The Sierra Club has called on the Delaware River Basin Commission to have proper oversight and do a thorough review of the PennEast Pipeline project.
Currently the commission is proposing one meeting with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on the proposed pipeline route. The Sierra Club believes that one meeting is not adequate, and that having it with FERC undermines the commission’s review of the project. The commission controls the region within the river basin and manages water quality, withdrawals, droughts, floods, conservation and permitting for the river and its tributaries.
“The Delaware River Basin Commission needs to do an independent and thorough review of the PennEast Pipeline. They must allow for extensive public input and scrutiny as well as an honest and scientifically based environmental assessment of the impacts from this pipeline,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of New Jersey Sierra Club.
“The Delaware River Basin Commission must do its job and ensure an open public process. The only way they can do this is not to partner with FERC. FERC is a cheerleader for the industry they are supposed to regulate and will undermine the transparency and credibility of what the Delaware River Basin Commission will do. The only way we can have a real review is if the Delaware River Basin Commission will keep FERC out of the public meetings,” Tittel said.
He added that several hearings are needed in different parts of the basin so the public has the ability to give proper input and the commission can hear from all the various parts of the basin that are impacted by the pipeline project.
The Sierra Club says the Delaware River Basin Commission should look at not only where the pipeline should go, but if there should even be a pipeline and call on the federal government to require a full Environmental Impact Survey.
“We believe the DRBC must look at the project’s secondary and cumulative impacts, especially the impact to high quality waters,” Tittel said. “We are also concerned that pressure from all these pipelines will be used to end the moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River Basin.”
Three years ago the Delaware River Basin Commission put in a temporary moratorium to develop rules on regulating fracking within the Delaware River Basin. There was a proposal to lift the moratorium and adopt weak rules on fracking around two years ago. More than 800 people came out in opposition to the rules and the rule did not go forward. The moratorium is still in place.
“We would like to see the moratorium made permanent because the more we know about fracking the more dangerous it is. We cannot allow fracking to hold hostage the drinking water for 15 million people, or fragment through forests and impact the watersheds. Now the biggest threat is the pipelines going through this region, causing death of a thousand cuts,” Tittel said.
The PennEast pipeline will cut through 39 parks, 88 waterways, 44 wetlands, and 33 farms and other open space areas,” said Tittel.
The hearing is taking place today at the Washington Crossing Historic Park Visitor Center, 1112 River Road, in Washington Crossing, Pa.