The EPA says they’re not going to rubber-stamp this pipeline

The EPA submitted comments recently about the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) required by this pipeline. It says in part:

On December 18, 2014 CEQ released revised draft guidance describing how Federal agencies should consider the effects ofgreenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change in NEPA reviews. In light ofthat guidance, agencies should consider both the potential effects ofa proposed action on climate change as indicated by its GHG emission; and the implications of climate change for the environmental effects of a proposed action. The Draft EIS should analyze GHG emissions associated with the construction and operation ofthe project, and from the production, transport and combustion ofthe natural gas. Provided is a link to the revised draft guidance:

http: //

According to the PennEast Pipeline website, portions of the project may be co-located in the same easement as existing utilities. Co-location may reduce losses ofnatural resources and is encouraged. The Draft EISshould describe the sections and acreages ofthe project that will be co-located, how the pipeline project will be integrated, and how construction and operation ofthe project will affect existing utilities.

Land requirements and environmental information for proposed pipeyards, wareyards and any secondary features of the project should be included in the Draft EIS to ensure the public has a complete picture of the environmental impacts of the project. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor, but collectively significant, actions taking place over a period of time. EPA recommends a thorough consideration of secondary and cumulative impact in the EIS. Additional suggestions and more detailed comments related to scoping ofthe study are enclosed with this letter.

The letter is in bureacratese, but it saying in no uncertain terms that The EPA knows what’s going on and they’re not going to let these pipelines get rubber-stamped by the FERC without a fight. The reference to the revised guidance to NEPA on green houses gases is pointed and a reminder to FERC that they are not above the law of the land.

It’s even more pointed where the EPA mentions cumulative impacts. I believe when they mention this – “Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor, but collectively significant, actions taking place over a period of time. EPA recommends athorough consideration ofsecondary and cumulative impact in the EI” – they aren’t just talking about PennEast. It’s a shot across FERCs bow that their plan of criss crossing the country with a network of pipelines and sneaking it past the EPA and other conservation organizations by studying them individually in isolation has failed.

The EPA continues in the technical section:

The NEPA document should include a clear and robust justification ofthe underlying purpose and need for the proposed project. In order for the project to move forward, FERC would need to issue a certificate of “public convenience and necessity”. We recommend discussing the proposal in the context of the broader energy market, describing the factors involved in determining whether there is or is not a truly “public” convenience and necessity for this facility.

If you decode that, it’s basically saying: “PennEast’s justification is a load of crap, and we both know it”. And there’s more!

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides for the listing of endangered and threatened species of plants and animals as well as the designation ofcritical habitat for listed species. The ESA prohibits the taking of any listed species without (for federal agencies) an “Incidental Take Statement.” The EIS should provide a description of terrestrial, wildlife and aquatic species in the study area. Any threatened or endangered species must be listed. Critical habitat for threatened or endangered species should be property identified. The EIS should describe the potential project impacts to these species. The most recent state and federal threatened and endangered species coordination letters should be included in the EIS. In addition, we recommend that the appropriate state and federal agencies be contacted annually at a minimum regarding these issues.

The EPA is telling the FERC that they better listen to environmental agencies and include their data in the EIS. Having the FERC send a surveyor out for a couple of days isn’t going to cut it.

We move on to farm lands:

In New Jersey, the proposed route for the PennEast pipeline appears to cross many farms preserved under the State of New Jersey Department of Agriculture Department preservation program. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement should discuss this program, how the pipeline construction and operation will impact the preserved farms in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and any necessary mitigation.

They have to detail in their EIS how they’re threatening preserved farms. They have to say how they’re mitigating impact. Which I’m not sure how they can – how do you mitigate loss of usable farm land? It’s not like we can manufacture some more to compensate.

The EPA also knows that pipeline accidents can and do happen. And PennEast has to include that in their EIS as well.

Hazardous sites/Spill concern

The pipeline has the potential to cross several areas that may have RCRA corrective action sites CERCLIS sites or on-going leaking underground storage tank cleanups. The Draft EIS should describe any potential hazardous waste cleanup sites in the vicinity ofthe project and how the project would affect active remediation sites.

A pipeline failure during the construction or operation can cause potential toxic environmental damage to water quality, various habitats, communities, flora, and fauna. EPA recommends that the draft EIS address the potential for such a failure, appropriate state- identified and FERC-identified Best Management Practices (BMP’s) for spill prevention. The Draft EIS should describe the capabilities of emergency operators along with necessary emergency plan and mitigation of spills in emergencies for all sections of the pipeline and all construction and use phases ofthe pipeline’s life.

Note that the EPA explicitly mentions the “capabilities of emergency operators along with necessary emergency plan and mitigation of spills in emergencies for all sections”. From my point of view, how are volunteer fire departments along the route that are already stretched thin for resources going to deal with a pipeline accident?

Traffic impacts are also mentioned – I’m glad to see that, not many people have talked about how construction is going to impact roads. Especially in rural communities when there aren’t a lot of options to get from Point A and Point B.

Tragic and Transportation: The EIS should address traffic and transportation as it
relates to the Proposed Action, especially during construction. It may be necessary to provide an evaluation of existing roads specifying existing levels of service at major intersections near the project area as well as accident data.

And then the EPA pulls out it’s heavy guns – and points them at FERC’s head:

Secondarv and Cumulative Impacts

The Council on Environmental Quality in 40 CFR 1508.7 implementing NEPA defines cumulative impacts as “impacts on the environment which result from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (federal or non-federal) or person undertakes such other actions.” The cumulative impacts analysis should consider the environmental impacts of the project as a whole and as one of a number of the other proposed and/or approved actions in the area that would have the potential to impact the same resources, including natural and community resources such as wetlands, air quality and EJ communities. This should include information on proposed and reasonably foreseeable projects in the study area ofLuzerne, Carbon, Northampton and Bucks Counties in Pennsylvania, and Hunterdon and Mercer Counties in New Jersey, documenting location, distance from the proposed project and description ofpotential cumulative impacts. These should include, but not be limited to: FERC jurisdictional projects, intrastate pipelines and compression, gathering pipelines, gas processing facilities, gas wells, and projects such as industrial or commercial facilities and other developments regardless ofwhether these actions are energy related or not, or whether or not FERC has jurisdiction over them.

We recommend focusing on resources or communities of concern, or resources “at risk”
which could be cumulatively impacted by all of the above actions. Please refer to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) guidance on “Considering Cumulative Effects Under the National Environmental Policy Act”, and EPA’s “Consideration ofCumulative Impacts in EPA Review of NEPA Documents” for further assistance in identifying appropriate spatial and temporal
boundaries for this analysis.

The EPA comes out and shoves the reality right back at the FERC: the EPA knows there are many pipelines and other energy projects being planned. Everybody knows it. So the EPA is demanding those projects be considered as part of the EIS and show their cumulative impact.

I have no idea if this will make a difference but if FERC does not follow the EPA’s recommendations it is, at the very least, an excellent basis for a law suit.

The FERC thinks that since they have sole approval authority they can ignore every other law in their quest for approving energy projects as fast as possible. This is in fact wrong. Laws often conflict with each other, and when that happens it’s the courts that decide.

Let’s hope if the FERC does continue to ignore other agencies that either our law makers fix the situation by taking sole approval authority away from the FERC. Or that towns and organizations impacted by their decisions successfully take them to court and prove their numerous violations of federal laws and Presidential directives.

The EPA’s complete submission is available below:

US EPA’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

US EPA’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Environmental and conservation regulations ignored by FERC and pipeline companies

I heard Mark Gallagher speak at the Hunterdon County FERC scoping meeting. He’s a VP with a firm called Princeton Hydro that’s dedicated to environmentally-sound engineering projects. His statements focused on reminding the FERC of the rules and regulations in this state, and rather pointedly showed some instances where FERC has been ignoring the rules.

His full submission to the FERC is available here:

Princeton Hydro statement – FERC Genereated PDF

Princeton Hydro statement – FERC Genereated PDF Alternate Site

I think the best part of this submission is near the end, where he states: “Difficulty in the application of the trenchless methods due to constraints such as lack of area or slope should not be used as the basis for an argument to use more invasive measures since these constraints should be viewed as self-induced since Penneast selected the route”.

In other words, Penneast can’t say “Aww, doing it the right way is too hard!”.

My comments are primarily related to the need for the FERC and PennEast to understand the regulatory requirements associated with the proposed pipeline route. From a regulatory perspective, Penneast could not have selected a more onerous pipeline route based on the environmental sensitivity of the area and the number of special protection waters that this pipeline would impact. However, based on other pipeline projects that have been granted findings of no-significant-impact by FERC it is unclear whether either FERC or Penneast has taken any relevant Federal regulations into account when planning this pipeline.

He goes on to talk about past pipelines that FERC approved – and which were found to be sorely lacking.

Previous pipeline applications including Transco’s Leidy Southeast Expansion Project have overlooked various Federal requirements during the scoping and NEPA proecess. After review of Transco’s current application to the NJDEP it is readily apparent that compliance with the Clean Water Act was not take seriously. As indicated above, New Jerseey has assumed jurisdiction of section 440 of the Clean Water Act and as such must implement this regulation as restrictively as the Army Corps of Engineers. However, whether it be a result of ignorance or arrogance the Federal regulations have not been fully applied in previous pipeline applications.

He goes on to illustrate the many issues along the route and what PennEast must do to to conform to regulations:

The route of the Penneast pipeline has shown little to no consideration for either antidegredation streams or the preserved lands along the route. Nonetheless Penneast must show compliance with section 40CFR230.10 of the Clean Water Act.

Section CFR40 230.75 describes the need to address the minimization of adverse effects on populations of plants and animals. […] Compliance with this section of 404(b) guidelines is extremely important with regard to the Penneast pipeline since the route crosses endangered habitat and antidegredation streams. Penneast must illustrate compliance with this section of the Clean Water Act as part of its need to obtain an Individual Frewshwater Wetland Permit from the DEP.

He goes on to illustrate what methods PennEast must use to stay in compliance with the various sections of the Clean Water Act:

In order to protect the sensitive aquatic resources of New Jersey, Penneast should seek full compliance with section 404 of the Clean Water Act and New Jersey antidegredation standards by by using trenchless crossing methods for, at a minimum, all sensitive waterways that are associated with Category 1 waters and endangered species habitat. The 404(b)(1) Guidelines require an alternatives analysis which addresses how impacts to waters and wetlands (waters of the United States) have been avoided or minimized. The alternatives analysis should address practicable alternatives to the discharge of dredged and fill material for each individual crossing of a wetland and/or waterbody. The proposed method of crossing should not be simply based on convenience but rather focus on the most ecologically sensitive alternatives in order to fully comply with New Jersey and Federal Regulations. Difficulty in the application of the trenchless methods due to constraints such as lack of area or slope should not be used as the basis for an argument to use more invasive measures since these constraints should be viewed as self-induced since Penneast selected the route.

In the end he takes FERC to task again, basically saying that if FERC were not involved this would be a whole other process – one much harder on PennEast, and they would have almost certainly chosen another route (or chosen not to play this game to begin with).

In conclusion if Penneast viewed this project as a typical applicant [to the NJ DEP], not one supported by FERC, and took even a little bit of time to understand the project regulatory constraints they may have more seriously considered the value of an alternative route that would have avoided the numerous antidegradation streams and other environmentally sensitive areas that they are proposing to impact.

Indeed. If this pipeline didn’t cross the Delaware this would be an NJ-only issue, and the proposition would have been dead in the water from day one. It’s only due to the FERC ignoring environmental regulations that we’re in this mess.

Pipelines criss-crossing the landscape

Maria from Wyoming, PA writes to the FERC to remind us that this isn’t about just one pipeline. There are many that have already been built, many more proposed, and some already approved. We may soon all face with what she already lives with in Luzerne County.

I am currently surrounded by the expanding gas industry infrastructure that has invaded my township and has disrupted the enjoyment of my property and the surrounding natural and scenic areas. UGIES already has a large high pressure Auburn II pipeline in close proximity to my home as well as a high pressure pipeline
interconnect, they wish to call a gate station. None of this current infrastructure built by UGI has benefited the residents of the area, and in fact thousands of residents including myself, do not even have natural gas service available. UGI has stated there are no plans for expanding local service from these facilities or any of its proposed future pipeline projects in my area. In addition, the Williams Transco pipeline is a few hundred feet from my home.

I have great concerns over the cumulative effect of all of these pipeline projects on the air quality and the threat of a lethal explosion looms over my home. The area I live in is not a remote desolate area as UGIES would like FERC to believe. I live in an R-1 zone which stands for residential, not remote. I have watched the destruction of wetlands around my home as these pipeline projects have cut through them, as well as increased erosion and water runoff problems on the mountainous terrain where I live. I fear more irreparable damage will be done by yet another pipeline adjacent to the existing ones in my area.

I have seen on my own personal property, the lack of competence when UGI simply needed to provide a new electrical service line underground to my home. They did not evaluate the situation and the environmental issues for this small project by comparison, and caused my home to be flooded and property to be damaged, by not providing proper drainage and releasing an underground water source into my home. In addition, to this present day they never performed any proper restoration to my property. Using this experience as a reference, how can I possibly believe that UGIES will have the ethics and competence to handle such a huge undertaking as the PennEast pipeline? They simply will not.

In considering the scope of this proposed project, I urge FERC to consider the environmental impact and damage in a cumulative way. This is one of several existing and proposed pipelines to invade the area. The track record has been poor so far from what I have seen. I am living with it in my back yard and speak from personal experience. I also fear for the Susquehanna River Levee system as this pipeline project proposes tunneling in close proximity to it and under the river itself. The history of flooding in the Wyoming Valley is widely documented and this levee system is the greatest form of protection.

In conclusion, I sincerely hope that FERC can truly look at this project with objective and impartial eyes, despite the fact that your agency is funded by fees paid to you by the gas Companies themselves, such as UGI. Please protect the citizens of Luzerne County PA as well as all the citizens along this proposed PennEast pipeline route

You can read her submission below:

Maris’ submission – FERC Generated PDF

Maris’ submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Historic Stockton Farm Threatened by Pipeline

Dan and Carla from Stockton, NJ writes to the FERC:

Our property is a preserved farm of approximately 137 acres in Delaware Township NJ. The preferred alternative route for the pipeline that is currently proposed by PennEast would traverse the entire length of our acreage. We oppose this pipeline for many reasons which are of an economic, environmental, and legal basis.

First of all, economically, our farm would lose significant value if this pipeline is allowed to bisect it. The proposed alternative route appears to be very close to our residence. Assurances from PennEast employees notwithstanding, all real estate professionals with whom we have spoken have opined that property values would decrease dramatically. How does PennEast intend to compensate us for what we anticipated to be our retirement nest egg? The pittance they hope to pay for a right of way could not begin to approach the loss we will incur if our residence is located within the “impact zone” of a natural gas pipeline.

Many farmers have documented the loss of crop yields on land they use after pipelines have been constructed. We worked hard to establish high quality hay fields, on which we use minimal chemicals. The construction & maintenance of a natural gas pipeline through our farm fields will cause compaction of our loam soils, some of which have been rated as prime & in the top seventy five percentile of statewide importance. How does PennEast intend to protect our soils, allowing them to produce as they do now? The techniques currently employed to minimize damage to the soil strata have been shown as ineffective. The damage cannot be undone once the soil is torn apart & the layers separated. We will lose the use of our prime hay fields as well as suffer reduced yields where we are still able to farm.

Our farm is also of historical significance, having been in operation since the 1700s. In front of our house is a stone hitching post, next to a stone wagon mounting block. We have uncovered old wells & cisterns which were built with stones. The property is contingent to the Rosemont Agricultural Historical District in the area of New Jersey’s only remaining covered bridge.

Environmentally, there are many considerations. The first would be the already mentioned soil compaction. We also have two ponds, one of which is fed by Plum Brook, a stream traversing the northern, wooded section of our farm. Plum Brook is home to minks, beaver, & muskrat, to name a few. The brook feeds into the Wickecheoke Creek, which makes its way to the Delaware River. The pond in our forest contains many fish, including bass & many species of turtles. The pipeline is proposed to cut through Plum Brook, which will cause devastation to the wildlife habitat. To the south of Plum Brook is an open grassland area which we provide for the birds who nest in such areas. Bobolinks & Eastern Meadowlarks live here and breed; their numbers are in decline due to a lack of territory, so we feel it is necessary to set aside land where they will be able to thrive. Another bird in decline that we are involved in trying to help is the threatened American Kestrel. Our farm has been part of the New Jersey American Kestrel Nest Box Project for the past 5 or 6 years, allowing the state to place the nesting boxes on the utility poles which cross our hay fields. Many baby kestrels have been born & banded here. Putting this pipeline adjacent to the power line will increase the already hot summer temperatures, making the survival of these precious babies less likely.

Legally, we have concerns about the selection of preserved farmland for a pipeline. As owners of a preserved farm, we are legally obligated to abide by five pages of deed restrictions. One of these restrictions reads as follows:

“No sand, gravel, loam, rock, or other minerals shall be deposited on or removed from the Premises excepting only those materials required for the agricultural purpose for which the land is being used.”

Another restriction follows:

“No activity shall be permitted on the Premises which would be detrimental to drainage, flood control, water conservation, erosion control, or soil conservation, nor shall any other activity be permitted which would be detrimental to the continued agricultural use of the Premises.”.
How can we be bound by law to uphold restrictions to the use of our property, yet a private company could be allowed by the FERC to violate those legal encumbrances?

We have sacrificed & struggled to return this farm from the neglected, fallow fields we originally found here, to a productive, self sufficient homestead. Our electricity is completely solar generated. We grow our own vegetables & hay for our horses. We try to live frugally, with respect for the land, mindful of our carbon footprint. We pay our taxes & our mortgage. This is our dream, the American Dream. Allowing the PennEast pipeline to be constructed through our farm would turn that dream into a nightmare. We will stand with our neighbors & refuse to allow this private, for-profit LLC access to our land. No action should be the determination by FERC in PennEast’s bid to destroy our preserved lands.

Like Dan and Carla I don’t understand how eminent domain can be used to take away land protected by the state. Doing a little research I came upon the following article – this discusses electrical power lines instead of gas ones, but I believe the principles are the same:

Protected Conservation Easements from Eminent Domain

The article states:

With respect to property owned wholly by a private entity, the FERC permit would entitle the permit holder to acquire a necessary right-of-way by eminent domain if the holder could not acquire the right-of-way through negotiation with the property owner. The court with jurisdiction over the condemnation proceedings would determine the just compensation owed, which would be the fair market value of the property on the date of the condemnation (including applicable severance damages).26
FERC permit holders may not, however, condemn property owned by the United States or a state. The 824p(e) exception states:

In the case of a permit under subsection (b) for electric transmission facilities to be located on property other than property owned by the United States or a State, . . . the permit holder may acquire the right-of-way by the exercise of the right of eminent domain[.]
(Emphasis added.) Thus, because the exception precludes the use of eminent domain, if FERC were to issue a permit for a transmission facility slated to cross any federal or state property, the permit holder would need to reach agreement with the federal or state agency responsible for managing that property in order to obtain a right-of-way.27

The scope of the 824p(e) exception is uncertain. Whether the exception prohibits condemnation of partial interests in land (such as conservation easements) held or co-held by federal or state government has not been indicated by Congress and not yet determined by a court. The 824p(e) exception will apply to partial interests in land to the extent that these interests are considered “property,” and can be “owned.” Conservationists and some land management agencies presumably will seek an expansive interpretation of these terms to maximize the scope of the 824p(e) exception. DOE, FERC, and utility companies, in contrast, are likely to seek a narrow interpretation of these terms to maximize siting options.

So the question becomes, can farmland and Open Spaces protected by NJ open spaces easements be protected in this manner? I wish I knew the answer. I know all local conservation organizations up to the county level are against the pipeline (the Hunterdon County Board of Freeholders gave a resounding speech against the pipeline last night at the FERC scoping meeting). I have several state representatives and senators are against the pipeline. But I haven’t found any documentation on state agencies weighing in.

Carla and Dan’s submission is below:

Carla and Dan’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

Carla and Dan’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Professor Tullis Onstott provides his formal evaluation to FERC

Prof. Tullis C. Onstott of the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University has been mentioned here and in people’s submissions before. He objects to the pipeline route due to the concentrations of arsenic in Hunterdon county and the amount of it that will be released into our drinking water and waterways if this pipeline is built.

Impact of Pipeline on Drinking Water
Although no specifics have been given as to the depth of the pipeline, the 3‐foot diameter pipeline will require a depth of cover of at least 3 feet below the surface, and, more likely 4 feet below the surface where the pipeline crosses many farmlands in Hunterdon County (as specified by the USDOT regulations at 49CFR192). This means the pipeline trench will need to by 7.5 feet deep and because most of the soil in Hunterdon County is less than 32 to 64 inches10, the bedrock will have to be excavated. This means that the trench construction, which will in some cases require blasting, will fracture, shatter, excavate, deposit at the surface in spoil piles and rebury arsenic‐rich shale exposing it to aerobic conditions. Horizontal Directional Drilling beneath the streams and creeks will crush the bedrock into fine‐grained sand and silt size particles and release arsenic into the drilling mud pits.

The professor goes onto to explain what this means in layman’s terms using an analogy.

To give you a better idea of the consequences of this construction phase imagine you are holding one kilogram piece of Lockatong argillite that has 100 ppm of arsenic. One kilogram is about the size of my fist. If you break it up and leach all of the arsenic from that rock and put it into a 1 liter bottle of Fiji water, the arsenic concentration of the water will be ~250 ppm. The MCL is 5 ppb, so I would have to dilute the water in that bottle with an additional 50,000 liters of Fiji water. In reality the Hunterdon County ground water is not Fiji water and already has elevated arsenic, but I’ll give PennEast a break and say that we would only need to dilute the water in that bottle with ~100,000 liters of Hunterdon County’s best well water. That is only about ~25,000 gallons of well water, which is not that much. If I poured 100,000 liters of water on to the surface of a farm in Hunterdon County, it would fill a 1,000,000 liter volume of the surficial aquifer, reasonably assuming a ~10% porosity. This is equivalent to 1,000 cubic meters. Given that the surficial aquifer is only ~1 meter deep in Hunterdon County, this corresponds to ~30 meter square patch (or ~100 feet by 100 feet) of farmland, which is really not much of an impacted area. The 100‐ foot length is about the width of the temporary ROW for the pipeline, if I understand this correctly. But how many kilograms of Lockatong argillite will be excavated, broken up, exposed to air and reburied into the trench within that ROW? How much of the Lockatong argillite around the trench will be fractured by the blasting? I will give PennEast a break here and just say that the trench is only 2 meters deep by 1 meter wide (it will certainly be larger than this), and I will assume that there is no arsenic in the upper 1 meter. This means that a ~30 meter long pipeline trench will expose ~75,000 kilograms of Lockatong argillite or about 75 metric tons. This is not a lot of rock (about three dump truck loads), but if it contains 100 ppm of arsenic, then it would have to be diluted with 75,000,000,000 liters of Hunterdon County groundwater in order for the arsenic concentration to be reduced below 5 ppb. That is a large volume of water. Another way of thinking about it is to assume that all of the arsenic was released from the 75 metric tons of Lockatong argillite into the 30 by 30 meters of 1‐meter deep surficial aquifer. The arsenic concentration would then be ~180 ppm, but I’ll give PennEast a break and say it is just 100 ppm to make the math easier. So to dilute it down to 5 ppb, you would need a 20,000x dilution factor for 100,000 liters of ground water. To visualize this volume, it would represent a 30‐meter wide strip of land extending perpendicular to the pipeline on both sides for a distance of 300 kilometers (it is just 2×10,000×30 meters), or 216 miles! The average diffusive groundwater velocities in this region are ~1 foot a day, so it would take ~2,500 years give or take a thousand, to dilute the arsenic plume by normal groundwater recharge.

Of course not all of the Lockatong and Passaic formation shale is 100 ppm and not all of the arsenic will be released during the excavation and blasting, but you can easily see that even if a mere fraction of the arsenic is released, that it will have a severe impact on the arsenic concentrations of the privately owned wells down gradient from the pipeline for more than the 30 year operational lifetime of the pipeline. We do know the range of arsenic concentrations in these two formations, but we do not know specifically what the arsenic concentration is of the bedrock along the proposed PennEast Pipeline route. We also do not know what form that arsenic is in within the bedrock along the proposed pipeline route, whether it is soluble arsenic or arsenopyrite or some other arsenic phase. But neither does PennEast know. This needs to be determined for the Environmental Impact Statement.

He goes onto explain the many, many threats there are to the pipeline’s integrity and the many, many ways arsenic can be released not just by the pipeline construction but also by its ongoing operations. I urge you to read his report in full.

The report also has a number of startling pictures to demonstrate what he’s talking about. This image shows the arsenic concentrations and the pipeline route. Sadly the route goes right through the highest arsenic concentrations in the state of NJ.

It shows the route crossing the Ramapo Fault System:

It goes right through water recharge zones – the zones are colored in blue:

The report goes on and on about the risks this pipeline poses to our health and environment, and provides a litany of things PennEast will have to do to even provide a basic measure of safety throughout the pipeline’s lifetime.

Please, go read his report below at one of these two sites:

Professor Onstott’s Statements – FERC Generated PDF

Professor Onstott’s Statements – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

The Nishisakawick Creek

Eric from Frenchtown, NJ writes about the threat the pipeline is to the environment around his home on the Nishisakawick Creek. The story quickly goes from talking about bald eagle citings to mention of a horrific 36″ gas pipeline explosion in the 90s in Edison, NJ:

I have read just about every comment submitted to date, regarding the proposed PennEast pipeline – I’m sure FERC has, as well. Aside from a handful of comments from individuals, ALL of the remarks favoring this project (perhaps a dozen) are from those that will directly profit from it. Utility companies & union representatives are all raving about the public benefit. This is in stark contrast to the hundreds of comments from the land owners, local governments, scientists, environmental groups, and individuals who view this project as a potential disaster. Why?

For the record, I live in Frenchtown, NJ and my home is adjacent to the Nishisakawick Creek. This stream has a C1 classification and for good reason. It is home to many species of animals that are endangered and/or threatened through loss of habitat. Three weeks ago, my wife and I had the pleasure of watching this bald eagle hunting next to our house:

As of 2012, there were only 119 breeding pairs of eagles in the state of NJ. Over the years I have also had the joy of viewing goshawk, bobcat, and corn snakes in our backyard, which are all classified as endangered by the NJDEP. Not to mention, the black bear, owls, heron, fox, coyote, deer, and dozens of other species that make regular appearances during the year. The stream is pristine and FERC should reject the PennEast proposal, out-of-hand, on this basis alone.

However, aside from the huge environmental impact this project will have, I am equally concerned about my family’s safety. Our home is located well within the thermal radius of the pipeline should it rupture. And in spite of all of the assurances from PennEast, NO ONE can erase the memory I have of the Durham Woods pipeline explosion in 1994. The flames were so high, I thought that my neighbor’s house was on fire, yet we were over 25 miles away. If this were to happen in Hunterdon, putting out the ensuing fires would be next to impossible, as our rural community relies on water tanker shuttles. Just how will PennEast handle a massive forest fire fueled by thousands of cubic feet per second of natural gas? Put simply, they can’t.

I took the time to carefully read PennEast’s “Draft Resource Report 1 and Summary of Alternatives.” In my humble opinion, the sections outlining project necessity and project alternatives were inadequate to say the least. According to PennEast’s report, the binding reservations during their “open season” demonstrated the need for this project. This is fallacious, as it only proves that members of the PennEast consortium (Spectra, UGI et al) want access to cheaper natural gas. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the existing pipeline infrastructure in NJ/NY can meet current firm demand without any problem. And recently, FERC has approved many major pipeline improvement projects to address future demand. Expansion projects with expected in-service dates between 2013 and 2015 have or will “add at least 3.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of additional capacity to New York/New Jersey and Mid-Atlantic markets.” These include the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co.’s Leidy Southeast Expansion & Virginia Southside Expansion Projects, Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s Line 300 Expansion, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co.’s Bayonne Delivery Lateral Project, Algonquin Gas Transmission’s Hubline/East to West Project, and Texas Eastern’s Transmission pipeline expansion project from Linden, New Jersey to Manhattan, New York.

New Jersey is already awash in gas transmission pipelines meeting current & future demand, and yet the gas industry insists that we need more. This is complete and utter nonsense and we certainly don’t need to cut across every Category One stream in our state to have another.

The explosion he mentions was written up in the New York times. According to the wikipedia article on the explosion:,_New_Jersey_natural_gas_explosion

…was caused by a rupture in a 36″ natural gas pipeline.  Not too coincidentally, PennEast is a 36″ natural gas pipeline.

Eric’s submission is available below:

Eric’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

Eric’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site