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Federal regulators postpone two scoping meetings on PennEast pipeline

The proposed alternate route of the PennEast pipeline. Click to enlarge the image.

Courtesy of PennEast Pipeline Company

The proposed alternate route of the PennEast pipeline. Click to enlarge the image.

Update at 2:15 pm: Wednesday’s scoping meeting in Bucks County has also been postponed. This story has been updated to reflect this new information.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has postponed its first two scoping meetings on the PennEast pipeline “due to unforeseen circumstances,” the agency wrote in a public notice.

The hearings were originally scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in Ewing, New Jersey and Newtown, Pennsylvania respectively. New dates and venues have not yet been scheduled. The meetings are part of what FERC calls the “scoping process” and are billed as a way to give the public a forum to comment as regulators prepare an environmental impact statement.

The PennEast project involves constructing 108 miles of 36-inch diameter pipeline to transport about 1 billion cubic feet a day of Marcellus Shale natural gas. The line would start in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania and end in Mercer County, New Jersey.

FERC’s postponement has rankled some landowners and environmental advocates who have criticized the agency for not scheduling a scoping meeting in Hunterdon County where the majority of properties in New Jersey would be affected.

In response to concerns from the public and local lawmakers, PennEast announced a new alternate route on February 15 the company says would allow about 50 percent of the pipeline to run parallel to existing rights-of-way. Click here to see the latest map on the PennEast website.

Groups, including the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, have asked FERC to schedule an additional hearing in New Jersey and to extend the public comment period 120 days to give them more time to assess the new route. The comment period ends on February 27.

“There is simply not enough time to prepare comments on a newly announced alternate route before [the] scoping meeting in Bucks County,” Michele Byers, executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, wrote in a letter to the agency.

FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen said the agency is still considering the groups’ request, noting that comments will be accepted past the deadline because PennEast is participating in the “pre-filing” process and has not yet filed a formal application for the pipeline.

“It’s an informal process, so if folks can’t get in by February 27th, they can submit comments any time,” Young-Allen said.

The three remaining scoping meetings will start at 6 p.m. Representatives from PennEast will be available for one hour before each meeting at 5 p.m. Here’s the schedule:

  • February 10 – Northampton Community College   3835 Green Pond Rd. Bethlehem, PA 18020
  • February 11 – Penn’s Peak   325 Maury Rd. Jim Thorpe, PA 18229
  • February 12 – Best Western Hotel & Conference Center   77 E Market St. Wilks-Barre, PA 18701

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