Put yourself in someone else’s shoes

Opposition to the PennEast pipeline is not universal. Approximately 1% of the submissions I see on ferc.gov support the pipeline. They are nearly all identical – they pretty much parrot back PennEast’s justification in their filings with FERC and that’s about it. The story is about jobs and cheaper natural gas for people in NJ and PA. John from Hatfield PA writes:

I am a hardworking member ofthe National Electrical Contractors Association, who’s local Penn-Del-Jersey contractors alone employ over 10,000 workers performing over $ 1 billion of work in the area each year. I support the PennEast Pipeline Project and I urge you to join me. The PennEast Project is an approximately 110-mile, 36-inch pipeline that will bring affordable natural gas to customers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. With an investment of nearly $1 billion, this new pipeline is designed to deliver approximately 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day- that is enough gas to serve more than 4.7 million homes.

New pipeline infrastructure is being driven by an increased demand for gas-fred electric generation, as well as from the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. This new infrastructure will aid consumers in seeing lower utility rates and lesser price volatility during times of high demand —such as frigid temperatures —and better reliability as it pertains to gas and electric power generation.
The PennEast Pipeline will not only benefit energy consumers, but will also have a positive effect on local communities. The Project will create local jobs -specifically during its seven months of construction, contribute to state and local tax revenues and increase business for local stores and other retailers.

Lastly, the Project supports America’s push toward energy independence and a cleaner energy future by maximizing locally produced clean-burning natural gas. The PennEast Pipeline will help decrease our energy reliance on other countries while also reducing carbon emissions.
A cleaner and more independent energy future will be possible because of new infrastructure like the PennEast Pipeline Project, I urge you to support the development of this pipeline.

I understand where John’s coming from. Wouldn’t it be great if this pipeline were bringing “affordable natural gas to customers in New Jersey and Pennsylavania?

He says “New pipeline infrastructure is being driven by an increased demand for gas-fired electric generation, as well as from the residential, commercial and industrial sectors”. Hey, that sounds awesome. There’s increased demand so we’d better find a supply to match, right?

He continues: “This new infrastructure will aid consumers in seeing lower utility rates and lesser price volatility during times of high demand —such as frigid temperatures —and better reliability as it pertains to gas and electric power generation.” Well, yeah. Price volatility is bad, so we should do something about it.

He concludes: “Lastly, the Project supports America’s push toward energy independence and a cleaner energy future by maximizing locally produced clean-burning natural gas. The PennEast Pipeline will help decrease our energy reliance on other countries while also reducing carbon emissions”.

Hell yeah. Right?

Wrong. If PennEast’s justifications were in fact truthful, I would agree with John 100%. The problem is, they aren’t. I don’t blame John for this. I blame PennEast, and the FERC. Let’s look at these items one by one.

Bringing affordable natural gas to customers in NJ and PA? Uh, no. Data from EIA.gov shows that this is a bald face lie. PA is a net exporter of natural gas already, and it’s only getting started. It’s going to be a massive net-exporter once pipelines like PennEast and the half-dozen others in the queue are approved. PA doesn’t need this gas.

NJ doesn’t either. The eia.gov data is clear. Demand for natural gas is flat in NJ, and is expected to continue to be so out to 2014 with the exception of electrical generation. You could argue we need more gas for that generation, but we don’t need 1 billion cubic feet a day. In fact this pipeline is not sized for NJ and PA. It’s sized for the world.

He talks about “increased demand” for gas-fired generation, residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. As I mentioned above – gas-fired generation demand increases are going to be modest. And the rest are absolutely flat.

He goes on to talk about price volatility. Yeah, I agree that’s bad. However, again it pays to look at the data. In FERC’s submission they show the data – there were 10 days of extreme price volatility in the 5 year period from 2009 to 2014. Two of them – the polar vortex days shortly after Super storm Sandy – were really bad.

But you don’t need a billion cubic feet of gas running through our state per day because of volatility experienced on one half of one percent of the year. It’s absurd. Again – this pipeline is way too big for that justification.

He concludes talking about energy independence and reducing carbon emissions. I’m sorry, but this is my “WTF?” moment. I’m sorry, John, but this gas is not destined for use by you and me. The U.S. already has a glut of natural gas and production is far out pacing use. No. This gas is for exporting to foreign countries, to India and countries in Asia. PennEast knows this. Heck, the FERC not only knows it but it’s created presentations showing the U.S. becoming a net-exporter of Nat Gas to the tune of over 4 trillion cubic feet per year. This is not about energy-indepence, John. It’s about profit for a select few companies.

The “reducing carbon emissions” part? I’m curious where John gets this idea. Yes, natural gas is better than coal. But that’s about it. Compared to just about everything else natural gas is a carbon nightmare. It’s made up predominantly of methane, one of the worst green house gases in existence. Compressor stations vent natural gas naturally as part of their function to the tune of tons of emissions per year.

If you know some union people who are pro-pipelines, don’t yell at them. Don’t get mad. Take them aside and point out the facts to them. Don’t let them be blind sided by a few thousand jobs for a year’s time of construction. Show them the bigger issues – the lies and deceit and blind profit-motive behind PennEast and their cheerleader the FERC.

John’s submission is available below:

John’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

John’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

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Mike Spille

I'm a thinker, an analyzer, a synthesizer. Maybe not in that order. I live in West Amwell NJ with my wife Kristina, our two kids Day and Z, our two dogs Fern and Cinna, and two cats Ponce de Leon and Xavier.

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