The proposed PennEast pipeline was announced in August 2014. The 114 mile long line will start in Luzerne County and run Southeast to terminate near Hopewll, New Jersey. The Right of Way (ROW) would cut a 125′ scar through private properties, 88 streams, wetlands, and sacred Lenape sites. In the Aquashicloa and Pohopoco watersheds, the line would cross several Exceptional Value Wetlands and be very close to the water line that supplies the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has to give approval before the project can begin. Public hearings and comment periods are mandatory as well. Two hearings were held in Carbon County. The first was an open format- all attendees were able to hear comments. The opposition to the project became apparent at all public meetings, and for the second round of hearings a different and troubling format was used.
Instead of an open hearing, comments were taken one at a time, with a representative from FERC and a stenographer present. The public was not allowed to hear testimony. Statements were transcribed and published on the FERC website- http://www.ferc.gov. Click on the eLibrary link, then General Search and enter Docket No. CP15-558.
APWC has filed as an Intervenor and we have submitted several comments.At this time, PennEast has submitted a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that, according to EPA, lacks sufficient data. In Pennsylvania, 23% of land owners refused access to PennEast to survey. In New Jersey, 70% of the land owners refused access. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has declined to act as a “Cooperating Agency” and declined to accept the DEIS. The New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel submitted a strong case against the need for the pipeline. FERC has even demanded 34 corrections to the application. Permits to the Army Corps of Engineers and New Jersey DEP lack critical information.
There have been at least 33 route changes as of September 2016.
One of these was to accommodate Blue Mountain Ski Area, to provide gas for the water park. That change was to go along the EV Wetlands on Aquashicola Creek. The ROW was not on the ski area property, they wanted the benefit without the cost.
A subsequent change moved the ROW to the Northwest, through private lands again.
The opposition has moved the proposed “in service ” date back at least one full year!
As of this date, FERC has two unfilled Director positions, making a decision impossible.