June 2020 Report To Stakeholders



PennEast/UGI Pipeline Project- Prepared 7/1/2020

The Supreme Court has finally taken action on the PennEast appeal of the State of New Jersey case. The Court has asked the Solicitor General to submit a brief. Unfortunately, from our viewpoint, this action indicates that the Court is interested in the case, perhaps enough to hear the appeal. If the Court decides to take the appeal, that decision would not come until Fall and the hearing itself would not take place until next year because the Court has a large backlog of cases due to Covid 19. In the meantime, the newly devised “Phase I” pipeline
continues the process to build the Pennsylvania section of the PennEast Pipeline.

In a big “win” for pipeline opponents, The Court of Appeals for the D.C. District has stuck down the use of tolling orders by FERC. FERC has used “tolling orders” to forestall court action by homeowners and other opponents of pipelines. While the tolling order is in effect, plaintiffs are denied their day in court but the pipeline can continue to be built. The case before the Court concerned the Transco Pipeline which begins in Luzerne County and ends in New Jersey. A homeowner asked for a rehearing which is required prior to filing for judicial
review. The FERC issued a tolling order saying that the Commission needed more time. In fact, they needed so much time that the pipeline was constructed before the plaintiffs could proceed to court. The Court of Appeals ruled that this practice denies due process to appellants.

Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) is often touted as a cure-all for pipeline problems but as demonstrated by the many tainted drinking wells caused by the Mariner East II Pipeline, this is not true. HDD means that, using special equipment that drills a horizontal pipeline route, digging trenches is not necessary. The process uses an inert clay called “drilling mud” to help with the progress of the drilling. Problems occur when a so-called “inadvertent return” occurs and drilling mud is expelled under great pressure through natural cracks or fissures to areas adjacent to the pipeline route. This can mean that nearby wells are contaminated, which happened with dozens of wells near the Mariner East II pipeline in Delaware Co. And it can cause the foundations of nearby buildings to collapse, which happened earlier this month (6/19) to a Freehold, New Jersey homeowner. She was given two minutes to grab her most important worldly possessions and vacate her home of 32 years. Drillers for the Southern Reliability pipeline experienced an “inadvertent return” which forced drilling mud against her foundation. Ironically, she had opposed the pipeline for years and had pointed out the dangers of drilling so close to homes. PennEast has proposed HDD as a solution near homes and across creeks and wetlands in Carbon County. We are not reassured.

Save Carbon County is a member of a regional and two-state effort to stop the PennEast/UGI pipeline. Local information can be found on FaceBook at “Stop the Fracking Pipeline.” Regional Information can be found on FaceBook at “Stop PennEast Pipeline.”

Supreme Court Update, NJCF Statement, and Tolling Orders Update— July 1st 2020


First, an update on the Supreme Court case is below. We have included information and a statement from Tom Gilbert with NJCF. Second, is an update regarding the tolling orders case. We have a big win to report! Details are below after the Supreme Court Update.

Supreme Court Update and NJCF statement – more delays

Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order seeking input from the U.S. Solicitor General on PennEast’s petition that the Court review the Third Circuit decision denying them the right to seize state lands.

This is one of the possibilities that had been anticipated. The Solicitor General will set the timeline for review, but it is anticipated that after hearing from the SG, the Supreme Court could decide whether or not to take the case this fall.

If the court does agree to hear the case, actual proceedings wouldn’t be until next term/year.

In practical terms – more delays….

“This action doesn’t change the fact that there is no reason under the law for the Supreme Court to review the Third Circuit’s unanimous decision,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director for NJ Conservation Foundation. “We continue to believe that decision will prevail in the end, and PennEast will be prohibited from seizing state-owned lands in order to construct its unneeded pipeline.”

Our fight continues at the Supreme Court The latest turn extends the process and the case. We are also examining other short term actions PennEast may try to do and will keep you informed. 

Tolling Orders Update – a big win!

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) issued a decision by the full court today stating that the Natural Gas Act (NGA) does not allow the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue tolling orders.

In practical terms :

FERC can no longer use tolling orders in pipeline projects going forward.

This applies to any future order. For example, if FERC makes a final decision about Phase II. FERC must respond to a request for rehearing within 30 days. If they do not, then we can file a petition for review in a circuit court of appeals.

We were advised that, Homeowners no longer have to wait for a final order from FERC to seek judicial relief. 

We hope your summer is going well. We look forward to seeing you in person as soon as we can. 

Thank you for all you do.