Sign On: Petition DRBC on PennEast Pipeline— Regulate Entire Project & Prohibit Tree Clearing!
Now that PennEast has secured FERC approval and is advancing at least 179 cases of eminent domain (at least 50 in PA and 129 in NJ) we are anticipating a request to FERC for approval of tree felling. It is critical that the states and DRBC prevent this activity.
Allowing tree cutting for a pipeline that is not fully approved and may never happen would be a travesty, as it would allow devastating and irreparable harm and should be prevented. DRBC has the authority and obligation to say ‘no’ if there is no docket—yet the agency continues to evade any confirmation that it will exercise its full authority along the entire length of the pipeline.
On February 16, the Delaware Rivekerkeeper Network delivered a petition to the Commission that makes the case for why the DRBC is obligated to take that step and urges the DRBC to confirm for all of us that it will.
The petition urges the DRBC to implement full authority on the project, including enforcement against tree clearing without a DRBC docket. Tree felling/clearing is a first construction step that many along the pipeline route are anticipating now that the company has the power of eminent domain and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval.
We need to keep on the pressure to ensure that DRBC gets this message loud and clear. Please sign your organization on to the petition today so that we can show DRBC that this message is not just from DRN, but from the entire community.
The petition the urges DRBC to:
⇒ Secure basinwide and complete exercise of DRBC authority with regards to the PennEast pipeline,
⇒ Ensure nonpoint source pollution control plan pursuant to special protection waters program is secured, reviewed and approved for PennEast prior to approval of a DRBC docket, and
⇒ Ensure enforcement against any form of construction of the PennEast pipeline without commissioner approval of a DRBC docket, including tree felling or clearing.
Construction of the PennEast Pipeline project will involve significant disturbance of ground cover – the project will impact 1,613.5 acres of land and will cut through 255 waterbodies, the vast majority of which lie within the boundaries of the Delaware River basin. The petition refers to a 2013 letter the DRBC sent to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network which the organization says confirms the DRBC’s obligation to do basin-wide review of a pipeline like PennEast.
The petition also refers to a November 14, 2014 DRBC letter sent to the PennEast Pipeline Company which stated, “DRBC review and approval are required prior to the commencement of any water withdrawal, discharge, or earth disturbance activities.” According to the petition, tree felling should be among the prohibited activities.
DRBC Comprehensive Plan areas crossed by PennEast include: Beltzville State Park, Beltzville Reservoir, Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, Delaware Canal Trail, F.E. Walter Reservoir, Hickory Run State Park, Lower Delaware River National Wild & Scenic River, Washington Crossing State Park, and Weiser State Forest.
We know the pipeline company playbook: first they get FERC approval, then they get eminent domain, then they cut the trees, and then they tell the other agencies and the judge that the project is too far along to stop or say no to and urge the granting of all permits and denial of all legal challenges.