According to a survey prepared by Black & Veatch Insights Group entitled 2015 Strategic Directions – US Natural Gas Industry Report, 74% of the respondent cited delays by opposition as the most significant barrier to construction of pipelines. The Black & Veatch report stated expressed concerns where FERC has seen everyday citizens become unexpected interveners in routine filings.
This summer, Patricia Kornick, PennEast spokesperson stated people should be involved with the FERC process to voice their concerns in response to a protest event.
People seemed to have taken Kornick’s advice to heart as under FERC Pre-file Docket# PF15-1; over 2,500 comments in opposition to the PennEast pipeline were submitted.
Over 1,500 Motions to Intervene (MOI) were filed during 4-week MOI period expressing opposition. Eight PennEast associated corporations submitted MOI in support of the project during the last two days of the MOI filing period.
The unprecedented MOI filings in opposition were from everyday citizens, municipalities, local city and town departments, organizations and local citizen groups.
Everyday citizens have not stopped with MOI filings, over 700 comments of original and well researched nature have been filed for the now PennEast Docket# CP15-558 stating reasons for opposing the project. Support for the PennEast project continues to be in the form a pre-printed mass produced postcards.
PennEast has and continues to dismiss concerns of everyday citizens while at the same one PennEast internet ad states it has had over 200 meetings. It is unclear how PennEast defines a meeting, as there were only 5 “open house” events late last year and 5 “invite only” luncheons this spring, where the press and general public were not allowed entry.
Concerns by everyday citizens are numerous and include how the pipeline will affect their private water wells. In a September 2015 report to FERC, PennEast stated there were no private water wells in Pennsylvania and New Jersey within 150’ of the path. Given much of the route is through rural communities where private water wells are prevalent, it’s incomprehensible how PennEast could make such a claim.
Crossing of the Susquehanna River in Luzerne County is another concern. The Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority requested specific plans for the impacted area. PennEast spokeswoman Patricia Kornick stated it was too premature to show the authority detailed plans.
If not now, then when?
This area is also the site of old coal mines, and concerns of how a pipeline may cause mine collapse and affect acid mine drainage were similarly brushed off as being too premature.
If not now, then when?
Everyday citizens continue to be approached by land acquisition companies hired by PennEast for permission to survey. When such permission is denied, everyday citizens are finding surveyors trespassing. Registered letters sent to PennEast denying survey permission have been returned unopened to everyday citizens.
Land acquisition representatives have refused to leave copies of legal documents with everyday citizens to review with their attorneys, thereby depriving everyday citizens the opportunity to seek legal counsel. Veiled or outright threats of eminent domain are not an uncommon occurrence during meetings between PennEast representatives and everyday citizens.
Everyday citizens have and continue to form all volunteer groups in communities along the PennEast route.
Despite PennEast’s attempts to downplay the size of opposition as being a “vocal minority”, the combined 5,000 comments, MOI filed in addition to local groups opposing the project makes it obvious that “vocal minority” is rapid growing into a very vocal majority.
PennEast stated in one FERC report “100% of New Jersery communities are uncooperative.”
Yes, opposition is unprecedented, and yes, PennEast certainly has a situation.
UPDATE: 11/4/2015 8:15am
About all those pre-printed mass produced postcards supporting PennEast.
Below is copy of one who took the time to include a “thoughtful” comment:
©2015 by Dory Hippauf