The PennEast Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is an example of a wretched copy-and-paste bureaucracy run amok in many ways. In the past month since it’s dropped we’ve heard endless stories of incomplete entries, missing information, inaccurate data, lack of references and citations, and areas where the DEIS is flat out simply wrong.
But we must give the Devil his due, and admit that sometimes a glimmer of truth fights it way out of the twisty passages of this commission. One such glimmer jumped out at me as I searched through the DEIS about the project’s supposed purpose and need. I searched high and wide in eleventy different areas of the DEIS, using various tools to ensure I wasn’t missing a hidden nook or cranny. I could scarcely believe it, but it was true.
The Concentric study, stating that the region would have saved $890 million if PennEast had existed several years ago during the Polar Vortex winter” IS NOT IN THE DEIS.
That’s right. PennEast’s magical time-machine study, where they have their consultants close their eyes and imagine a world where PennEast existed several years before it was even proposed, used a lot of hand waving and bogus math to somehow conclude that PennEast would have saved us $890 million if it had been around to save all our butts during that bitter, bitter winter. PennEast spokes people and champions made a HUGE deal out of this study, it was cited by many, many people, and even exaggerated out to <a href=”http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2015/03/study_sasy_penneast_pipeline_if_already_built_woul.html”>$1 BILLION DOLLARS!”</a>by some.
But, quietly and without fanfare, FERC decided not to reference that report anywhere in the DEIS. There are no mentions of Concentric. No $890 million in savings. No mentions of the Polar Vortex of related items. None. Zip. Nada.
What this means is that FERC realized that the report was utter and complete Grade-A Bull Shit, and decided that including it in the DEIS would leave FERC open to attack. So they dropped it.
As a result, the “Purpose and Need” section of the DEIS is a bare page and a half long. The PennEast raison d’être has been dramatically and powerfully weakened by this move.
Now skeptics will rightfully point out that FERC being FERC, they might have just left out all reports in the name of efficient rubber-stamping. But that is not the case. They do in fact cite other PennEast studies. Most notably, they did include the EConsult Solutions/Drexel University Jobs study in the DEIS (pages 4-155 4-158 in the DEIS, Socioeconomics section). I happen to disagree with this report as well, but FERC is saying they have enough confidence in it to include it in their report.
By leaving out the Concentric study, FERC is telling the world that the $890 million time machine study was a sham, a fake, and would not hold up to scrutiny. It’s time to go to all the politicians, legislators, and economic leaders in the region and let them know the truth. PennEast lied, the supposed savings are bogus, and this project is in fact going to cost everybody in the region plenty of money if it gets approved.