More local residents have expressed their outrage at PennEast’s awful scoping comments responses.
Janice from West Amwell NJ submitted a hand-written note to the FERC lambasting the company for dropping many of their scoping questions and lumping whole groups together into large categories without any real details being addressed. She writes (apologies for any typos, this is hand-transcribed by me):
This letter is in regard to the March 13, 2015 PennEast response to the scoping comments on Docket No. PF 15-1-000. My husband and I spent considerable time and energy to convey our most sincere concerns, objections, and questions in both our written and verbal scoping comments of which many were excluded from the PennEast response report. The PennEast report therefore is incomplete and unacceptable. Becauseit is PE’s and the FERC’s responsibilities to provide and monitor a thorough response report, we demand that our verbal and written scoping comments be re-read and satisfactorily reported in a specific manner addressing our concerns and answering our questions.
It is not our job to do yours or PennEast’s!
PennEast’s responses lumped concerns in general categories and did not reflect much thought or consideration to individual comments or concerns. We understand that our omissions are a common place poor practice that PennEast routinely provides and ask that you require PennEast to correct our omissions and mistakes, and accurately report on all comments made – reflecting its specific content in PennEast’s categories for a fair and just scoping and EIS process. Thank you.
Kim from Lambertville, NJ is a bit more…pointed…in her criticism of PennEast’s response:
I will be brief. The “Response” that PennEast provided to the scoping comments was a joke, and can be viewed as nothing more. Even FERC must admit that thousands of pages of extremely detailed, substantiated
comments and scientific arguments cannot be addressed with a couple of paragraphs of what appears to be boilerplate language. Very, very few concerns received what I would consider an actual response. Many parties
have already pointed out that a huge number of concerns brought up in scoping comments were not even listed, let alone addressed, and some of my comments too, fell into that category, including many concerns regarding the safety of the proposed line. In addition, many names were missing, or listed under the wrong classification, including, I believe, my own. It seems that even the simplest task of listing all commenters
and knowing if each is a landowner or not was beyond the capabilities of PennEast. How can you possibly approve ANY project under PE’s direction that involves high pressure gas, or anything else of a dangerous nature? They haven’t even mastered Microsoft Office. (Perhaps this explains the safety records and number of people killed by the companies involved.)
But back to the response. PennEast begins its response by indicating that said response is pursuant to 18 C.F.R. § 157.21(f)(9), which says, “Upon the Director’s issuance of a notice commencing a prospective applicant’s pre-filing process, the prospective applicant must… (9) Within 14 days of the end of the scoping comment period, respond to issues raised during scoping.” Surely implied in that requirement is a certain level of adequacy of the required response. Otherwise, a company could simply write a response that said “Pipelines are good”, and it would qualify. I would therefore ask FERC to please define for me the criteria that constitute an adequate response, and explain how PE’s response met those criteria. Clearly, even if the rudimentary task of accurately listing all scoping comment topics, and the people who commented on them, followed by boiler plate language that is copied from one pipeline project to another was FERC’s definition of an adequate response, PE failed.
And that brings me to my next question. What are the consequences of PE’s failure to comply with 18 C.F.R. § 157.21(f)(9)? Hopefully denial of the project. This project SHOULD be denied, based on, if nothing else, the ineptitude of the companies involved.
Thank you, and I look forward to your response.
I can only agree with Janice and Kim, PennEast’s response is wholly inadequate and really is a slap in the face to everyone who worked hard to provide details comments to the FERC. Beyond the time of individuals you also have to consider the time and effort and money spent by municipalities and organizations along the route. I know West Amwell have spent a tremendous amount of time analyzing the route and coming up with very detailed issues they are considered about, and PennEast more or less ignored them. The same is true of other townships here and in PA.
I can only hope that under the new FERC director, Norman Bay, that FERC starts enforcing their regulations and takes PennEast to task for this pitiful response. If not, all I can say is that we have the basis for a number of lawsuits against both the FERC and PennEast right here. If FERC won’t do its job maybe the courts will force them to.