Philip D. MurphyGovernor of New Jersey and Chair of the DRBC CommissionOffice of GovernorPO Box 001Trenton, NJ 08625
Andrew M. CuomoGovernor of New York and Vice Chair of the DRBC CommissionNYS State Capitol BuildingAlbany, NY 12224
John CarneyGovernor of Delaware and DRBC CommissionerTatnall Building150 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd SouthDover, DE 19901
Tom WolfGovernor of Pennsylvania and DRBC CommissionerOffice of the Governor508 Main Capitol BuildingHarrisburg, PA 17120
Re: Stringent Review of PennEast Pipeline Project Pursuant to State Law & DRBC Authority
Dear Governor Murphy, Governor Cuomo, Governor Wolf, and Governor Carney:
You all have significant decisionmaking authority with regard to the proposed PennEast pipeline project. As Commissioners of the Delaware River Basin Commission (“DRBC”) you collectively have extensive regulatory authority with regard to the review and decisionmaking over the PennEast application to construct approximately 120 miles of pipeline through New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In addition, Governors Murphy and Wolf, your environmental agencies have an irreplaceable obligation pursuant to the Clean Water Act to ensure compliance with all applicable state water quality standards.
The PennEast pipeline is proposed to cross Special Protection designated reaches of the Lower Delaware River. Community members have provided significant comment on the impacts of such a crossing. The pipeline is proposed to cross under the F.E.Walter and Beltzville reservoirs and several existing recreation project areas listed in the Commission's Comprehensive Plan. It would disturb more than 25 acres of wetlands, and would require a special-use permit for pipelines constructed within floodways per the Commission's Floodplain Regulations. In New Jersey, PennEast proposes 38 crossings of pristine C1 streams that drain into the Delaware River and Delaware & Raritan Canals. In Pennsylvania PennEast will require 1,574 acres of earth disturbance; will impact over 15,000 linear feet of stream with EV, HQ, MF, CWF designations; and will impact over 35 acres of floodplain and over 43 acres of wetlands. PennEast has not demonstrated that it can cross these protected streams and wetlands without damaging water quality. The combination of steep slopes and hard bedrock that must be overcome in a number of these crossings, particularly in New Jersey, make protection of water quality nearly impossible.
DRBC has broad authority over pipelines such as PennEast that will inflict significant impacts on the water resources of the basin and should ensure it exercises the full extent of that authority. Every one of the DRBC watershed states has an important stake in the outcome of the PennEast project, and the precedent that it sets for strong and meaningful DRBC review and decisionmaking. The undersigned groups and individuals urge each and every Commissioner to take seriously your decisonmaking role over this pipeline as a Commissioner of the DRBC. Congress has granted DRBC broad authority under its congressionally approved compact, we expect you to use that authority to protect our water resources and communities from PennEast. Based upon the public record on the PennEast pipeline, it is clear that DRBC has the authority to reject the PennEast pipeline for lack of complete and accurate information, because of the significant and irreparable harm to the water resources of the basin, and/or because of the harmful impacts to the natural resources of impacted states.
The application materials, as submitted by PennEast to DRBC and to the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, do not demonstrate that the pipeline meets the requirements of law. Members of the public -- through comment, photodocumentation, and expert reports – have demonstrated the many scientific and factual deficiencies in the PennEast proposal. These deficiencies are found in the materials submitted to the DRBC as well as to the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In response, New Jersey has rejected the PennEast application until such time as it can provide full and accurate information. Pennsylvania and DRBC should similarly close the file on PennEast for failing to provide full and accurate information.
In addition, based on the data and information that has been submitted to the DRBC and to state and federal agencies, we can already see that the proposed PennEast pipeline will have a substantial effect on the water resources of the Delaware River basin, and on the natural environments and communities of New Jersey and in Pennsylvania. This information demonstrates that PennEast, as proposed, simply cannot meet the legal requirements of the DRBC, of New Jersey or of Pennsylvania and should be rejected. When the New Jersey application is filed, the state should use its clear authority to reject approvals for PennEast -- it is clear they will not be able to meet the requirements of the laws of the state. When the Pennsylvania application materials are complete, it too should reject PennEast as it is clear the pipeline will not be able to meet the requirements of state law. DRBC should immediately close the file on PennEast for lack of full and accurate information and when the time for substantive decision making arrives, should deny a docket to PennEast as it is clear the proposed pipeline will inflict irreparable harm on the water resources of the basin.
Respectfully submitted, Name, title & organization if applicable
c. Major General Jeffrey L. Milhorn, DRBC CommissionerCatherine R. McCabe, New Jersey Alternate DRBC CommissionerBasil Seggos, New York Alternate CommissionerShawn M. Garvin, Delaware Alternate CommissionerPatrick McDonnell, Pennsylvania Alternate CommissionerLieutenant Colonel Kristen N. Dahle, Federal Alternate CommissionerSteve Tambini, Executive Director, DRBC