Managng Editor
Chairman Richard Caridi, Pike County Board of Commissioners, expressed “disappointment and frustration” that several parties invited to a meeting Sept. 18 with Commissioners about Tennessee Gas Pipeline, were not going to attend. Commissioners canceled the meeting. Federal legislators, the PA Governor’s Office, Tennessee Gas Pipeline LLC, National Park Service and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) were among the invited parties. He described them as key decision-makers in the process, and all were given four to six week notice. At the regular Sept. 19 Commissioners’ meeting, Caridi called the special meeting a “last ditch” effort to try and persuade FERC to schedule a new hearing about the route for the Northeast Upgrade project. FERC had given approval to a route that takes the pipeline through environmentally sensitive areas, near the Cummins Hill neighborhood not far from a school. The County preferred a route through existing right-of-way in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, a path the Park Service rejects. While not knowing what their next step would be, Caridi said he was glad to hear that US Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, has asked FERC to set a new hearing. He noted that Columbia Gas was able to cut through Park Service land several years ago, by first getting permission from Congress. He questioned why Tennessee Gas Pipeline could not do the same. Pike County also asked Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company to do the same re-forestation of lands affected by the pipeline, as the company is required to do in New Jersey. The company agreed, which Caridi called a “small victory.” Under Pennsylvania law, the pipeline firm was not mandated to restore the forest that would be disrupted as it is required in the neighboring state. He related that the pipeline company states that they have a right to proceed with the route, having temporary approval from FERC. The line in question concerns Loop 323, involving seven miles of 30-inch-diameter pipeline in Pike County. FERC approved the section on May 29, detouring a mile of Park Service land. In related news, the Delaware River Basin Commission was served with a formal Petition Sept. 12, asserting that the regulatory body has an obligation to exercise its jurisdiction over the proliferation of pipelines being constructed and proposed within the boundaries of the Delaware River watershed. According to the Petition, pipelines are a significant source of waterway degradation and, according to the Delaware River Basin Compact and DRBC's Rules of Practice and Procedure, are subject to DRBC jurisdiction, docketing and oversight. The Petition was served during the public comment period of the September 12th DRBC public meeting by Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, on behalf of the membership organization the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.