Comment on the DEIS
On July 22nd, 2016 FERC issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for PennEast.
We have until September 12th to comment. This page will tell you how to comment, offer some hot topics to consider to communicate to FERC, and provide resources to help you find the right information.
This is your time to make your voice heard. If you miss the cutoff date, your comment will be ignored by FERC and not count.
If you have any questions or concerns please email firstname.lastname@example.org
WHY THIS MATTERS
PennEast has reached a critical juncture in their permitting process with the federal government. A document has been issued called the "Draft Environmental Impact Statement". The general public has until September 5, 2016 to comment (*). This is a prime opportunity to tell the federal government and FERC that the DEIS is incomplete, has hundreds of factual issues, and does not accurately represent the impact PennEast will have on the region and our lives.
We need to get THOUSANDS of comments against the DEIS so that it is clear how wide spread the opposition to this project is. We need YOUR HELP to get there.
This page will tell you how you can help. It costs nothing, only takes a few minutes, and you can help us have an impact.
GOALS AND TOPICS
The following presentation gives in-depth information on what we're trying to achieve, comment topics, and and tips and tricks. Some of the main points are:
Demand a significant extension of the comment period
Show that the DEIS is incomplete and should be withdrawn
Show that the DEIS is inaccurate
Show that FERC is violating its own procedures and rules and best practices within the DEIS
Show where the DEIS is cut and paste boilerplate with no true analysis
Point out where the DEIS makes assertions without facts, citations, or references to back it up!
QUICK TIP: Search for your town or local features in the DEIS. You might rapidly find a host of issues that way!
INSTRUCTIONS: HOW TO COMMENT ELECTRONICALLY
Below is detailed instructions on how to comment electronically on the DEIS.
THE DEIS FILES
Below are the files that make up the entire PennEast DEIS as issued by FERC. Note that the DEIS is authored by a contractor named Tetra Tech under the supervision of FERC staff. PennEast did not prepare this, but it is based upon PennEast's supplied information in the application and other requests for information from FERC.
3rd PARTY FILES
These are files that have been filed against PennEast by third parties that may be useful for DEIS commenting, including the Skipping Stone Study on purpose and need, Delaware Riverkeeper suit, NJCF and EELC et al's intervenor comments, etc.
Here are some samples of issues with the DEIS. Please feel free to use these as a template for your own comments.
Remember to always prefix your comments with the following!
"My name is [NAME] and I am from [CITY, STATE]. I am an [Intervenor on CP15-558][Impacted Landowner][Concerned Resident] and I am commenting on the PennEast Draft EIS".
Drinking Water Wells
"The DEIS states on page ES-5:
"There are no public and/or private water supply wells or springs that would be located within 150 feet of the pipeline construction workspace in Pennsylvania. Two public supply wells were identified within 150 feet of the pipeline construction workspace in Hunterdon County, New Jersey".
This assertion by the DEIS is completely false. There are hundreds of wells on impacted properties, and it is plain that many of them are within 150' of PennEast constructxion. The complete lack of knowledge of this by PennEast, Tetra Tech, and FERC is indicative of the depth of issues this DEIS contains.
Such a basic and fundamental lack of awareness shows that this DEIS is inadequate, incomplete, and should be withdrawn until such time that it has sufficient information to make an informed decision as per NEPA regulations.
"The DEIS blatantly ignores Professor TC Onstott's Arsenic issues and incorrectly characterizes them as a construction-only activity. The issues identified by Dr. Onstott are on-going arsenic mobilization from the continuing operation of the pipeline. The DEIS fails to recognize this and so is missing a vital impact to the community and region in regards to the safety of our drinking water".
No Action Alternative
"Under NEPA, a DEIS is required to seriously consider the "No Action Alternative". The No Action Alternative considers the baseline state of what would happen if the project were not constructed. This alternative is supposed to be considered seriously and comprehensively.
However, in the PennEast DEIS issued by FERC, the No Action Alternative is a bare four paragraphs in length. Within those four paragraphs, there is only a single citation made. That citation is to a list of shippers on the project. There is no mention that the majority of shippers are affiliates of the owners, and that FERC has ruled in past proceedings that affiliate shippers carry less weight than contracts with unrelated entities that serve as arms-length transactions. There is no mention that they are lacking survey permission in over 70% of the route within NJ, and that there are strong indications that a certificate would in fact require eminent domain condemnation proceedings to be brought against 70% of the landowners in NJ or more. And that extensive use of eminent domain is yet another factor in the NEPA weighing that FERC performs, and should have heavy weight in considering a No Action Alternative.
There are numerous assertions throughout the No Action Alternative that are backed up with no data or citations. The sections on regional pricing impacts, reliability, and renewables are all based on assertions with no actual citations made at all."
"The DEIS has a number of serious issues and deficiencies which means it does not accurately portray impacts to historical areasand i a wholly inadequate replacement for a proper Section 106 process under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). These include but are not limited to:
Failure to acknowledge representatives of local governments as consulting parties as required under 36 C.F.R. § 800.2;
Failure to provide representatives of local governments with the information necessary to participate as consulting parties;
Failure to conduct field surveys for historic and cultural resources for 68% of the area of potential effects in New Jersey;
Failure to identify a significant number of impacted historical and cultural sites;
Use of flawed archaeological survey methods for surveying sites;
Improper analysis of the adverse effects on identified historic properties;
Insufficient development of mitigation measures for identified adverse effects.
Based on these deficiencies and issues it is impossible for the public to accurately gauge the impact PennEast will have on historic properties and areas."
Lambertville Water Supply/Suez Water
A major issue with the PennEast route is its potential impacts to the City of Lambertville's drinking water supplies. Since the route change in January 2015, numerous people have stated on both the pre-filing and application dockets that the route was a serious danger to the Swan Creek Reservoir and the drinking water system run by the Suez corporation (formerly United Water). The route cuts between the main reservoir and dam and the treatment system down stream to the west, is proposed to be constructed on steep slopes that will cause serious run-off issues into Lambertville, and was perilously close to the dam.
None of these complaints were ever acknowledged during pre-filing process, or the creation of the Draft EIS.
It has now come to light that PennEast has been deceiving FERC, and been untruthful to Suez, about the reservoir, the overall Suez site, and the proposed PennEast plans. The Lambertville Pipeline Committee, who reports to the official City of Lambertville City Council, recently met with Suez to find out what they knew about the project, and what the potential impacts could be.
Suez representatives were shocked to find their information was outdated, inaccurate, and incomplete. But the fault does not lay with Suez. The fault lays entirely with PennEast, FERC, and Tetra Tech.
Worse than this, Suez indicated that PennEast told them a very different story from what is contained in the DEIS and the PennEast application.
PennEast told Suez that they would drill "20 feet or more" below the facilities at the Suez site, and hence there would be no impact to them. Yet PennEast's construction plans show an open-trench being dug on site.
PennEast told Suez there'd be no blasting in the vicinity of the dam. Yet a supplemental response from PennEast shows bedrock at or near the surface on the site, and indicates that they will in fact almost certainly be blasting there.
PennEast told FERC that the Suez reservoir was a source of water for hydrostatic testing, and they had already contacted the company about the matter. Suez vigorously denied any such contact ever occurred and was wholly in the dark as to hydrostatic testing water sources (or any other water source for PennEast).
In reality, the DEIS and PennEast application, when laid over the actual facilities at the Suez site, show PennEast severing the main water supply pipeline that takes water from the reservoir over to the water treatment plant. That's right - PennEast, in its incompetence and total ignorance of the area, is inadvertently planning to cut off Lambertville from its primary drinking water source.
On top of all of this, PennEast only met with Suez once in early 2015, and hasn't talked to them since. This despite re-routes in the area, and the fact that the Suez reservoir at Swan Creek is in fact the primary drinking water supply for the City of Lambertville. This is a critical regional infrastructure that could be impacted.
PennEast cannot even claim ignorance of Suez and the reservoir, since Suez has talked to them on on the single occasion and described their facilities to them. This is sheer incompetence and negligence on the part of PennEast, and equal shares of negligence on the parts of FERC and Tetra Tech for not following up on the pre-filing and application comments about Swan Creek, the reservoir, and Lambertville's drinking water supply.
This DEIS process should be suspended. The DEIS should be recognized as not being just "woefully" incomplete, but dangerously so - this monumental oversight demonstrates just how dangerous looking-the-other-way and ignoring details can be. PennEast cannot be allowed to move forward with this level of lack of knowledge two years into the process
Improper Notice Periods on Agrigultural Lands
On page D-2, "Agricultural Impact Minimization Plan", Section 1.3 on Communication states:
"Prior to construction, PennEast will provide landowners and tenant farmers of active agricultural lands with as much advance notice as possible, but not less than 24 hours prior to entry".
A 24 hour minimum notice period for construction is completely and totally unacceptable for personal and commercial agricultural lands. Planned routine construction activities should have no less than 90 days prior notice for agricultural areas to allow farmers to plan their crops and land use appropriately , and a minimum of 10 days notice for unforeseen occurrences.
This completely unacceptable notice period demonstrates that this DEIS is severely underestimating impacts of this proposed project to the region and is not a realistic estimate in any way, shape, or form. This DEIS should be withdrawn until such time as it is reasonably complete, accurate, and realistic.
DEIS is Incomplete
•The DEIS is incomplete and mentions 79 instances where there is missing or unavailable information. Also, 70% of homeowners along the route have denied PennEast survey access. This means FERC does not posses enough data to do a thorough review. According to NEPA FERC is required to take a "hard look" at environmental impacts, and is required to wait for data if it is reasonably believed to be available before issuing a DEIS. In the case of PennEast, FERC issued the DEIS when large amounts of surveys had yet to be completed, or in some cases even started. In many of these cases the issue is not even that PennEast has been denied access - in those cases PennEast simply has not done them yet.
FERC needs to adhere to NEPA, and not slavishly follow deadlines for PennEast's convenience. The DEIS process should be halted, and a new DEIS issued once all possibly available data has been captured and analyzed.