Letter to Legislators re: Birdsboro Power Lawsuit

December XX, 2017

Congressman Ryan Costello
840 North Park Road
Wyomissing, PA 19610

Congressman Pat Meehan
2004 Weaverton Road
Douglassville, PA 19518

Senator Bob Casey
2000 Market Street, Suite 610
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Senator Pat Toomey
8 Penn Center
1628 John F. Kennedy Blvd. Suite 1702
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Senator Judith Schwank
201 George Street Suite 201
Reading, PA 19605

Senator John Rafferty Jr
2325 Pottstown Pike
Pottstown, PA 19465

Senator Bob Mensch
56 West Fourth Street, Floor 2
Red Hill, PA 18076

Representative David Maloney
515 Old Swede Road Suite B2
Douglassville, PA 19518

Representative Ryan MacKenzie
3402 Brookside Road
Macungie, PA 18062

Re: Birdsboro Power Plant/DTE Birdsboro pipeline

Dear Legislators:

In light of the “significant remaining contamination of PCBs and other hazardous substances at the site” of the proposed Birdsboro Power Plant and the terminus of the proposed DTE Birdsboro pipeline, we, the undersigned, are calling on you, our state and federal legislators, to support our demand for the denial of all remaining permits and certificates for both projects.

In written comments submitted to both the DEP and FERC and in testimony given at the DEP’s public hearing in October, we have voiced concerns over contamination extant on the site. We have never been able to get an accurate description of the state of the site, something that is particularly concerning because of the power plant’s unusually close proximity to residences. The filing made by Birdsboro Power LLC on November 21st provides additional details into ongoing problems, including asbestos materials in 16 buildings, unspecified hazardous materials located throughout the site, PCBs and other unspecified contaminants at levels higher than state health standards, and PCB-, VOC-, and SVOC-laced water in sumps and pits at levels higher than state health standards. It is the clearest picture we have received to date and it is one that only heightens our concerns.

These revelations come as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is concluding the public comment period on the Environmental Assessment that concluded, “Based on the analysis contained within this EA, we have determined that if DTE constructs and operates the proposed facilities in accordance with its application and supplements and our recommended mitigation measures, approval of this proposal would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.” They come as the Department of Environmental Protection prepares to issue water quality certifications. And they come as work is already underway on the projects that have not received all of the required regulatory approvals.

As we’re sure you know, one worker on the site was injured just days before the case was filed by Birdsboro Power LLC when the track loader he was operating punctured a canister of chlorine gas. It is other side of the exaggerated jobs story too many of you tout.

We have raised many other issues with both projects, any one of which provides more than enough justification to end these dangerous and potentially deadly projects. The Birdsboro Power Plant is just one of at least 48 the DEP has approved since January of 2014. As the rest of the world is working to speed the transition away from fossil fuels, Pennsylvania’s government persists in its foolhardy preoccupation with a fuel whose main ingredient has a Global Warming Potential 86 times that of CO2. Its role as a bridge fuel has been demythologized time and again by credible climate scientists, including Dr. Robert Howarth of Cornell University who has testified before Pennsylvania legislators and met with Governor Tom Wolf. In his press conference at COP 23 in Bonn, Germany, he said that “methane is an important greenhouse gas and is currently responsible for an amount of global warming equal to approximately 60% of that caused by carbon dioxide. Methane reductions offer one of the few available approaches to immediately slow the rate of global warming, since the climate responds more quickly to decreases in methane compared to carbon dioxide.”

There is no upside to projects that put our health, safety, and environment at risk in the short term and exacerbate a problem that puts future generations’ ability to survive at risk in the long term. We call on you to stand with those you represent and help us stop the Birdsboro Power Plant and DTE Birdsboro pipeline.


Karen Feridun, Founder, Berks Gas Truth, on behalf of the undersigned
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