A proposed natural gas pipeline through Pennsylvania and New Jersey
On July 22, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed 118-mile long PennEast pipeline.
The public comment period on the DEIS ended on September 12, 2016. AMC submitted substantial comments and requested the issuance of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.
AMC has submitted meaningful comments throughout the development of the DEIS, many of which have not been addressed by the DEIS or the applicant, creating concern that opportunities to avoid and minimize impacts to resources of interest to AMC are not being incorporated into the project.
AMC has focused its concerns in the following areas:
PennEast's proposed crossing of the Appalachian Trail will create an unnecessary new right-of-way across the Appalachian Trail, as well as creating significant impacts to hikers during construction.
The DEIS fails to consider a no impact alternative to the Appalachian Trail crossing and fails to meaningfully consider alternatives that would minimize the project's impacts to the Appalachian Trail such as by co-locating the project in or adjacent to an existing right-of-way.
The DEIS does not include an Appalachian Trail crossing plan that details construction dates, equipment and vehicle types, information about access roads, staging areas, and other important information that would correspond to impacts.
A detailed alternative analysis must be conducted for the Appalachian Trail crossing, and construction related plans must be developed and available for public comment before a DEIS is finalized.
PennEast is proposing to construct and operate a new 47,700 horsepower compressor station in the Pocono Mountains that would run off of natural gas, creating considerable air pollution and resulting in other impacts. The location of the proposed compressor station is close to recreation centers, contributing to the release of pollutants and emissions that can be unhealthy for outdoor enthusiasts.
AMC asserts that an electric powered compressor station would minimize impacts of the project by nearly eliminating localized air quality concerns and should be required.
PennEast has failed to acknowledge the range of dependent actions that are connected to the project, including natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale Region, the consumption of natural gas at the endpoint, and all related impacts on air pollution and contributions to climate change.
The pipeline, if built, is a trigger for both the extraction and consumption of natural gas. The applicant has claimed that there will be a cumulative benefit of job creation and energy price reductions, but has not acknowledged the cumulative impacts of the project on climate change and pollutants in general that can impact human health.
The White House Council on Environment Quality (CEQ) has issued new guidance requiring FERC and PennEast to evaluate the cumulative impacts of the project on climate change, yet the DEIS does not meet the CEQ guidelines. PennEast must be required to account for climate change contributions as an impact analyzed in the DEIS.
In the Mid-Atlantic Highlands, a pipeline proposal threatens the scenic, ecological and recreational values for which so many of us treasure the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The PennEast Pipeline, which is being proposed by a group of energy companies known collectively as PennEast, is a 36-inch pipeline that would transport natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania to Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. The pipeline would cross some of the Mid-Atlantic's most popular recreation destinations along the way, including Hickory Run State Park, Weiser State Forest, the Sourland Mountains, the Lehigh River (a state-designated water trail), the Lower Delaware Wild and Scenic River, and the iconic Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The current proposed route crosses the trail between Little Gap and Wind Gap, the section of the Appalachian Trail that is maintained by AMC's Delaware Valley trail volunteers. This project poses significant threats to outdoor recreation. Those include negative visual impacts to the Appalachian Trail viewshed both during and after construction, disruptive noise pollution during the construction period, and an increase in air pollution that both hurts hiker health and contributes to climate change. AMC is speaking up for outdoor recreation and our natural resources throughout the permitting process.
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