PennEast Asks Supporters to Submit False Claims About Purported Need for Pipeline

Posted August 17, 2017

Pipeline’s Public Solicitation Misrepresents Position of Federal Agency

FAR HILLS, NJ (August 17, 2017) — In its rush to win approval for a gas pipeline that threatens health and safety and serves no public need, PennEast is making misleading claims about actions of the federal agency reviewing the proposal.

On its website the company is soliciting the public to send a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the body considering PennEast’s request to build a 120-mile pipeline from fracking sites in Pennsylvania through Mercer and Hunterdon counties.

The letter template contains a highly erroneous statement implying that FERC has confirmed that PennEast would deliver lower cost energy.

In fact, FERC has not publicly released any findings regarding the project’s potential effects on the “cost of energy,” and the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel has questioned such claims from the company.

Data in the docket before FERC strongly indicate that gas prices from the Marcellus Shale would rise if this project proceeds.

FERC limited its environmental “conclusions” to the data within the PennEast docket when it released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), recognizing that other environmental agencies had yet to “present their own conclusions and recommendations in their respective record of decision or determination for the project.”

The Eastern Environmental Law Center (EELC), on behalf of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJ Conservation) and the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association (SBMWA), sent a letter to FERC requesting:

  • “a searching and extensive review” of all data submitted to the PennEast docket,
  • the grant of the groups’ legal motion for an evidentiary hearing on public need, and
  • the commission to discard PennEast’s statements, which are not supported by data and which contradict FERC’s administrative record showing otherwise.

“PennEast is trying to gloss over very substantive issues regarding the lack of need for the project that have been raised by credible experts,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director, ReThink Energy NJ and NJ Conservation. “A key part of PennEast’s strategy is to mislead the public. Rather than dealing with the real unanswered questions in its application, PennEast is trying to paper over its docket with inaccurate statements.”

“PennEast is twisting and contorting what has actually transpired. For all the counts against this company, this is further evidence that they cannot be trusted with our land, our water, our air, or our health and safety,” said Jim Waltman, executive director, SBMWA.

“Telling the truth shouldn’t be too much to ask of a company seeking to seize homeowners’ property and irrevocably scar our communities. Unfortunately, that is too high a bar for PennEast,” said Jennifer Danis, senior attorney, EELC.

PennEast’s letter also falsely asserts that FERC determined that demand for PennEast’s capacity cannot be met by existing pipelines or other proposed pipelines. Actually, FERC has stated that its Final EIS for PennEast “does not determine whether the need for the project exists.” The commission said it will consider the results of its staff’s review of the project’s design, “market demand, costs, financing and rates” before rendering its decision.

PennEast recently asked FERC to give expedited approval of its controversial pipeline project. With such authorization, the company would likely try to use eminent domain to gain survey access to properties whose owners have refused to give PennEast permission.

FERC is obligated to document legitimate public need, especially in a project like PennEast that could trigger the widespread seizing of property through eminent domain. PennEast’s letter undermines and distracts this process that deserves more careful treatment than hollow form letters that are rife with errors.

In June the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection denied PennEast’s application for two key water permits because the company did not secure necessary approvals from most landowners, much less submit the necessary survey data or analyses of adverse impacts to environmental resources.

Click to Tweet: “A key part of #PennEast’s strategy is to mislead the public.” http://ow.ly/HThL30etWAJ @ConserveNJ @eelc_org @theH2Oshed


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