PennEast Wants Illegal Secret Meetings

secret meetingsIn a letter filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on June 8, 2015, it was revealed PennEast is approaching community leaders along the pipeline route to have “a strictly private meeting

Per June 8, 2015 letter to FERC from Lower Saucon Township Council, Northampton County, PA:

PennEast Pipeline Company has requested a strictly private meeting with the members of Council to inform it of project developments and has flatly refused the Council’s request that it agree to make its presentations in a meeting open to the public.

This refusal places the Council in the unenviable position of either refusing to meet with PennEast and thus depriving itself of information to inform its decision-­-making, or cooperating with a process that lacks transparency. Such a meeting also precludes any deliberation because such deliberation would violate Pennsylvania’s open meeting law, the “Sunshine Act”, 65 Pa.C.S.A. 701, et seq.

Lower Saucon Township was one of the first communities to pass a Resolution opposing the construction of the PennEast pipeline.

According to a copy of the resolution, “The Council of Lower Saucon Township opposes and objects to the design, route and construction of the proposed PennEast Pipeline and the Hellertown lateral. … The proposed pipeline/lateral threatens to significantly damage streams, wildlife habitat, existing farm operations and the quality of life in Lower Saucon Township.”

The resolution also urges surrounding municipalities affected by the pipe to draft similar resolutions.

There are scattered reports of other towns along the route being similarly contacted about “strictly private meetings”.

Invitation Only

PennEast has held Invitation Only luncheons and dinners for property owners who have or are being approached to sign an easement along the route.

From one such meeting it was reported there was:

a heavy State Police presence who seemed to be there at the request of the hosting venue in one case. Their job seemed to be to solely silence landowners that spoke a bit too heatedly while trying to defend their homes. Western Land Services seemed Intent on intimidating landowners by telling them “it’s a done deal”.

Western Land Services is the contractor hired by PennEast to obtain permissions to survey and to perform the surveys.

PennEast is in the PRE-FILE stage of the FERC process. No formal application has been made to FERC.

Per STRATEGIES FOR PIPELINE PERSONNEL – Practical Applications for Successful Project Implementation

On Page 24 – Presentation Techniques Things to Avoid, Item #7 states:

Don’t Use phrases such as: “It’s a done deal…..you might as well sign

While much of what is in the manual is not codified as a Federal or State regulation, it is part of the “Best Management Practices” that the industry claims to follow.

Many landowners come out of these gatherings reporting their questions are not being answered.  Residents were hopeful that PennEast would address their questions individually, but a number of those who attended the private meetings said they were again treated with vague generalities and assurances. Company officials continue to display a lack of local geological expertise, critics claim.

Community Resolutions

Since the plans for the PennEast pipeline were announced in late 2014, towns and organizations in its path have passed and filed with FERC resolutions opposing the pipeline.

PennEast has tried to downplay the unprecedented show of opposition by characterizing as a “vocal minority” and by promoting copy/paste comments or pre-printed postcards be sent to FERC.

Below is a list of Towns, Counties and Organizations which have passed resolution opposing the PennEast Pipeline as of May 14, 2015:

Townships Passed Resolutions

  •    Delaware Township, NJ
  •    Hopewell Township, NJ
  •    Alexandria Township, NJ
  •    West Amwell Township, NJ
  •    Holland Township, NJ
  •    Kingwood Township, NJ
  •    Moore Township, PA
  •    Riegelsville Borough, PA
  •    Dallas Township, PA
  •    Kidder Township, PA
  •    Lower Saucon Township, PA
  •    Towamensing, PA
  •    Plains Township, PA
  •    Lower Towamensing Township, PA
  •    West Wyoming Borough, PA
  •    Penn Forest, PA

 Supporting Townships not along the Route:

  •    Clinton Township, NJ
  •    East Amwell Township, NJ
  •    Bridgeton Township, PA
  •    Bethlehem Township, NJ
  •    Frenchtown Borough, NJ
  •    City of Lambertville, NJ
  •    Mahoning Township, PA
  •    Municipality of Princeton, NJ
  •    Solebury Township, PA
  •    Bethlehem City, PA
  •    Springfield PA

 Counties:

  •    Mercer County, NJ
  •    Hunterdon Freeholders
  •    Carbon County, PA

Others That Have Passed Resolutions

  •    Hunterdon Regional School District, NJ
  •    The Garden Club of Trenton, NJ
  •    The New Jersey Conservation Foundation, NJ
  •    Cooks Creek Watershed, PA
  •    Stonybrook Garden Club, NJ
  •    Sourland Conservancy, NJ
  •    Williams Township Land Preservation Board
  •    Williams Township Citizen’s Resolution Against the PennEast Pipeline, PA

    © 2015 by Dory Hippauf

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2 comments

  1. Thanks Dory for your perseverance and dedication to the important cause of anti-fracking from its cradle to grave processes.

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