What: Meeting to discuss FERC approval and next steps on PennEast
Who: West Amwell Citizens Against the Pipeline
Guest speaker Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club
When: Wednesday, January 24th @ 7pm
Where: West Amwell Municipal Building, 150 Rocktown Lambertville Road
It’s January 19th, 2018. The news is swirling with warnings of an imminent government shutdown and political chaos. Everyone is preoccupied with the Senate and the President and the minute-by-minute negotiations.
At 7:56pm of that evening, FERC snuck their decision on the PennEast Pipeline project onto their website. That’s right. FERC decided the perfect time to post their decision was in the middle of the night on a Friday on the eve of a government shutdown.
Their decision (of course) was to approve the project. But it’s important people realize that this is not the end of the fight. It is merely the end of the beginning. We collectively always knew FERC would approve this project, and that the real decisions would be made by agencies such as the Delaware River Basin Commission and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection and others. Those agencies hold the real key to PennEast’s fate, and the ascension of Phil Murphy to the governorship in NJ gives me hope that those agencies will revert to enforcing environmental law as it should be.
But meanwhile, there’s a lot of work to do, and landowners along the PennEast route in particular are going to have a hard time ahead of them. PennEast is going to be taking many landowners to condemnation court. They’re going to be seeking injunctions to get early access to land for survey purposes. We have deep concerns PennEast may seek to get an early tree cutting approval from FERC prior to a March 31st tree clearing deadline, and wipe out trees along the route before they even have environmental approvals in place (approvals which we fully expect they will ultimately be DENIED). Based on past behavior, I have little doubt that some PennEast contractors will be once again trespassing and shrugging their shoulders and saying “oopsie!” if caught at it. But this time possibly with chainsaws in hand.
And we still have to lobby the DRBC and NJDEP to do the right thing and adhere to environmental regulations that are supposed to protect us from projects like PennEast.
Join us Wednesday, January 24th @7pm at the West Amwell Municipal building. We’ll talk about all this, answer your questions, and we’ll demonstrate that the FERC approval is really a “nothing burger” in the grand scheme of things, with the gigantic caveat that FERC’s eminent domain authority is going to mean a lot of pain and misery for directly impacted landowners in the coming days and weeks.
Remember, folks, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
FERC has not killed our hope, this is only the end of the beginning, and we still have every expectation that the PennEast Pipeline project will be killed in the coming months.