A “must read” FERC submission from Fairfax Hutter

This is absolutely brilliant.  Thanks Fairfax!  You inspire us to keep posting comments to FERC!

http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20150918-5102

September 17, 2015
Ms. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20426
Re: Docket No. PF15-1-000
PennEast Pipeline Project:

Dear Ms. Bose:

PennEast’s problems are self-made with repeated “assists” from FERC. You the regulators FERC, PADEP, and NJDEP must refuse to bail them out as they bungle billions by abandoning us, the citizens of NJ & PA—the REAL stakeholders. This is a matter of principle. This is also NOT NIMBY, I’m not a private landowner on route but am as a taxpayer share in the ownership of our prized preserved lands. Do NOT let them file this incomplete and error-ridden project. You FERC, wouldn’t want another Enron on your shoulders, would you?

UGI reports “FERC and Tetra Tech stressed importance of explaining the story for how PennEast developed this route.” Yes, it IS a story that needs to be told. And the truth needs to out. PENNEAST’S PROBLEMS ARE ENTIRELY OF THEIR OWN MAKING with the helping hand of FERC. This project was self jinxed from the get-go.

Instantly obvious in August 2014 that PennEast started at EXACT same place in Dallas, PA as “Transco Leidy” expansion that FERC was just approving. Both travel circa 100+ miles from PA to NJ. Both end a mere SIX miles away. TWO PARALLEL ‘INTERSTATE PIPELINE HIGHWAYS BUILT JUST FEW MILES AND MERE YEARS APART? How EFFICIENT is that? How does that JUSTIFY eminent domain? How environmentally DESTRUCTIVE is that—crossing PA and NJ’s most scenic streams and valleys and 15-27% of IBAs? Yes, LUDICROUS and OUTRAGEOUS. Sloppy PennEast just wanted to catch up, and possibly overtake, Transco on profits to get their hunk of “key LNG pie.”

I pointed out ‘parallel’ route similarity at October Hopewell meeting. Pointed out PE start was PennEast’s seriously risky engineering hurdle—PennEast proposes crossing the Susquehanna River near site of Knox Mine Disaster drowning 12 miners and death knell to anthracite industry. PennEast looked dumbfounded as if they’d never heard of infamous Knox. Transco reportedly (trying to verify) ran their bigger line south of Wyoming Valley to avoid the mining areas. PennEast was seemingly oblivious to history of the Wyoming Valley including honeycomb of unmapped wildcat mines, acid mine drainage, and history of contaminated toxic waste routinely dumped into mine boreholes on their route throughout Wilkes-Barre Scranton metro area. When your start has issues—you’re jinxed.

Why this PLANNING FIASCO? PennEast FAILED to do any HOMEWORK in six months from conception to announcement. They didn’t bother to assess if wise billion dollar investment. Didn’t notice NJ already has some of the lowest cost natural gas in the country and mostly built out gas-wise. After all there were ZERO—yes ZERO risks to THEM—FERC was going to hand over our homes, our lives, our safety, our lands and treasured preserves on a certified ‘golden platter’ to PennEast for their profits, no questions asked, no lawsuits, no DEPs needed. No risks to UGI or their investors. PADEP & NJDEP were going to roll over and plead for the compensatory handouts. This is Pipeline Highway Robbery cum Tragedy with the blessing of FERC. The Pope will be taking confessions shortly.

Instead of EVER investigating route and assessing risks as savvy business, PennEast sunk techies into a
‘Google Man Cave’ never coming out to see light of day to even look at PA & NJ on the ground and discover that NJ route wasn’t PennEast’s “coastal plain” sandbox. First route cut through some of NJ’s most beautiful and environmentally sensitive places: unspoiled Wickecheoke Creek Valley with covered bridge (arguably NJ’s most scenic valley), the marvelous rollicking Lockatong Creek with High Falls, and the Mercer County Equestrian Center —PennEast didn’t even notice they’d severed the barns in half! Then they adjusted route through Rosedale Park putting packed Dog Park on one side, and playgrounds, picnic areas, lake, and Bald Eagles on the other. Then, in a December ‘Christmas Gift’ to APPEAR less damaging to the environment, they routed it through the MOST environmentally sensitive and recreationally popular Ted Stile Preserve at Baldpate Mountain, the highest mountain in Mercer with views of Delaware and Philadelphia, 120 year old trees never to be replaced. This route destroys the most beautiful valley in Mercer County—Pleasant Valley, home to the Howell Living History Farm (200+ feet from PennEast and packed with bus loads of school children), and along Revolutionary War historic and environmentally sensitive Goat Hill, United Water/Rockhopper Trail, etc. All under the GUISE of “CO-LOCATION” (hoping FERC and public wouldn’t notice.) From ecological standpoint PennEast’s destruction of circa 2.6 miles of often 120 year old prime forest and buffer zones is far worse than original route plowing through Mercer Meadows’s grasslands.

HISTORY IS REPEATING ITSELF WITH FERC’S ROLE:

FERC’s co-locating with those they regulate has already made them a co-conspirator, if not a major cause, of the over 74 billion $ Enron Disaster. Enron was a natural gas, pipeline, and energy company. Can’t FERC and elected officials see history repeating itself?

Damming Congressional conclusion on FERC & Enron: http://www.hsgac.senate.gov/media/minority-media/ferc-oversight-of-enron-ranged-from-naive-to-negligent

“WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Tuesday said an exhaustive committee investigation has concluded that federal energy oversight of Enron Corp. was “an embarrassing and unacceptable” failure of government that came at the expense of energy consumers, Enron employees, and Enron investors. The Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, which had responsibility over Enron’s energy business, more often than not trusted Enron’s assertions about its business affairs, failed to anticipate and prepare for changes in the energy market, reacted belatedly to many serious offenses, and made no effort to address the gaps, flaws, and inadequacies that allowed Enron to escape scrutiny. “Again and again, FERC failed to ask critical questions about Enron’s business practices—questions that might have exposed the fissures in Enron’s fiscal foundation sooner and spared investors, employees, and consumers some of the pain they have endured,” Lieberman said.”

His comments came during the latest in a series of hearings held by the Governmental Affairs Committee on what federal and private sector watchdogs did and did not do to expose and prevent the questionable business practices of Enron in the months and years leading up to the company’s collapse.

“FERC’s slipshod analysis is especially indefensible because Enron was not simply another player in our energy markets,” Lieberman said. “By the time of its collapse, Enron had grown to become the seventh largest company in the nation—the largest electricity and natural gas trading company—
and a company that made no secret of its ambitions to grow even larger.”

The investigation, conducted by the majority staff of the Committee, found the most egregious examples of lax FERC oversight in four areas… “In these four cases, FERC’s oversight ranged from naive at best, to negligent at worst,” Lieberman said. “Oftentimes, FERC seemed to view itself not as a regulator but as a facilitator—not as a market cop, but as a market cheerleader, which left consumers without protection.” Particularly “ironic and irresponsible,” Lieberman said, is that FERC exhibited no vigilance to ensure that everyone obey rules of fair play in the deregulated marketplace that FERC itself had helped to create.

“No matter how passionately we believe in capitalism as the best system for economic growth and opportunity, the invisible hand cannot do it all,” Lieberman said. “Markets have no conscience. To ensure markets of integrity, as well as efficiency, as well as profit, that invisible hand needs to be assisted by the firm hand of government oversight in the name of ethics.

There are many parallels to this inherently flawed process. Ratings Agencies who were paid by fees from customers had major hand in the 2008 Great Recession. Unfortunately: “Dodd-Frank did little to change what some say is an inherent conflict of interest in credit raters’ business model, in which the raters are paid by the companies whose products they rate.” http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE73C8GX20110414

ULTIMATELY MALFEASANCE (deceit, deliberate doctoring of cited data, trespassing, carelessness and criminality) FLOURISHES WHEN THERE ARE NO CHECKS AND BALANCES WITH TEETH TO RESTRAIN AND DETER IT. Particularly when those restraints are NEVER exercised!

Given PennEast’s deceitful record, criminal doctoring of cited reports, errors, and failure to research risks, PENNEAST CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO FILE OR GIVEN CONDITIONAL PERMITS based on enormous risks of route. They must assess and detail all plans. They just announced damming the Susquehanna River in July—no details, no proof safe despite myriad risks. Just hollow promises to the naive. No time for public to research them.

Failures last month at Gold King Mine disaster in Colorado polluting Animas River orange with toxic metals and FERC-approved Cannonsville Dam geotechnical fiasco in July make it crystal clear that GEOLOGICAL IMAGING ISN’T FOOLPROOF AND FAILURES CAN BE DISASTROUS. Ultimately were PennEast granted a Certificate they should never be allowed simultaneous construction. Were start crossing Wyoming Valley a disaster then the rest of the route should not be destroyed or a guinea pig for PennEast. PennEast cannot scream “Hardship Waiver” because hardships are of their own making?

FERC— If you don’t deny this inherently and demonstrably flawed project, it may go down as a historic ‘KlusterFERC.’

Thanks kindly and once again counting on you to do the right thing,
Ms. Fairfax Hutter
Lawrenceville, NJ

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