Thursday, January 17, 2013

Countdown to the Prevention of a Pipeline

A week of legal action – but also another week of reprieve.

Let’s start with the good news.

The week began with a third group of citizens joining together to learn about how they can effectively exercise their first amendment rights against this project.  The energy and commitment of the group were inspiring.

January 17, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company filed its weekly report in which they said:

        No construction is planned for the coming week.

       Tennessee has scheduled a pre-construction meeting for January 18, 2013 to 
       discuss upcoming activities in Pennsylvania.  The Pennsylvania Department of 
       Environmental Protection, and the Bradford, Wayne, Susquehanna, and Pike County 
      Conservation Districts have been invited to this meeting.

So another week’s reprieve for the community, creeks and trees.

 This week  my attorneys, scientists, and I spent the better part of the week in Harrisburg, arguing our challenge to the Pennsylvania permits issued for the project as part of making our request for a Supersedeas (a set aside of the permits) for the project.  The Delaware Riverkeeper Network attorneys and experts did a great job presenting our case.  Half way through the three day hearing the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company asked the Environmental Hearing Board judge to dismiss our Supersedeas request – the judge denied them and the hearing continued to completion with testimony going into the evening hours on all three days.

And Wednesday, the 16th, I was asked to come down and testify before the Delaware State Senate in support of a bill that would require any deals cut for the transfer, lease or other hand over of the port to a private entity would have to come before the State General Assembly before it could go through.  This is important because Kinder Morgan – owner of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company as well as owner of other pipeline operations and LNG facilities – currently has a deal in the works.  A vote was called before I, the only supporting witness asked to come down to speak, was asked to testify.  But that’s okay because the vote was a success – 11 to 9 in favor. 

Now the kind of bad news.

The filing of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network joined by the NJ Highlands Coalition, for a stay of the FERC decision to allow the NEUP project to move forward  has been dismissed by the DC Circuit Court.  But don’t fret, that filing went in before FERC filed their denial of our rehearing request – that means the door is open to try again as now we have the FERC response and so more foundation for our challenge.  And we will be refiling. 

Friday the 18th I will be joining my attorneys in Scranton in order to defend the request for an injunction that the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company has filed in federal district court against usas well as against the Environmental Hearing Board judges, in order to stop our challenge against the Pennsylvania permits from moving forward. Stay tuned for that one – whichever way the decision goes the case will be setting important precedent for all pipeline projects and whether or not the States are deemed to have permitting authority over them.

So the countdown to our success continues and the trees still stand. 

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