An environmental attorney pointed to several irregularities associated with the proposed 108-mile PennEast pipeline Wednesday that question whether the natural gas it’s would transport would be used in the U.S. and highlighted a peculiar arrangement in the review process of opposition comments.
Easton attorney Charles Elliott, who was hired by Lower Saucon Township officials to file a document outlining why the township opposes the pipeline, made a presentation before township council that summarizing summarized his more than 70-page report that included the irregularities.
Thank you, Mr. Elliot, and thank you to Lower Saucon Township for taking the lead while other townships like Bethlehem Twp., Lower Nazareth, and Upper Township take half measures while landowners in their community face eminent domain.
Among those was a statement by PennEast representatives that the pipeline would provide enough natural gas for the 4.8 million homes in New Jersey.
Elliott said that considering there are about 3.1 million homes in the state, there would be a significant excess of gas and the question of where it would go.
“It seems dubious,” he said.
If the extra gas ends up being exported, he said, that would mean PennEastcould not use eminent domain as a means of acquiring property for the pipeline.
He said based on constitutional law, eminent domain could only be used for domestic purposes.
Another issue Elliott raised was the contractor selected by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for reviewing opposition comment reports such as the one Elliott will file by a Feb. 27 deadline.
He said the PennEast Pipeline Co. gave FERC three consultants to chose from.
FERC chose California-based Tetra Tech, which Elliott said will be paid by PennEast.
In addition to reviewing, Elliott said Tetra Tech has a subsidiary company involved with the construction, design and engineering of natural gas pipelines that is a member of a natural gas lobbying group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
Besides presenting facts on the environmental impact the pipeline would have on the township’s forests, wetlands, soils and wildlife, Elliott said the report asks why a new swath of land has to be used for the pipeline when it appears it could be installed on land already be used by other pipeline companies.
“There are about 12 pipelines that bisect the Delaware River Watershed. The question is why is it necessary. Isn’t there any coordination with these other pipelines?” he said.
Elliott said given the number of existing and new lines being proposed across the state, “an interrelationship [of the pipeline companies] needs to be investigated. There is a redundancy in these proposals.”
In an overall view, he added, “We need to look at the actual need for this project … and whether this is just a short-term decision.
The proposed pipeline would start in Luzerne County, making its way south through Northampton and a portion of Bucks counties, where it would cross the Delaware River into Hunterdon County, N.J., and end in Mercer County. Moore and Lower Saucon townships as well as all the Hunterdon County communities along the river have adopted resolutions opposing the pipeline.