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TGP court challenge redux; Cummins Hill appeal rejected by FERC

By Tom Kane
February 6, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC — When the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) came down on the side of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP), rejecting the appeal by the Pike County Cummins Hill protest group and other groups for further public hearings, TGP was smacked with another challenge, this time in federal court.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the New Jersey Highlands Coalition are combining in a lawsuit filed on January 10. The petition asks the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a stay of the FERC order and certification issued on May 29, 2012 as well as its Notice to Proceed with Construction issued to TGP’s Northeast Upgrade Project (NEUP).

Petitioners are represented by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s attorneys and the Environmental Law Center at Columbia Law School.

“This is the worst kind of project,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and head of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “The pipeline company is cutting through our region for a project that will itself inflict irreparable harm to mature forests, residential communities, and pristine streams and wetlands, causing increased water and air pollution as well as increased water runoff contributing to flooding and drought.”

The project will encourage more gas drilling and fracking across Pennsylvania, she said. FERC didn’t do its job of demanding a thorough review of all the harmful impacts through a full Environmental Impact Statement looking at the whole project and not just a small segment of it near Milford, she said.

“This is bad government supporting a bad project and hurting good people,” van Rossum said.

“I’m sorry we failed in our appeal,” said Jolie deFesi, spokesperson for the Cummins Hill group, “but welcome with enthusiasm the Riverkeeper and the NJ Highlands Coalition’s opposition.”

“FERC must exercise its jurisdictional obligations to ensure that the benefits are not outweighed by the costs to the public, and protect the public trust resources of our water supply and natural landscapes,” said Julia Sommers, Executive Director of the NJ Highlands Coalition.

Three of the “loops,” which are being spun off of the NEUP’s main line (Loops 321, 323 and 325) span Wayne and Pike counties in Pennsylvania and Sussex County in New Jersey. Their purpose is to carry gas from the Marcellus gas fields of Pennsylvania to markets in New York, New Jersey and beyond.