DRBC Caving Into Pressure to Hassle PennEast Pipeline

shel cracker - Jim Willis reportsJim Willis
Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)


The DRBC, once again, is ignoring their legal boundaries and acting like they have some sort of power over the approval of the PennEast Pipeline.

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), charged with overseeing potential impacts on the Delaware River and the various tributaries that feed it, has once again stepped outside of its legal bounds. The PennEast Pipeline is a $1 billion, 118-mile pipeline from Luzerne County, PA to Mercer County, NJ–part of it through the Delaware River Basin area.

In 2014 the DRBC tried to tell PennEast and its sponsors that the pipeline will need their approval before it can be built. There’s just one teeny tiny problem with that called the U.S. Constitution. The pipeline is regulated solely by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), not any other agency, including the quasi-governmental DRBC.

PennEast told them as much. But silly little things like laws don’t stop power-mad fractivists or the people like those at the DRBC who run in fear of them. Last summer FERC, in a bid to be gracious to the fractivist suck-ups at the DRBC, agreed to hold one joint hearing on the PennEast with the DRBC. The DRBC has now, after all that, decided it will take its marbles and go home, which means playing Maya van Rossum’s game and doing the bidding of their common funder, the elitist and very political William Penn Foundation.

Yesterday, the DRBC informed FERC, by letter, that they will no longer participate in the joint hearing with FERC and will, instead, hold their own hearings (plural) on the PennEast. The DRBC is clearly operating outside of its charter. The DRBC news got THE Delaware Riverkeeper (“Delaware Povertykeeper” here at NaturalGasNOW) titillated.


Maya van Rossum

Here’s a news story about DRBC’s decision:

The federal-state Delaware River Basin Commission said Monday it will conduct its own public hearings on the natural gas PennEast Pipeline proposed to pass through its territory.

These hearings are on hold until 2017, the commission said in announcing the withdrawal of its request for a joint public hearing with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on the proposal.

The announcement comes as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, last month set a deadline of March 16, 2017, for its decision on authorizing the pipeline.

PennEast had requested a certificate of public convenience and necessity from FERC by Aug. 1, 2016, ahead of construction beginning in the third quarter of this year.

The consortium of energy companies remains on schedule to build the pipeline in the second half of 2018, PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC spokeswoman Patricia Kornick said Monday.

The $1.13 billion pipeline would carry 1.1 million dekatherms per day of natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale production region in and around Luzerne County to distribution lines along the route, which would terminate in Mercer County, New Jersey. PennEast says that’s enough natural gas for 4.7 million Pennsylvania and New Jersey homes.

It needs approval from the Delaware River Basin Commission for the temporary withdrawal and discharge of about 45.26 million gallons per day of water for pipeline testing, drilling and ancillary functions, such as dust control, according to documents submitted to the commission.

The basin commission is responsible for managing the water resources within the 13,539 square-mile Delaware River Basin. Its five commission members are the governors of the basin states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania) and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, representing the federal government.Environmental groups applauded Monday’s announcement by the basin commission, which promised multiple public hearings on the pipeline proposed to cross the Lehigh, Delaware and 86 other major waterways, according to a tally from the New Jersey Sierra Club.

“This will slow down this project even more and give us a better chance to stop it,” club President Jeff Tittel said in a statement. “This pipeline is a threat to water quality and the environment in the Delaware River Valley and that is why we are glad to see that the DRBC will hold their own process in examining the pipeline.”

Tittel said the project would affect thousands of Pennsylvania and New Jersey residents. PennEast argues the project will benefit residents of both states through lower rates for natural gas and electricity generated by burning the fossil fuel.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network had requested the basin commission hold its own public hearing process.

“This is an important step in securing an independent, accessible and fully transparent hearing process from the Delaware River Basin Commission,” Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the network, said in a statement Monday. “It also shows us that the DRBC is listening to the concerns of the public and wants to instill public confidence in their decision-making process.”

Here’s the DRBC’s “we’re taking our marbles and going home” letter to FERC:

By a letter dated April 25, 2016 to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has withdrawn its request for a joint public hearing and public meeting on the PennEast project. The DRBC will conduct separate hearings on the proposed project.

The DRBC is committed to a process that affords individuals the opportunity to comment on issues of concern to them that relate to the basin’s water resources. Because of the high level of interest in the PennEast project, the DRBC expects to conduct multiple public hearings in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the states where the project is proposed to be located. DRBC does not currently anticipate holding hearings during calendar year 2016. These yet-to-be-scheduled hearings for the proposed PennEast project will be conducted separately from the DRBC’s regularly scheduled quarterly public hearings.

DRBC is committed to holding safe, secure, and orderly public hearings as part of a public input process that will include opportunities for both oral and written comments. Planning for this process will advance concurrently with DRBC’s ongoing technical review of PennEast’s application throughout 2016. A formal public comment period will be announced and comments will be actively solicited upon publication of the DRBC’s draft docket. Additional information on DRBC’s PennEast public comment process, including public hearing dates, times, locations, and procedures will be provided on the commission’s web site at www.drbc.net as soon as these details become available. In the interim, written comments on the project may be emailed to penneastapp@drbc.nj.gov.

Individuals and organizations wishing to be added to the DRBC’s Interested Parties List (IPL) for the proposed PennEast project should send their name, organization (if applicable), mailing address and email information to penneastapp@drbc.nj.gov or by U.S. mail to DRBC, Attn.: Project Review Section, P.O. Box 7360, 25 State Police Drive, West Trenton, NJ 08628. Parties on the IPL will receive public notices concerning the project directly when they are issued.

It’s time to flood the DRBC with communication regarding the PennEast!

Individuals and organizations may be added to DRBC’s Interested Parties List (IPL) for the PennEast Pipeline project by providing your name, organization (if applicable), address and email information to penneastapp@drbc.nj.gov or sending your contact information by mail to:

Attn.: Project Review Section
P.O. Box 7360
25 State Police Drive
West Trenton, NJ 08628

Those on the IPL will receive direct notice of information related to DRBC’s review, including the Notice of Application Received (NAR), Public Hearing Notice, etc., when issued. This is a similar tactic used by THE Delaware Riverkeeper to inundate FERC, by having people (and their children) sign up as interveners. Hey, if it works for them, maybe it will work for us. Flood the DRBC with simple requests to be on their IPL and when it comes time for public comments, you, your kids, your pets, everybody provide comments to this lawless organization. All you need to say is something like this, making sure to provide your name, address and e-mail, if applicable:

Please place me on the DRBC’s Interested Parties List for the PennEast Pipeline project so I may receive notices of DRBC activity. 

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3 thoughts on “DRBC Caving Into Pressure to Hassle PennEast Pipeline

  1. Assuming there are no water withdrawals related to the project, this would mean that the DRBC would have the authority to review the equivalent of all major transportation projects like highways, roads, bridges, railways and other transportation systems? Is this really in their charter? I can see stormwater issues ?

  2. http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20160429_Letters__Independent_review_of_PennEast_Pipeline_is_key.html

    Here is an opinion on the “dangerous” project being reviewed by drbc from Jeff tittell of the Sierra club. It should be taken as an opinion from an antifracking activist who opposes all natural gas pipelines in new Jersey and as an opinion from an antifracking activist who has been quoted and filmed saying the now vetoed port Ambrose LNG import project was actually secretly and conspiratorially an export project. In other words his word is not so good.

    I noticed there was a lot of paperwork on the drbc website on the proposal supplied by the company which flies in the face of the narrative fractivists would like people to believe…that the companies submit no more than a post it not fornferc and other agencies to weigh.

    Perhaps the drbc hearing will be an opportunity for a constructive hearing though the track record of fractivists at hearings past is the opposite. In any case it would seem reporters should get up to speed on the process before attending or writing the kind of poor stories they currently do on pipeline proposals and process.

  3. “The elitist and very political William Penn Foundation”

    William Penn would roll over in his grave if he could see how these pompous phonies are misusing his good name in such a disgraceful manner. If these very same phonies were alive when William Penn was alive, you can bet that they would all be railing against the building of log cabins too.

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