CUMULATIVE IMPACTS

 Deficiencies in the DEIS:


NEPA requires “agencies to consider the cumulative impacts of proposed actions.” NRDC v. Hodel, 865 F.2d 288, 297 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (“Hodel”); see also TOMAC v.Norton, 433 F.3d 852, 864 (D.C. Cir. 2006).

NEPA requires federal agencies to take environmental considerations into account “to the fullest extent possible.” 42 U.S.C. §4332; 40 C.F.R. § 1500.2; Bentsen, 94 F.3d at 684.

The cumulative impacts of GHGs must be evaluated. August 1st, 2016  CEQ memorandum: Final Consideration for Federal Departments and Agencies on consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and effects of Climate Change in National Environmental Policy Act Reviews.  

The DEIS concludes that there is ‘no significant cumulative impacts’ while missing much of the data necessary to reach an accurate finding. This is a blatant violation of NEPA and CEQ regulation mandating that agencies ensure "environmental information is available to public officials and citizens before decisions are made and before actions are taken." 40 C.F.R. § 1500.l(b) (emphasis added).​

All are segments of one dependent pipeline system; each segment is interdependent upon the others, there are contracts and capacity for exactly the same daily capacity of 180,000 dekatherms in firm supply from PennEast as there is for SRL, and PennEast is dependent upon the GSE compressor expansion. The DEIS states that alternatives cannot be considered because of the PennEast must connect at the top of the Garden State Expansion project - Transco Compressor #205.  Therefore, PennEast itself acknowledges that these projects are connected and indepth cumulative analysis needs to be provided. The proposed connected Williams also need to be evaluated for cumulative impacts. Actions are considered “connected” where they are “closely related” and, (i) automatically trigger other actions which may require environmental impact statements, (ii) cannot or will not proceed unless other actions are taken previously or simultaneously, (iii) are interdependent parts of a larger action and depend on the larger action for their justification. Id. at § 1508.25(a)(1).

Missing and Faulty Analysis
It categorizes and minimizes  impacts labeling them as “localized”, “mitigatable” or “short term”. It is a one-sided representation of material that was submitted to the docket or altogether ignores data that was submitted that refutes many of the findings:

  • Gives NO specifics or accurate data on water body impacts: “some long-term cumulative impacts would occur on wetland and forested vegetation and associated wildlife habitats.” Much of the data on wetlands is missing, and reaching a conclusion before reviewing the necessary information is a violation of NEPA.

  • It calls impacts to residential development plan impacts and transportation impacts :”temporary and relatively minor overall.” ES-14   This overlooks the permanent impacts (that are still being requested from FERC) such as the Hopewell Township Emergency Services plan.

  • IT sights the “implementation of specialized construction techniques” as being a factor in preventing cumulative impacts.  However, FERC has requested these techniques and that material is still missing!

  • It does not count as valid the indirect impacts of increased natural gas drilling that would be a consequence of PennEast. Their erroneous justification is that it is not “reasonable foreseeable” as defined by the CEQ regulations.

  • Species cumulative impacts is incomplete. “Because some species surveys are still pending or are only partially complete due to lack of access to certain areas where the land-owner/manager has not granted PennEast access, our final effects determination of species cannot be made at this time.”

  • There will be lasting water flow, soil, species, and fragmentation impacts from cutting trees. But the report states “…the temporary right-of-way would revert back to pre-existing conditions.”  That is utter nonsense. Invasive species will replace the original forest.

  • Noise cumulative impacts are only measured for HDD but no measurements are given for increased construction noise.  

  • It gives a rosy picture of positive job impacts without mentioning the Goodman Report study that has debunked PennEast’s claims and any negative impacts reported by multiple businesses in impacted communities.

  • It inaccurately downplays any negative impacts in emissions: “Emissions associated with the Project would contribute to cumulative air quality impacts.”  Then it goes on to erroneiously state that “There is also the potential, however, that the Project would contribute to a cumulative improvement in regional air quality if a portion of the natural gas associated with the Project displaces the use of other more polluting fossil fuels.” ES-14  EPA data from 2014 shows that New Jersey CO2 emissions are going up, not down, due to natural gas fired electrical emissions. We transitioned from coal years ago and there are no other “more polluting ”fossil fuels that are being replaced by PennEast.

  • It categorizes and minimizes  impacts labeling them as “localized”, “mitigatable” or “short term”. It is a one-sided representation of material that was submitted to the docket or altogether ignores data that was submitted that refutes many of the findings:

  • Gives NO specifics or accurate data on water body impacts: “some long-term cumulative impacts would occur on wetland and forested vegetation and associated wildlife habitats.” Much of the data on wetlands is missing, and reaching a conclusion before reviewing the necessary information is a violation of NEPA.

  • It calls impacts to residential development plan impacts and transportation impacts :”temporary and relatively minor overall.” ES-14   This overlooks the permanent impacts (that are still being requested from FERC) such as the Hopewell Township Emergency Services plan.

  • It sights the “implementation of specialized construction techniques” as being a factor in preventing cumulative impacts.  However, FERC has requested these techniques and that material is still missing!

  • It does not count as valid the indirect impacts of increased natural gas drilling that would be a consequence of PennEast. Their erroneous justification is that it is not “reasonable foreseeable” as defined by the CEQ regulations.

  • Species cumulative impacts is incomplete. “Because some species surveys are still pending or are only partially complete due to lack of access to certain areas where the land-owner/manager has not granted PennEast access, our final effects determination of species cannot be made at this time.”

  • There will be lasting water flow, soil, species, and fragmentation impacts from cutting trees. But the report states “…the temporary right-of-way would revert back to pre-existing conditions.”  That is utter nonsense. Invasive species will replace the original forest.

  • Noise cumulative impacts are only measured for HDD but no measurements are given for increased construction noise.  

  • It gives a rosy picture of positive job impacts without mentioning the Goodman Report study that has debunked PennEast’s claims and any negative impacts reported by multiple businesses in impacted communities.

  • It inaccurately downplays any negative impacts in emissions: “Emissions associated with the Project would contribute to cumulative air quality impacts.”  Then it goes on to erroneiously state that “There is also the potential, however, that the Project would contribute to a cumulative improvement in regional air quality if a portion of the natural gas associated with the Project displaces the use of other more polluting fossil fuels.” ES-14  EPA data from 2014 shows that New Jersey CO2 emissions are going up, not down, due to natural gas fired electrical emissions. We transitioned from coal years ago and there are no other “more polluting ”fossil fuels that are being replaced by PennEast.

Key Writing Points For Comments


In your comments to FERC, it is important to raise as many different points through multiple letters. You should include detailed notes, specific data and unique stories about how you, your family, your property or business and your community would be impacted by PennEast. 
Following are key facts and figures for your use in your comments, to support your issues and concerns about PennEast. We encourage you to share this information with your friends, family and colleagues, as well.

Cumulative Impacts

  • Six (6) new pipelines: PennEast, Crestwood Marc II, Garden State Expansion Project (GSE), Southern Reliability Link (SRL), William’s Atlantic Sunrise and Northeast Supply Enhancement Project are all segments of an interconnected pipeline system; each segment is dependent upon the others. FERC has not examined the cumulative impacts of these connected actions. Examples:

  • There are contracts and capacity for exactly the same daily capacity of 180,000 dekatherms in firm supply from PennEast as there is for SRL.

  • NJR is an owner of PennEast and has a contract for 180,000 dekatherms of firm supply in PennEast. It is also the owner of the proposed SRL.


The DEIS states that alternatives cannot be considered because PennEast must connect at the top of the Garden State Expansion project - Transco Compressor #205.  Therefore, PennEast itself acknowledges that these projects are connected.  Therefore in-depth cumulative impacts analysis needs to be provided and the DEIS does not accomplish this.

Infrastructure projects are considered “connected” where they are “closely related” and:
  • Automatically trigger other actions which may require environmental impact statements, 

  • Cannot or will not proceed unless other actions are taken previously or simultaneously, and are interdependent parts of a larger action and depend on the larger action for their justification. Id. at § 1508.25(a)(1).

The cumulative impacts of PennEast on greenhouse gases should be evaluated.

  • The DEIS concludes that there are ‘no significant cumulative impacts’ but it omits much of the data necessary to reach an accurate finding. This is a violation of NEPA and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulation mandating that agencies ensure "environmental information is available to public officials and citizens before decisions are made and before actions are taken.” 40 C.F.R. § 1500.l(b) (emphasis added)

  • The DEIS cites the “implementation of specialized construction techniques” as a way to prevent cumulative impacts. However, FERC has requested details about these techniques but PennEast has still not provided it.

  • Species cumulative impacts are incomplete. This shows that the DEIS is not ready to be released and no conclusions should be made.

Noise cumulative impacts are only measured for HDD but no measurements are given for increased construction noise or increased noise from the additional operation of the GSE compressor station #205 that PennEast’s gas will require.

The DEIS inaccurately downplays any negative impacts in emissions: “Emissions associated with the Project would contribute to cumulative air quality impacts.”  The DEIS goes on to state that “There is also the potential, however, that the Project would contribute to a cumulative improvement in regional air quality if a portion of the natural gas associated with the Project displaces the use of other more polluting fossil fuels.” (ES-14). It then points to no data to support this supposed benefit.  EPA data (2014) shows that New Jersey CO2 emissions are going up, not down, due to natural gas fired electrical emissions. NJ transitioned from coal years ago and there are no other “more polluting” fossil fuels that PennEast is replacing.
 

Sample Letter  


Ms. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary 

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, NE
Washington, D.C. 20426
Dear Secretary Bose,

Re:  Docket CP15-558-000 – Proposed PennEast Pipeline Project

Dear Secretary Bose and Members of FERC:

I am (enter your name and state how you are affected - directly impacted landowner?  Intervener?  Business  Owner?) in this proceeding who lives in (enter your address or Twsp).

Section 3.2.1.1 of the Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) for the PennEast project states that PennEast would tie into Spectra Energy’s Algonquin-Incremental-Market (“AIM”) project via an interconnection.  Spectra Energy is also a partner in this proposed PennEast project.  The almost illegible maps talk about the Gilbert interconnect. 

The Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) for this PennEast project, as presented, fails to examine the environmental impacts along the entire route when PennEast interconnects with the Gilbert I upgrade and the AIM project.  The segmentation of these projects is wrong, as FERC already knows this entire line would be one and would share common owners. 

By reviewing PennEast as a separate project from the AIM pipeline and failing to include impacts from the Gilbert I upgrade, FERC is knowingly permitting segmentation of the projects.  This is in direct contradiction to the NEPA requirements. 

Therefore, I call upon FERC to withdraw the DEIS for the proposed PennEast project until such time as the environmental impacts along the entire PennEast/Gilbert I/AIM pipeline are reviewed in light of the interconnections that would make them one system.  To fail to do so is to fail to comply with NEPA standards.

I ask FERC to respond directly to me regarding this comment.

Sincerely,

 
You will have a FERC ID, if
you filed as an intervener or have filed previously.

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You will need to know the Docket # CP15-558 when you file.

Comments to FERC on the Docket

Below are some of the teriffic comments from citizens they have already filed on the docket.

You can use these as a tool to help you build your comments. Some of these comments are from specialist in their field so your comment does not have to be as detailed. You can write about your concerns about cumulative impacts