Jeff Tittel, the humorless true believer at the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club has stubbed his toe on the PennEast pipeline.
Something very curious took place this past Tuesday. The New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club, one of several paid shills acting on behalf of the William Penn Foundation, circulated a news release by e-mail. The whole thing may be found here. This release was apparently circulated by Jeff Tittel’s administrative assistant but somehow never made it on the organization’s website, on its Facebook page or into any newspapers. It’s not hard to see why after reading the thing. One can just imagine Tittel scrambling to call media and pull it back, in fact, when the subject of his release, the PennEast Pipeline folks, called him out on what can only be called the Washington’s U-Turn Crossing lie.
Did you now Washington crossed the Delaware twice in his attack on the King’s Troops and the Hessians, making a big u-turn across the river? Well, not exactly, but that’s the sort of foolishness the Sierra Club’s Jeff Tittel apparently wanted people in Bucks County to believe about the PennEast pipeline. As incredible as it may seem, he even provided this map illustrating his bogus claim about a PennEast Pipeline re-routing near the real Washington’s Crossing:
Yes, amazing as it may seem, this is what Tittel actually claimed (emphasis added):
The day before Thanksgiving PennEast has proposed an alternative route for their proposed pipeline to the FERC Docket. Their new route includes 80 different deviations and two more crossings of the Delaware River. This 20-mile change is to get around important sites like Goat Hill, the Lambertville Reservoir, Howell Farm, and Baldpate Mountain. The route instead now targets Solebury, Buckingham, Newton and other towns in Pennsylvania. It would cross into New Jersey above New Hope and back into Pennsylvania near Delaware Ave, in Ewing.
“PennEast’s new alternative 20-mile route targets central Bucks County, including areas like New Hope, Washington’s Crossing, Solebury, Newton and more. This would cause much more environmental devastation and destruction along the way. The longer route means more wetlands and streams will be disrupted and polluted by drilling. Places like Delaware Township and Holland Twp. will see more HDD since PennEast can now use permit-by-rule instead of individual permits. The addition of two more River crossing creates twice as much chance for pollution and degradation to the Delaware,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This route will mean more people put in harm’s way and more waterways being threatened. We’re going to need more people from the Pennsylvania side to join us in our fight against this pipeline. If we want to stop PennEast we have to stand together.”
How naive or scheming does a fractivist have to be to believe or push the idea PennEast would actually propose a u-turn across the Delaware River? That PennEast would want to secure two more crossing permits? That it would want, so as to avoid New Jersey, to reroute through more of trendy Bucks County where opposition money grows on trees? That PennEast would so foolish as to propose such major changes at this point in a long hearing process? This was either a stupendous act of stupidity or a brazen attempt to spread a blatant lie. There is no in-between.
PennEast was quick to respond:
The PennEast Pipeline Company has not submitted a recent alternative route with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as deceptively claimed by the New Jersey Sierra Club in a November 29 news release.
PennEast has not submitted route alternatives since the end of September, when it announced 33 route modifications largely in response to input from landowners, agencies and others. “This is the latest example of the New Jersey Sierra Club and its director Jeff Tittel spreading misinformation, deceiving communities and making inflammatory statements about the Project,” said Pat Kornick, PennEast spokesperson. “The irresponsible release might bode well for Sierra Club fundraising, though such questionable credibility hinders honest, factual dialogue about the Project.”
In a November response filed with FERC in part at the request of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, PennEast details the significant additional impacts that would occur to avoid designated Important Bird Areas (IBAs). PennEast’s response concludes “It is preferable to utilize the currently proposed route and minimize impacts to the IBA and migratory birds by utilizing the appropriate avoidance and minimization measures.” Using the information submitted at the request of FERC, Tittel falsely overstates the number of route deviations that PennEast has filed since its original application in September 2015.
“It is clear that PennEast has NOT recommended submitting the route to which Jeff Tittel refers, and while disconcerting, it is not surprising that he would mischaracterize it this way,” said Kornick. “When other mitigation measures are available, it is ludicrous to suggest that PennEast would propose adding 20 miles to the length of the Project and to cross the Delaware River not once, but twice. He either was sloppy in his reading of PennEast’s response or he intentionally misrepresented it. Either scenario demonstrates that neither he nor the New Jersey Sierra Club can be trusted as a credible source, particularly regarding the PennEast Pipeline.”
That response went out almost immediately after Tittel circulated his release and it appears he, then, immediately went into high gear pulling it back. Perhaps, he realized the inevitable comparisons that were coming with other fractivist lies. Perhaps, it occurred to him the William Penn Foundation and other big money funders of the Sierra Club and his own efforts might not be happy with him being caught with his pants down. Perhaps, it suddenly dawned on him that a u-turn pipeline crossing just wasn’t that believable. Perhaps, he just woke up.