People who live in towns affected by the PennEast pipeline are getting fed up with the obvious deficiencies in the FERC process, and over time they are learning where all the cracks and faults and problems lie. And they’re starting to bring all that information together and present it back to the FERC. The hope is that perhaps the new FERC head, Norman Bay, will start a serious round of introspection and meditate on what FERC’s true role is in the industry. And to possibly reconsider their what their legal responsibilities and moral obligations are when energy companies start exceeding all common sense and propose new projects with reckless abandon and little or no concern for people who are impacted.
Lorraine from Milford, NJ is one of the people leading this charge, and I hope you all will lend your voice to hers and echo her sentiment. Lorraine is talking about recent peaceful protests in Washington D.C. against the FERC, and how they are violating people’s rights while turning a blind eye to energy company’s misdeeds. She submitted this comment to the FERC today:
Lorraine Crown, Milford, NJ.
Re: FERC Utilizing Homeland Security to Deny the Public Access to its Public Meetings
I have seen several videos taken yesterday, May 14, 2015 from the FERC meeting in Washington D.C.
I am writing to say the following: the community members who oppose the PennEast Pipeline and other pipeline projects and who attend public meetings with the pipeline company, FERC scoping sessions and your commission meetings, are citizens, taxpayers, landowners, and voters – fully recognized stakeholders in the FERC process. To treat this community as though we are eco-terrorists who require the heavy hand of Homeland Security to make sure we don’t become dangerous and to deny our presence at meetings is absurd, unjust and possibly illegal.
Most of the community members who attend public meetings to voice their concerns with PennEast, other pipeline companies, and FERC, have gray hair and are farmers and families. Any protest against FERC organized by BXE has been peaceful and respectful – their stated mission, and our right as citizens of the United States. In all of the many public meetings that I have attended on the proposed PennEast project – all of which had extreme police presence completely out of scope for the nearly zero crime rates in the communities in which these meetings took place – the only time there was ever a disturbance, it was caused by a PRO-PennEast attendee who screamed obscenities at the audience as he stormed out.
We are reaching out to our legislators – and to our lawyers – to put a stop to this harassment of citizens attempting to exercise our free speech and to fully engage the regulatory process that impacts our lives. FERC is not a neutral or fair actor in this process when it allows the PennEast and other pipeline companies to dismiss stakeholder concerns outright in their meetings with the public and with landowners, and in their Response to Scoping reports; when it fails to sufficiently examine cumulative impact; and when it makes a mockery of the critical scoping process by not allowing communities adequate time to complete environmental impacts on continuous route changes, or to schedule sufficient scoping meetings; and when it implies by heavy police presence at its meetings, that its stakeholders are dangerous and criminal. Citizens – not eco-terrorists – have been shown by FERC that our interests are meaningless and are being ignored in the regulatory process, which appears to be nothing more than a “going through the motions” exercise on the way to FERC rubber stamping the next pipeline project.
Milford (Holland Township), New Jersey
Cc: NJ Senator Mike Doherty
NJ Assemblyman John DiMaio
NJ Assemblyman Erik Peterson
Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman
Representative Leonard Lance
NJ Senator Shirley Turner
US Senator Corey Booker
US Senator Robert Menendez
Department of Homeland Security
Her comment is available below: