Sunday, January 27, 2013
New Legal Battle Launched -- Countdown to Win #7
Many in the community were concerned that when the State Environmental Hearing Board denied the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Responsible Drilling Alliance our requested stay on the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s (TGP) NorthEast Upgrade Project (NEUP) that all was lost and the project a foregone conclusion. But nothing could be further from the truth.
While we may not have gotten the stay out of the EHB we were fighting for, our legal challenge against the state permits is still very much alive and we are making preparations to pursue that challenge. We are right on the law and the facts and we intend to prove it.
Part of our challenge to the PA state permits included arguing before a federal judge that TGP is not entitled to an injunction preventing us from pursuing that case. In an effort to intimidate, TGP filed for an injunction against us and our legal challenge – but in court it was clear to all that we were on the higher legal and moral ground and I have to trust the judge will see that too.
The federal judge who asked for oral argument on TGP’s request for injunction was clearly well informed and seems up to the challenge of issuing a ruling that will create good new law for all pipeline projects. Now that we have submitted our briefs and had oral arguments before the judge we must wait for his decision.
But that does not mean we are doing nothing at the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. In addition to preparing for our legal challenge to the PA permits, this week the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, along with our colleagues at the NJ Highlands Coalition and NJ Sierra Club, filed a petition for an Emergency Stay to halt the TGP NEUP out of another federal court. Our Petition filed on Thursday January 24 asks the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a stay of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order and Certification as well as its Notice to Proceed with Construction issued for the TGP NEUP. The outcome of our legal challenge to the FERC decisions for the project will also be setting important precedent and law that affects all pipelines.
These legal challenges are vital opportunities for protecting our communities from the damage that pipelines bring, as well as the devastation brought by the drilling and fracking these pipeliens induce and support. There are not many organizations with the resolve or the resources to pursue legal claims on behalf of the River and our communities the way the Delaware Riverkeeper Network does.
But, in order to bring these legal challenges, we need to prove we have members that will be affected by the project – their quality of life, their enjoyment of nature, their economic interests, their recreational joy are among the impacts we need to show. If you are not yet a member but care about the use of litigation to protect the River from pipelines, drilling, fracking and other harms please take a moment and join now at www.delawareriverkeeper.org.
Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company has gotten permission to begin elements of the NEUP and they indicated at the end of last week they were going to begin to proceed. Specifically FERC said:
I grant your December 13, 2012 and January 16, 2013 requests, as supplemented, for Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C. (TGP) to commence construction of that portion of the Northeast Upgrade Project identified as Loop 325 from milepost 1.0 to the terminus at approximate milepost 7.6 in Bergen and Passaic County, New Jersey. This authorization also approves the use of the Loop 325 associated access roads.
This approval does not grant TGP the authority to commence construction of the Northeast Upgrade Project Loops in Pennsylvania, or Loop 323 and the Mahwah Meter Station in New Jersey.
Please know, that just because in this moment they are starting aspects of the project – it does not mean this project is a done deal – we are in court fighting hard. And there may soon be a call for legal public protest to emphasize our point and to call for ensuring the time and space we need to pursue our legal options.