need, since most of the customers purchasing capacity on PennEast are also affiliated with PennEast owners. Instead, the primary motivation for the project appears to be the potential high return on capital for owners of PennEast.
“This analysis provides concrete data to conclude that PennEast’s justifications for the proposed pipeline do not hold water,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director — Energy, Climate and Natural Resources for New Jersey Conservation Foundation, which commissioned the Skipping Stone research. “The PennEast pipeline is not needed and ratepayers will bear the cost. Profit by the private companies that own PennEast is not justification for building a pipeline, nor the use of eminent domain to take private property.”
“Based on this compelling analysis, we call upon FERC to immediately suspend review of PennEast’s application and to initiate a full-evidentiary hearing to determine what demand is supposedly being met by the proposed pipeline,” Gilbert stated. “The project should be rejected without a demonstration of public need.”
Gilbert also notes that according to the report:
Local gas distribution companies in the Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey market have more than enough firm delivery capacity to meet the needs of customers during peak winter periods. The analysis shows there is currently 49.9% more delivery capacity than needed to meet even the harsh winter experienced in 2013 (the Polar Vortex Winter).
There are alternative ways for providers of gas-fired electric generation to meet their need for electric reliability more cost-effectively by using either natural gas from LNG facilities or dual fuel. Natural gas pipelines in the northeast are typically fully utilized between 10 and 30 days a year to meet peak demand in the winter. Building a pipeline that is only fully utilized for a short period of time is not a cost effective way to provide reliable electricity.
The impact of PennEast may well be to increase, rather than decrease, costs to gas customers. The PennEast pipeline would be capable of transporting 1 billion cubic feet of gas daily, displacing gas from existing pipelines. Analysis of two existing pipelines shows that the value of capacity on those pipelines would decrease, costing ratepayers between $130 million and $230 million annually in lost revenues. Additionally, to the extent excess capacity causes existing pipelines in the region to experience loss of contracting by customers, FERC rules permit those existing pipelines to file for rate increases on remaining customers to recover lost revenues.
PennEast claims of potential savings for gas consumers or electric generation customers are based on faulty assumptions and analysis. The price spike experience during the Polar Vortex is unlikely to be repeated and does not, alone, justify the addition of new pipeline capacity. PennEast does not address evidence that similar price spikes did not occur in Winter 2014/2015; nor the important changes made in electric markets since 2013 that reduce dependence on constrained natural gas pipelines during peak demand periods because of reliance on fuel oil and LNG.
FERC should not rely on non-arms-length transactions as a foundation for finding market need. New Jersey Natural Gas, PSEG, South Jersey Gas, and Elizabethtown Gas have purchased 50% of the total capacity of the pipeline, while their corporate affiliates own 70% of PennEast. While the parent companies will benefit from their ownership of PennEast, those companies’ customers — ratepayers — bear the risk of paying for the PennEast capacity for 15 years. The contracts are essentially between parent companies and their own affiliates and therefore cannot by themselves represent a true demonstration of market need.
The Skipping Stone report can be found at: rethinkenergynj.org/penneastnotneeded
FAA Confirms PennEast Aerial Surveying Despite Company’s Public Denials
Washington, D.C., (February 2, 2016) — Today, at a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Power legislative hearing, Edward Lloyd, professor of Environmental Law at Columbia Law School, testified on behalf of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF) and Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association (SBMWA), opposing legislation that would allow aerial survey data to be given equal weight as ground survey data by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in approving new pipeline projects. The bill would also require other permitting agencies to accept aerial surveys in their permitting processes. Lloyd argued that the legislation would allow for the approval of projects with significant negative environmental impacts based on a survey technique that is unable to catalog much of the data required for an accurate review.
“Aerial surveys can’t possibly capture the data required to identify and evaluate a host of critical natural and cultural resources,” said Lloyd. “Aerial surveys would also undermine the privacy and property-rights of homeowners in the path of proposed pipelines.”
“We have grave concerns about the AIR Survey Act of 2015 in light of what we are experiencing with the PennEast pipeline in New Jersey,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director – Energy, Climate & Natural Resources for NJCF. “PennEast has failed to provide complete and accurate data on potential impacts to land, water, wildlife and historic resources. Weakening the review process to allow aerial survey data to replace far more accurate ground survey data would be a huge step in the wrong direction.”
“In New Jersey, landowners, environmentalists, municipalities, and legislators have banded together to tell energy companies and regulators that we do not want more pipelines. Local residents who walk our woods, fish our rivers, and love our state know that paper assessments and aerial photographs don’t capture the rich and diverse features that would be damaged and scarred by these pipelines. The AIR Survey Act of 2015 can lead to a situation where critical habitats and wetlands are not being properly protected because the aerial imagery is only one small part of a comprehensive assessment. Aerial surveys cannot, and should not, replace in depth environmental evaluations,” said Jim Waltman, executive director of SBMWA
Homeowners along the path of the proposed pipeline have complained of frequent airplanes and helicopters flying overhead, invading their peace and privacy. In a recent news article, a PennEast Pipeline Company spokesperson, stated, amidst homeowner outcry over multiple sightings of helicopters over properties, that “…PennEast is not using helicopters for surveys”. However, the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) has provided documentation to homeowners that on at least one occasion these helicopters were conducting “a flight on behalf of the PennEast Pipeline Project for the purpose of aerial survey along the proposed pipeline route.”
The impetus behind the proposal for faster, less thorough review is unclear given FERC’s relatively quick approval record. According to Lloyd, despite the exponential increase in pipeline applications, there is no indication that FERC’s decision-making process has become overly burdened or delayed; recent congressional hearings on this issue revealed that 92% of natural gas pipeline applications are decided within twelve months.
Lloyd also noted that the FERC approval process needs to examine pipeline proposals systematically and/or regionally to determine if new infrastructure is needed. “The current approval process fails to adequately assess whether additional pipelines are required by public necessity. Despite the proliferation in pipeline proposals, FERC continues to evaluate pipelines individually.”
Tom Gilbert, NJCF
Mike Pisauro, SBMWA
U.S. Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-12th Dist.), and Leonard Lance, (R-7th Dist.), along with state Senator Kip Bateman, (R-Somerset), and Assemblywoman Elizabeth Maher Muoio, (D-Mercer) called for the FERC review to be stopped.
HTCAPP is thankful this season for many things. Chief among them, is the unity of our community members all along the pipeline who continue to stand together and resist PennEast. If not for that, none of the following would be possible.
Things to be grateful for:
1. FERC seems to have caught on to the sloppy, incomplete, and inaccurate work PennEast has been submitting and is calling them on it. Last week FERC gave PennEast 20 days to supply a massive amount of information, or state when they would be able to provide it. FERC stated:
Much of this information is not available to PennEast thanks to the refusal and resistance of impacted landowners and townships. Bravo!!!