PennEast Solicitations!

PennEast phone calls

Many people have reported receiving calls from what sounds like a sweet little old lady who wants to discuss the many benefits of the proposed PennEast pipeline.  PennEast is striving to recruit individuals who are willing to be connected to the office of Leonard Lance so that they can tell the NJ Congressman that they are in favor of the project.  I have the number that the calls are coming from:

973-453-2046

If you see this number on your caller ID & you’re feeling creative, you could answer & either play along until you’re connected to the Congressman’s office, at which point you can express your opposition to the pipeline, or you could simply argue the merits of what the woman is pushing.

The way we see it is that, rather than the “done deal” that PennEast representatives have insinuated the pipeline is all along, PennEast is feeling the pressure of our hard work in opposing them at every step of their  plan to destroy our land & communities.  Why would they be paying someone to make cold calls begging for support if they have such a solid plan?

Keep up the good work and keep reaching out to  our elected officials!

Press Release from HALT PennEast attorney

Wiley Rein Represents HALT PennEast in Effort to Stop Construction of New Jersey Gas Pipeline

February 4, 2016

Washington, DC—In an effort to stop Federal approval  of a proposed $1.2 billion PennEast natural gas pipeline in New Jersey’s Mercer and Hunterdon counties, homeowners who could be directly impacted have joined forces to create the group HALT PennEast (Homeowners Against Land Taking). Wiley Rein LLP has been retained by HALT PennEast for the effort with a team led by Steven Richardson, partner in the firm’s Environment & Safety Practice and former deputy director of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. Federal and state lawmakers also have joined forces with HALT PennEast in calling for the pipeline’s review process to be restarted because environmental and market questions posed by federal regulators have gone unanswered by project sponsors.

Commenting on the launch of HALT PennEast, Mr. Richardson said: “Given the unprecedented level of energy infrastructure development that is occurring across the United States, it now is more important than ever that natural gas pipeline companies engage with the communities in which they propose to operate in a respectful, informative, and clear manner. HALT PennEast was created, in part, because PennEast has utterly failed to treat landowners fairly or respectfully.”

The planned 114-mile natural gas pipeline would originate in Pennsylvania and cut through Hunterdon and Mercer counties, terminating with another existing pipeline in Hopewell Township. Proposed by six major natural gas companies, including all four major companies in New Jersey, the PennEast Pipeline project is currently pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). While PennEast officials have said the pipeline would lower utility bills and that PennEast will work to restore property disruption caused by the construction, the affected community has remained steadfast in its opposition.

“Contrary to PennEast’s assumptions, the outcome of its FERC application is not a certainty,” Mr. Richardson said. “Based on our experience, 1,400 parties do not intervene at FERC when an application is well conceived and executed, or when there is clear and convincing evidence that the project provides a public benefit. Taking the HALT PennEast landowners’ property, businesses, and cultural and historic treasures for the benefit of this unnecessary, greenfield pipeline would be unjust and irresponsible. Granting eminent domain authority for PennEast would eliminate the distinction between private and public use of property, effectively deleting the words ‘for public use’ from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. HALT PennEast is determined to stop this ill-advised project.”

Wily Rein’s Environment & Safety Practice represents businesses and trade associations at both the federal and state levels and in international forums. The group is a recognized leader in handling pesticide and chemical competition and regulatory matters, battery and electronics industry issues, the regulation of the transportation of hazardous products, environmentally-based land use programs such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the laws applicable to product stewardship. The Practice publishes a periodic environment newsletter, Natural Resources and Endangered Species Report that  examines natural resources law and policy matters from land use disputes, climate change, and energy  to Endangered Species Act litigation.

Conservation Groups Oppose Industry Attempt to Weaken Pipeline Reviews, Allow Aerial Surveying

http://rethinkenergynj.org/conservation-groups-oppose-industry-attempt-to-weaken-pipeline-reviews-allow-aerial-surveying/

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.”

CONTACT: 

Tom Gilbert, NJCF
Email: tom@njconservation.org
Phone: 267-261-7325

Mike Pisauro, SBMWA
Email: mpisauro@thewatershed.org
Phone: 609-737-3735