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!!!
Thanks for all the interventions.
PennEast has formally filed with FERC
New Docket Number – CP15-558
Please continue to comment on the FERC web site! If you didn’t register to intervene and feel that your rights may be impaired if you do not, you can do so “out of time” on the FERC web site.
1. If FERC issues a decision that impacts you and you don’t like it, YOU CAN
ONLY EFFECTIVELY PROTEST IF YOU ARE AN INTERVENOR.
Non-intervenors are locked out of critical portions of the process.
2. FERC must address Intervenor comments in the Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS) and decisions.
3. An intervenor is allowed to participate in (or bring) legal proceedings involving
FERC and PennEast.
4. Intervenors are accorded elevated attention in FERC’s decision making
process and final decision.
AND VERY IMPORTANTLY
5. We need to show FERC that we are committed to fighting this pipeline!
WE CAN DO THIS!!!
DIRECT LINKS about INTERVENING:
INSTRUCTIONS – FIRST STEP How to Register on the FERC website:
FERC’s website is http://www.ferc.gov FIRST YOU MUST REGISTER:
There is a tab for Documents & Filing, and in the drop-down menu from that,
click on e-Register.
Follow the directions and fill out the form.
This will give you a FERC I.D. and password (you will need to do this even if you have an e-Filing account). FERC Online will then send you an email confirming your registration.
Go to your email program’s Inbox and open the message from FERC Online. Click on the link to validate your account.
NEXT STEP – How to file a (doc-less) Motion to Intervene with FERC:
DOCKET NUMBER – CP15-558 – You will need this number to access PennEast
Go to the tab for Documents & Filing in the top drop-down menu.
Click on e-Filing.
Click on the Log-in button. (You will need your registered email address and password)
After you log in, click the e-Filing link on the left.
Under Filing Type choose General in the first column.
Click (doc-less) Motion to Intervene (choose Motion to Intervene if you want to submit a file.)
Click the Next button.
A search form appears. TYPE IN: CP15-558 (the Docket number)
A listing for PENNEAST should appear. Click on the blue plus sign in the right column.
Click the Next button.
You are now prompted for a Document-less Intervention Description. Fill in reasons why you or your organization want to be an intervenor. State where or not you oppose it as.
Click the Next button.
Click Individual, or on behalf of another party -Click the Next button.
Specify who should get email notices – Add yourself as a Signer.
Click the Next button. A draft Submission Description appears.
Click the Next button to accept the default, or change it.
CLICK SUBMIT – You’re Done!
Note… always use the “next’ buttons and don’t hit ‘return’! That will kick you off!
NEED HELP? CALL 609-460-4280 or Help2comment@gmail.org
From MIke SPille’s ‘THE COST OF THE PIPELINE’ –
“In a nutshell, declaring that you are an intervenor reserves several rights for yourself, including being notified of all documents delivered in relation to the project, and also the right to be part of any legal proceedings (or bring them yourself). There is no real downside to being an intervenor.
INTERVENE and Help protect your neighbors and our community! TOGETHER WE CAN WIN!
This is absolutely brilliant. Thanks Fairfax! You inspire us to keep posting comments to FERC!
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
It was a packed house at the Watershed this past week. Thanks to MIke Pisauro and Mike Spille for thier great presentations. We also sent out, over a 24 hours period, mare than 1,000 tweets demanding PennEast withdraw their filing! KEEP TWEETING! If you don’t tweet, LEARN! Welcome to Twitter
Hosted by HTCAPP and the Stony Brooke-MIllstone Watershed
When: September 15th, 7:00 PM
Where: The Stony Brooke-MIllstone Watershed
Come to this cross township Citizens Against PennEast meeting to hear where we are in the process, what we’ve accomplished so far, and how to file to become an intervenor.
Speakers will include Jim Waltman and Mike Pisauro from the SBMSW and MIke Spille from West Amwell CAP.
Mark your calendars for this important, don’t miss meeting!
With Lenni Lenape prayers and drumming, protesters from two states marched from Upper Black Eddy, Pa. to Milford to protest the proposed PennEast pipeline.that would bring fracked gas to New Jersey.
WATCH THIS INCREDIBLE EXTENDED VIDEO FROM THE DAY’S EVENT — courtesy of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network
If you were there or you were unable to make it — either way, have a seat and watch this inspiring 31 minute-plus HD video!
(Note: to catch Michael Brogan’s — Rider University Political Scientist — excellent speech in its entirety, advance to minute marker: 18:48)
Courtesy nj.com and Hunterdon County Democrat:
RESOLUTION PROHIBITING SURVEY ACCESS BY PENNEAST PIPELINE COMPANY, LLC. The resolution was adopted by the Township Committee at its regular meeting held on July 27, 2015. See:
– Township Survey Resolution
– Announcement of Passage of Resolution
Also see link to Hopewell Township Board of Health Hearing from Tuesday evening, July 28 saying an emphatic “NO” to PennEast: http://vp.telvue.com/preview?id=T00986&video=244091.
(This is audio and video.)
GREAT WORK EVERYONE!
If you need to let PennEast know (or remind them) that you don’t allow access to your land, here’s the letter to refuse survey. Be on the lookout. Surveyors are all over the area and have been cited trespassing. If surveyors are on your property without your permission, you are within your rights to call the police and file a police report. refuse survey doc
Pipeline opponents claiming victory
A letter from the DEP has stated the agency does not have enough information to issue permits to PennEast to begin work.
– By Keith Brown, For Times of Trenton
Opponents of the proposed PennEast pipeline are claiming a victory after the state Department of Environmental Protection said it doesn’t have enough information to evaluate the permits needed to build the $1.2 billion natural gas conduit.
Because only about a third of the property owners in the proposed pipeline’s path through Hunterdon and Mercer counties have allowed the company to perform surveys, the DEP doesn’t have enough information to determine which permits PennEast will need, according to a July 2 DEP letter.
“The best way to stop PennEast is to prevent them from getting on your land and getting information for permits and approvals,” New Jersey Sierra Club President Jeff Tittel said in a news release. “By sticking together, not letting them on your property, and not supporting an alternative route, that’s how we can stop this pipeline.”
With preliminary work incomplete, the department is unable to complete a formal review of the proposal, including issuing necessary permits to begin work.
“It does not even make sense for us to review the project with so little access from public and private owners in New Jersey secured at this time,” department spokesman Lawrence Hajna said.
That’s good news to pipeline opponents, who lauded homeowners along the proposed path of the pipeline, which stretches from northeastern Pennsylvania to Hopewell Township.
“This letter from DEP is a major roadblock for PennEast,” Tittel said.
Representatives for PennEast downplayed the DEP’s letter, saying it is merely part of the approval process.
“This is all in line with what PennEast hopes to achieve,’’ Patricia Kornick, spokeswoman for PennEast, said. “Contrary to being a setback, this provides a clear, constructive roadmap for PennEast.’’
The DEP’s letter was sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has final say over the approval of the pipeline. PennEast is in a pre-application stage of the federal approval process. The company plans to make a formal application in the third quarter of this year, Kornick said.
The DEP in its letter said it cannot complete a review of land-use or water-quality permits “if the potential impact surveys and mitigation and restoration plans’’ are incomplete.
PennEast is progressing through an early phase of the application process in which feedback is sought from various agencies and landowners, Kornick said. Based on that feedback, the pipeline route is changing — something that will be difficult to do once a formal application is submitted to FERC.
There have been at least six alterations of the route, according to the company’s website. The most recent route was released in March.
PennEast is now doing surveys on public property and getting permission to survey private properties along the route as well.
“We’re not asking to buy the property,” Kornick said, “we’re asking to learn more about the property.”
She also said that after adjustments were made, half of the pipeline’s total route now fits with existing utility rights-of-way, a significant issue raised by the New Jersey DEP.
PennEast, a consortium of natural gas companies backed by all four natural gas providers in the state, wants to build the 110-mile, 36-inch pipeline from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania to Hopewell Township.
“Residents along the proposed pipeline continue to stand strong and united against PennEast and will continue to hold the line” said Patty Cronheim, founder Hopewell Township Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline. “PennEast is failing to gain ground in our communities as we work together to put a big stop sign on this destructive, unwanted project.”
If approved, the pipeline would begin construction in late 2017 and begin operation in early 2018, Kornick said.
This article contains reporting from Steve Novak.
MERCER COUNTY BLOCKS ACCESS TO COUNTY LAND FOR PROPOSED PIPELINE PROJECT
BRIAN M. HUGHES – COUNTY EXECUTIVE DATE: July 20, 2015
TRENTON — Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes today informed officials associated with the proposed PennEast Pipeline Project that the company would no longer have access to lands owned by Mercer County for the purpose of surveying the property to facilitate the project. This decision was reached as a result of the company performing soil borings on Baldpate Mountain, which the county has deemed as potentially environmentally harmful.
PennEast has no legal obligation to consult with the county to access or map public land. But in order to understand the full and possible impact to county parkland, the county believed that granting access to the company to delineate wetlands and to survey would provide the knowledge necessary to wage a battle to protect county open space. In light of the intrusion on numerous ecosystems and news that the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection has been unable to collect enough information to issue permits to PennEast to perform work, the county has blocked further access to its property.
Mercer County first became aware of the proposed PennEast Pipeline Project in fall 2014. Preliminary maps showed the underground gas line bisecting pristine parkland, preserved open space, farmland, woodlands and wetlands throughout Mercer Meadows, including the Rosedale Lake, Equestrian Center, Ecological, and Farm districts.
County Executive Hughes expressed vehement opposition to the proposed pipeline cutting through environmentally sensitive open space purchased with county tax dollars, on the record through a statement issued in October 2014, in a joint resolution with the Board of Chosen Freeholders in November 2014 and in testimony to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in February 2015. (attachments)
As a result of the county urging PennEast to co-locate the proposed gas line with existing utility rights of way, the fragile ecosystems in Mercer Meadows and Rosedale will not be impacted. In fact, the company’s initial proposal to FERC revealed the proposed path would cut through pristine ground including fragile wetlands. Instead, the current proposal being presented to FERC puts more than 85 percent of the pipeline in Mercer County within existing public utility rights of way.
Unless this project receives federal approval, the county will no longer permit any soil borings to occur on Baldpate Mountain. The county is prepared to fight on the behalf of county interests and to fight for the open space it has purchased. The county remains opposed to the pipeline.
GREAT WORK EVERYONE!
If you need to let PennEast know (or remind them) that you don’t allow access to your land, here’s the letter to refuse survey. Be on the lookout. Surveyors are all over the area and have been cited trespassing. If surveyors are on your property without your permission, you are within your rights to call the police and file a police report.
RIVERKEEPER YOUTUBE DOCUMENTATION SURVEY DAMAGE IN HUNTERDON COUNTY: