Camden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Washington Crossing, PA; On March 15, 2017, despite the big storm that hit the region, large numbers turned out to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) Quarterly Commissioners meeting to deliver a lengthy, joint and detailed comment documenting the tremendous amount of false, misleading and missing information provided by PennEast to the DRBC and by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in its environmental documentation for the project.
Hundreds registered in advance to help deliver the detailed comment; so many that on February 22 (three weeks before the meeting) the DRBC announced on its website that the open public comment session had reached speaker capacity. While the storm reduced the numbers that actually were able to attend, the turnout was still significant and sent a strong message of opposition to the PennEast Pipeline.
One by one, testifiers went to the podium to deliver the single, lengthy comment articulating the inaccurate and deficient information provided by PennEast for DRBC, FERC and public consideration. Each testifier picked up reading the comment where the previous testifier left off, while the audience as a whole joined in the reading.
Those present wore green T-shirts opposing the PennEast pipeline proposal and carried signs saying “Stop PennEast”, “Protect our River”, “Water is Life” and “Stop the Fracking Pipelines”.
The comment delivered by a collective of individuals on behalf of the larger community began with the following opening statement:
“At this point you are probably getting significant pressure from the PennEast Pipeline company, as well perhaps from FERC, to hold your hearings and render a decision on the PennEast pipeline proposal.
We are here to make clear that scheduling hearings and developing a DRBC docket document for public comment would be sorely premature. The information provided by PennEast and FERC, to the DRBC, FERC, the Army Corps and the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania is uniformly paralyzing if the goal is informed and objective decisionmaking.
The information provided by PennEast and advanced by PennEast is demonstrably false, misleading and deficient. The number of errors, inaccuracies, data gaps, misinformation, missing information and demonstrably false information is so prevalent and overwhelming that DRBC should not be wasting its time, or our time, on trying to review, comment and engage in decisionmaking.
To the degree there is helpful information on the record about the PennEast pipeline project, the information makes clear the unavoidable and unacceptable high level of harm the project will have on our water resources, our environment and our communities today, for decades and for future generations and so the DRBC is obliged to deny the PennEast Pipeline project a DRBC docket.
And so now, for the record, we will document just the tip of the iceberg of demonstrably false, misleading and missing information that prevents you from even considering a docket or public hearings. This information compliments the tremendous volumes of information you have received on the record that does nothing but demonstrate that you must reject the PennEast pipeline and deny it a DRBC docket.”
“It was important to turn out to let the DRBC Commissioners hear directly how deficient and misleading the PennEast materials provided to the DRBC and other agencies are. We don't want the DRBC staff to waste their time or our time on a hearing and decisionmaking process that can’t withstand challenge because it is based on the intentionally misleading materials provided by PennEast,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the regional organization Delaware Riverkeeper Network who is among the organizations leading the precedent setting opposition.
“The Sourland Conservancy joins with other organizations and individuals in urging the DRBC not to hold hearings on the proposed PennEast pipeline based on an incomplete and inaccurate Environmental Impact Statement,” stated Caroline Katmann, Executive Director of the Sourland Conservancy. “The devastating impacts this proposed pipeline would have on the environmentally fragile Sourland Mountain region have not been presented and seriously addressed in the EIS in spite of the countless comments by landowners, experts, organizations, government officials and other citizens that layout the existential threats of the proposed pipeline to the Sourland ecosystem. PennEast’s and FERC’s blatant disregard for all of the evidence presented to them regarding the economic, environmental, and human health and safety implications of this project is nothing short of criminal!” said Caroline Katmann, Executive Director, Sourland Conservancy.
"The PennEast pipeline threatens our drinking water, environment and health, at a time when we need to focus our efforts on the transition to the clean, renewable energy economy," said Dante DiPirro, an environmental lawyer and President of Mr. Sustainable LLC.
"I moved here for the bucolic nature of Upper Bucks County and now all that is in jeopardy,” said Gale Griffiths, Ret. NYPD Detective and a resident of Riegelsville, Pa.
"PENNEAST IS VERY GOOD AT ONE THING… DECEPTION!” said John Crum, a resident of Upper Black Eddy, Pa.
“PennEast is a threat to the Delaware Valley and to our River. The FERC EIS is a joke and doesn’t look at the irreparable harm it would do to our environment and waterways. The pipeline would destroy over 255 waterways as well as thousands of acres of wetlands and forests and threaten endangered species and open space. It would also threaten the drinking water for 17 million people. You have designated most of these areas as Special Protection Water Areas and you must give the River the special protection it deserves,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We must stop these fracking pipelines from cutting an ugly scar through our precious Delaware Valley. Don’t Ruin the Basin, Commissioners! Deny them a docket and stop this damaging and unneeded pipeline! Keep the FERC out of our Valley!”
"It's as clear as a pristine Delaware River tributary that PennEast has failed to provide even the minimum basic info needed for DRBC to do its job and protect the Basin. It's a no brainer that a major new fracked gas pipeline would have potentially huge impacts on the Delaware River. DRBC needs to tell Penn East its review will not proceed until an honest and comprehensive EIS and application are completed and those can't happen when a majority of the right of way hasn't been surveyed due to opposition from impacted landowners as is the case here," said David Pringle, NJ Campaign Director of Clean Water Action.
"After two and a half years, the PennEast Partners have not been able to make the case that their pipeline is warranted, much less safe. That's because it's a case they can't make," said Karen Feridun, Founder of Berks Gas Truth. "Pipeline projects tether us to yesterday's dirty energy sources for decades rather than advance the renewable, sustainable solutions that will ensure clean air, clean water, and a livable planet for future generations. It's really that simple. Which side do you want to be on, DRBC?"
"PennEast is trying to peddle a pipeline to the residents of the Delaware River Valley. The public has rejected this pipeline, but DRBC needs to see through the misinformation that PennEast is peddling to the Commission, and reject this docket. DRBC should be able to provide an independent review of the impact of the pipeline on the Delaware River watershed, but that's impossible when PennEast is intentionally misleading decision-makers. DRBC needs to hold the PennEast pipeline to account to the damage it would inflict upon the Delaware River watershed," said Doug O'Malley, director of Environment New Jersey.