WCAS opposes PennEast Pipeline's route through Important Bird Areas

PennEast would create a 2.6 mile long “Baldpate Mohawk” up to 195′ deep into Baldpate Mountain Important Bird Area’s forest

OVERVIEW

The proposed 114-mile PennEast Pipeline would transport natural gas from west of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to Blackwell Rd. in Hopewell Township, New Jersey crossing seven Important Bird Areas in both states. PennEast would start at the exact same place and end less than six miles away from just completed Williams/Transco “Leidy Southeast” expansion. PennEast requires a “Certificate of Public Need and Necessity” from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to proceed with eminent domain condemnations and construction.

IMPACTS

Washington Crossing Audubon is particularly concerned about PennEast’s impacts to Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain in Hopewell Township. PennEast threatens over 4,300 acres of preserved lands, forests, farms, wetlands, and protected streams. PennEast would cross significant natural and historic resources in both PA and NJ including the Kittatinny Ridge Global IBA in Pennsylvania, the Appalachian Trail, as well as several NJ Natural Heritage Priority Sites. PennEast would cross the Susquehanna, Lehigh, and Delaware Rivers, “Exceptional Value” streams in Pennsylvania and thirty-two critical “Category One” (C1) streams in New Jersey.

40% of PennEast’s New Jersey route would cross five Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in New Jersey including seven miles through the Sourlands and Baldpate Mountain IBAs. PennEast would loop through five miles of famed Kittatinny Ridge Global IBA in Pennsylvania. In 2014 US Fish & Wildlife Service asked PennEast to Avoid permanent habitat alterations in areas where birds are highly concentrated. Examples of high concentration areas for birds are wetlands, State or Federal refuges, Audubon Important Bird Areas [IBAs]”—USFWS Adaptive Management Practices for Conserving Migratory Birds.

WHERE WE ARE NOW

Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) due: April 7, 2017
90-day Federal Authorization Deadline: July 6, 2017

On 1/23/17 FERC announced another delay “Due to additional environmental information filed by PennEast and certain state agencies since issuance of the November 8, 2016, Scheduling Notice, the Commission staff requires more time to analyze all the environmental data and prepare the final EIS.”  A prior 30 day comment period triggered by the 33 September route changes expired 12/8/16. Public can subscribe to FERC issuances and submittals via FERC’ eSubscription. Search the PennEast Docket # CP15-558 on FERC’s website. http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20161108-3025

WCAS STATEMENT ON PENNEAST DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT (DEIS) RELEASED JULY 22, 2016

“On July 22 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the PennEast pipeline, which stated that there are no significant environmental impacts from the proposed pipeline and that any impacts can be mitigated. The DEIS is based on incomplete data and glosses over the impact on multiple issues, including stream quality and wildlife. The bird data from the seven Important Bird Areas (IBAs) transversed by the proposed pipeline are especially sparse. The DEIS is now in the public comment period which ends September 12. It is vitally important that FERC hear as many objections to the DEIS as possible. Please consider commenting on the DEIS and asking FERC to withdraw this very flawed document…Letters submitted to the PennEast Docket (#CP15-558-000) should demand that FERC withdraw the DEIS, demand that FERC extend the public comment period until the missing data is incorporated into the DEIS, and point out specific problems in the DEIS, including missing or misleading information and issues that are either ignored or inadequately covered.”—Sharyn Magee, President, Washington Crossing Audubon Society.

PENNEAST HAS FAILED TO ESTABLISH TRUE PUBLIC NEED

“The PennEast pipeline alone would bring an additional one billion cubic feet per day of gas to Southeast Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and result in a 53% surplus beyond current demand in New Jersey, according to a study by the Labryinth Consulting Group. The Labryinth Study also concluded that “existing interstate pipelines supply all of New Jersey’s natural gas demands,” and that the true intent of the project is to deliver gas to other downstream markets.”—ReThink Energy NJ

NJ Rate Counsel on PennEast

In a rebuke to a proposed natural-gas pipeline, the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel argued that the applicant has failed to demonstrate the PennEast project is needed and fails to justify the profits that would be earned from it.”

Learn More

A CONCERNED COALITION

A statewide coalition of environmental groups, ‘citizens against the pipeline’ (CAP) groups and private property owners are all working to stop PennEast including, but not limited to, the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Sourlands Conservancy, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, ReThink Energy NJ, Sierra Club, Environment New Jersey, Clean Water Action NJ, Food & Water Watch, Hopewell Township Citizens Against the Pipeline, West Amwell Citizens Against the Pipeline, Delaware Township Citizens Against the Pipeline, etc. and HALTPennEast.

PennEast’s circa 114 mile route from Dallas just west of Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County, PA to Hopewell Township, NJ.

New Jersey can STOP PennEast by denying them a required 401 Water Quality Certificate, just as NY State denied Constitution Pipeline a WQ Cert. PennEast crosses over 30 of New Jersey’s finest “Category 1” protected “anti-degradation” streams including the Lockatong (below), Wickecheoke and Nishisackawick Creeks. NJDEP has the delegated federal authority to enforce the Clean Water Act in NJ, read more: princetonhydro_20150302-508330224899 

PennEast crosses 4,300 acres of preserved lands, forests, wetlands and farms including the Wickecheoke Valley in Rosemont Historic District (below) home to New Jersey’s only covered bridge and Pleasant Valley Historic District in Mercer County, home to Howell Living History Farm.

40% of PennEast’s NJ route crosses five NJ Important Bird Areas totaling est. 36 miles: Musconetcong Gorge, Everittstown Grasslands, Sourland Mountain Region, Baldpate Mountain, Pole Farm IBAs.

Friends of Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain organized a walk along the proposed PennEast Pipeline on April 20, 2016. Video details proposed devastation to this special place.