Delaware RiverKeeper Challenges DEP’s PennEast Pipeline Certification In Federal Court

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network Tuesday filed a challenge in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to DEP’s Section 401 Water Quality Certification of the PennEast Pipeline Project.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network petition for review says Pennsylvania failed to apply appropriate state standards for determining whether a 401 Water Quality Certification was proper and instead issued the certification contingent upon future review and state permitting of the project.

This legal challenge is similar to challenges the organization filed against the Leidy Southeast Pipeline on May 5, 2015 and against the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project filed on May 4, 2016.  Both cases are proceeding through the court process.

“The issuance of this approval to PennEast is a betrayal by the Wolf Administration of the highest order.  Gov. Wolf and DEP are more concerned with serving the profit goals of the pipeline companies than they are with protecting Pennsylvania’s environment and communities,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper. “Gov. Wolf’s administration continues to issue unsupported and premature approvals to projects like the PennEast pipeline.  DEP, with the full knowledge and support of the Wolf administration, is failing to fulfill its obligations to determine whether pipelines like the PennEast pipeline will harm our communities and environment prior to deciding whether to give them state approval – this is an obvious violation of the state’s obligation to protect our environment and communities.”

The PennEast pipeline, if built, would carry fossil fuels through environmentally sensitive areas and public lands. Concerned residents and environmental groups have voiced concerns about the devastating and irreversible impacts should construction continue.

The 401 Certification was issued on February 7, 2017 and was noticed in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on February 25, 2017.  

The route of the PennEast pipeline goes through communities in Dallas, Kingston, Jenkins, Plains and Bear Creek Townships, West Wyoming, Wyoming  and Laflin Boroughs, Luzerne County; Kidder, Penn Forest, Towamensing  and Lower Towamensing Townships, Carbon County; Lehigh, Moore, East Allen, Upper Nazareth, Lower Nazareth, Bethlehem, Lower Saucon,  and Williams Townships, and Easton City, Northampton County; and Durham and Rieglesville Townships, Bucks County. 

In addition the pipeline would cut through communities in Mercer and Hunterdon Counties, New Jersey. 

New Jersey has not taken steps to issue its approval for the project.  Approvals are also required from the Delaware River Basin Commission and the US Army Corps of Engineers. 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would also have to approve the project, “but that agency is so biased we all know their approval is a foregone conclusion,” says van Rossum.  “It is just a matter of when they will issue their approval, not if they will issue it.”

A copy of the petition for review is available online.


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Related Story:

PennEast Pipeline Receives DEP Water Quality Certification

[Posted: Feb. 28, 2017]


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