Stop the Transco Regional Energy Access Pipeline Project from Prematurely Cutting Forests
Tell FERC, PA Governor Shapiro and his DEP, NJ BPU, and Army Corps to stand strong and not be bullied for another fracked gas pipeline expansion! No clear cutting should be allowed!
Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (“Transco”) proposes to construct a new natural gas pipeline called the Regional Energy Access Expansion (REAE). The project consists of 22.3 miles of 30-inch-diameter pipeline in Luzerne County, PA; 13.8 miles of 42-inch-diameter pipeline in Monroe County, PA; a gas-fired turbine driven compressor station in Gloucester County, NJ; and several other modifications to existing pipeline and compressor stations. On January 11, 2023, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing the construction and operation of the project.
FERC initially stayed the certificate but just lifted the stay on February 15, 2023 after pressure from Transco. Currently, FERC regulations prohibit construction because of several rehearing requests that were filed by Delaware Riverkeeper Network and other advocates. Now, Transco is again pressuring FERC to waive this regulation and issue a Notice to Proceed (NTP) to allow Transco to start cutting trees along the pipeline right-of-way with chainsaws. Despite the fact that the NTP has not yet been granted, FERC’s filings in the last 24 hours are showing a fast moving train for the fossil fuel companies so we need to hear your voices now!
Transco is champing at the bit and placing flags in the ground in preparation for the tree cutting with chainsaws and in their own documents to FERC they state over 288 acres of mature forest would need to be cut by chainsaws – often along EV and HQ streams and wetlands to get ready for earth moving.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requires that tree cutting only take place between November 16 and March 31 in order to protect federally-listed bat species and migrating birds (though we have observed waivers be used by the fossil fuel pipeline industry before to extend the harm into April). Transco is rushing to chainsaw trees before March 31 so that their project is not delayed to put another nail in the coffin of PA forests - despite the opposition and rehearing requests still pending before FERC – this pipeline does not have any need and the legal process should be completed before any harm and tree cutting should be allowed – our forests and mature trees are at stake! With the warm winter we have had, bats will certainly emerge before March 31 so the timeline is meaningless and really is just another ploy by industry to try to use agencies’ guidelines against the resources they are in charge to protect – we won’t have it – especially here in Pennsylvania if folks remember the Constitution pipeline damage and tree cutting of mature forest and maple syrup farms even though the pipeline was never built!
On top of this, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued Chapter 102 and Chapter 105 permits to Transco on Feb 3, 2023 without notifying the public or the coalition of environmental organizations to the issuance. DEP has been quiet and did not even update their pipeline portal website with this permit issuance info until finally on 2/16/23, so that the public could actually see the permit conditions and comment and response documents after years of public outcry for another expansion of pipe through the very cleanest streams of the Commonwealth. We cannot have the agencies cave now and sneakily allow tree cutting for Transco’s fracked gas project.
Please take a moment now while this fast moving train by Transco is pressuring FERC and other agencies to begin the harm for yet another harmful and unnecessary damaging fossil fuel expansion pipeline project to say NO to the pipeline – the agencies must stay strong and not allow waivers or special favors for Transco.
Click here to submit an eComment to FERC
Docket #: CP21-94-000
eComments are for comments fewer than 6,000 characters by individuals. If commenting on behalf of a company, agency, organization, association, or other non-individual, or if comments exceed 6,000 characters, or include non-text material or file attachements, you must eRegister.
Please use the sample letter text below to help with your comment.
SAMPLE LETTER TEXT
Re: Transco REAE pipeline (FERC Docket: CP21-94-000; PADEP permits No. E4083221-006 (Luzerne County); E4583221-002 (Monroe County) and E&S Permit No. ESG830021002-00
The Transco Regional Energy Access Expansion (REAE) pipeline expansion would impact over 288 acres of forest cutting across 114 Exceptional Value (EV) wetlands, 77 waterbodies supporting cold water fisheries, 39 High Quality (HQ) streams, 2 Exceptional Value (EV) streams, 17 Class A Wild Trout Streams, and 57 waterbodies with naturally reproducing trout. Transco is rushing to start cutting trees before March 31, 2023 in order to adhere to the window set by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to protect federally-listed bats. In fact, Transco has already placed flags in the ground in preparation for the tree cutting and subsequent earth disturbance, despite the fact that many environmental groups and the public are engaged with rehearing and appeal requests at the federal and state levels. This has happened in the past with the Constitution Pipeline where trees were cut prematurely before permission was granted. This is a tactic purposefully deployed by pipeline companies to force their projects through. They know that once the trees are cut, there is no going back because some of the damage and harm is already done and we cannot allow this yet again while the PADEP stands by to allow it, especially with a pipeline route that is looking to jeopardize EV and HQ streams and mature forests in the Poconos. FERC and other agencies must hold its course and not allow waivers at this time.
A project of this magnitude that would have an immense impact on the environment and Exceptional Value and High Quality streams cannot be rushed through just so that Transco gets its way. This pipeline would cut through over 280 of mature forest which would impact the health of the streams it would cut across. With the warm temperatures this winter, bats will certainly emerge before March 31 so the timeline is not protecting anything. Bats do not have calendars and dates mean nothing, particularly in the face of climate change where the lines between seasons are increasingly blurred. The clearing of forest would expose the streams and wetlands to direct sunlight. The thermal impacts from this project cannot be overstated. Wetlands will dry up and stream temperatures will rise to the point where cold water aquatic life cannot tolerate it. There have been no provisions from Transco or the PA DEP to prevent these thermal impacts and their plans are filled with inaccuracies and false promises. I urge you to use your authority to prevent this rushed tree cutting from starting before the issues raised on rehearing are addressed by FERC. Transco does not have the right to circumvent the protections in place and they need to be held accountable and adhere to the regulations that exist for a reason.
Finally, the need for this pipeline is precarious at best and the climate change impacts that FERC must weigh are crucial with catastrophic climate change at our door – largely due to too little too late by the agencies beholden to the industry. FERC and the other agencies must stand up now and not allow waivers or premature tree cutting just because Transco is requesting FERC cave. We cannot keep rolling down the path of climate destruction with blinders on – the science is clear.
Additionally, please send comments to PADEP, PA Governor Shapiro, Army Corps, and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) using this form below.
For More details:
Transco REAE would be an extreme detriment to regional climate change goals because it will consist of 47.8% of New Jersey’s GHG budget in 2050. Nothing is stopping FERC from certificating a second project that would consist of 65% of New Jersey’s 2050 GHG budget, thus, FERC could virtually guarantee that New Jersey would not meet its emissions reductions goals, which is a large-scale issue that affects Pennsylvania as well. FERC also concluded that the REAE Project’s effects would be reduced to less-than-significant levels, and refused to evaluate the significance of the Project’s climate change impacts. This is despite the fact that FERC admitted that certain project components may be predominately borne by environmental justice communities and that approval of the Project would result in annual operation and downstream emissions of 16.62 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
The Transco REAE would impact 114 Exceptional Value (EV) wetlands and cross 77 waterbodies supporting cold water fisheries, 39 High Quality (HQ) streams, 2 Exceptional Value (EV) streams, 17 Class A Wild Trout Streams, and 57 waterbodies with naturally reproducing trout. Many of the streams that would be crossed by the project are cold water trout streams that are very sensitive to degradation. This project would also impact approximately over 280 acres of mature forests. Cutting the canopy forest around these anti-degradation PA streams exposes them to direct sunlight, raising the water temperature and jeopardizing their suitability as trout waters. Cutting forests and riparian buffers also creates habitat fragmentation and nutrient enrichment and subsequent sedimentation issues based on pipeline company track records. Transco requested and the PADEP with its issuance of the 102 and 105 permits fails to factor in not just the impacts of the fragmentation of the forest for these particular pipeline segments, but also by other cuts in the same region, either by Transco on its other pipeline pieces or by other pipeline/linear projects both within and outside the watershed. The project is proposed to be constructed within the habitat of several threatened and endangered plant and animal species including white-fringed orchid, Indiana bat, northern long-eared bat, timber rattlesnake, and bog turtle. Transco also completely ignores impacts to vernal pools, which are not mentioned once in FERC’s Final Environmental Impact Statement.
Take action by sending a comment to FERC, PADEP, Governor Shapiro, Army Corps, and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) opposing this pipeline expansion and the rushed tree cutting. Additionally, if you live along the proposed pipeline route and would like to volunteer to watchdog and monitor streams, wetlands, plants, and wildlife if construction is allowed in the coming weeks despite our attempts to stop it, please email email@example.com