CT EXPANSION NEWS:401 Water Quality Certificate appeal updatefrom Katy Eiseman of PLAN-NE
An important update regarding our 10-citizen appeal of the 401 Water Quality Certification issued by MassDEP for the Connecticut Expansion project: TGP's response to the appeal was to sue all of the petitioners, and MassDEP, in federal court.
A hearing is scheduled for September 29th at the U.S. District Court in Boston. TGP claims that MassDEP lacks jurisdiction to continue with its administrative process, because a section in the Natural Gas Act provides for ultimate review at the federal Circuit Court of Appeals (rather than state court, which is normally where final DEP orders are reviewed after the internal agency appeals process is complete).
The legal maneuvering gets complicated: TGP argues that either the NGA preempts the MassDEP Office of Appeals & Dispute Resolution from exercising jurisdiction over our appeal, or that the 401 water quality certification itself is preempted “because it delays and adds costs to the construction of the Project”. Meanwhile, we lodged an appeal at the First Circuit Court of Appeals to preserve all rights to appeal in federal court should that become necessary. We then filed a Motion to Stay the First Circuit proceeding (that we had just initiated) until the state administrative process is completed, or alternatively, to have the federal appeal dismissed if the Circuit Court considers it unripe.
So at this point the matter is under review in three different venues. This means we have had to spend significant funds before even reaching the merits of our appeal. Your generous contributions have helped us sustain this and other legal efforts to date. Because of the federal litigation, however, we will need additional funding to continue these efforts through the end of the year. Please help us see this through.
We (or MassDEP) will now have to defend the agency's right to prevent tree-felling while our appeal is ongoing, but so far our appeal has had the effect of preventing any such activity.
Sandisfield pipeline spawns water quality battles on three fronts, potentially delaying the project
By Mary Douglas, Berkshire Edge
Tuesday, Sep 27, 2016
An appeal of the water quality certification in the Otis State Forest pipeline controversy has combusted into a legal and jurisdictional dispute in three jurisdictions – the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the U. S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
In June, the Western Regional Office of the MassDEP issued the water quality certification for the pipeline work, which is required by the federal Clean Water Act. Backed by the judicial ruling and the water certification, the plan appeared to be rolling along smoothly.
Then, a group of citizens, convinced that the water quality certification failed to protect Spectacle Pond and nearby wetlands and waterways, stuck a stick in the spokes of the project’s wheel.
Water Quality Issues In Three Forums: MassDEP, Federal District Court, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
In July, Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Inc. (BEAT), Jean Atwater-Williams, Ronald M. Bernard, Rosemary Wessel, Kathryn R. Eiseman, Jane Winn and others (“the Citizens”) appealed the water quality certification to the MassDEP Office of Appeals and Dispute Resolution.
Potential, irreversible damage to Lower Spectacle Pond prompted a protest against the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. project.
Pointing out numerous ways in which the certification failed to comply with the Commonwealth’s water quality standards, the Citizens asked the MassDEP to grant them an adjudicatory hearing.
MassDEP issued an order scheduling a hearing for January 18, 2017. If the hearing goes forward, the hearing officer will issue a decision after the hearing, and the MassDEP Commissioner will then consider the decision, make any changes, and issue a final water quality certification.
In August, however, Tennessee followed Citizens’ appeal with two of its own filings, adding the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection as a defendant in both, in addition to the Citizens.
In the first filing, the company sought an injunction from the Federal District Court for Massachusetts to stop MassDEP from hearing the water certification appeal. Tennessee also asked the District Court to rule that the only court that had the power to hear the water certification case was the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
In the second filing with the MassDEP Office of Appeals and Dispute Resolution, Tennessee requested that MassDEP stay the administrative appeal that the Citizens had initiated until the District Court ruled on the injunction. An administrative appeal involves internal proceedings in a state agency rather than judicial proceedings in a court.
In its District Court filing, Tennessee complained that the state adjudicatory hearing itself, together with appeals that the Citizens could theoretically file in state courts “could potentially delay the commencement of the Project by three years…By contrast, an appeal properly filed in the United States Court of Appeals typically takes approximately a year.” Alternatively, the company argued, the water quality certification itself is preempted “because it delays and adds costs to the project.”
CT FIGHTS BACK:People Over Pipelines Connecticut Expansion Walk in CT well attended!
The march drew attention to the ratepayer subsidized gas pipeline expansion which is taking place throughout Connecticut. Starting at noon on September 24, about 100 participants joined in the march to demonstrate against the increase of fracked gas in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Participants followed the Kinder Morgan pipeline route in Suffield and East Granby.
In remarks at the rally, Sierra Club leader Martha Klein stated, “We’re here today to fight for the future of our planet, but the real reason to oppose this new pipeline is that it’s expensive, unneeded and what’s worse we’re paying for it! What part of this project is there to like?” Arielle Landau, a student in her senior year at Choate in Wallingford, CT added, “It’s so important for us to be a part of this fight, because it’s about our future and the future of our planet. There is simply no reason to build another gas pipeline in Connecticut that my generation will be forced to pay for when we have so many better and cheaper renewable energy options such as solar and wind power.”
Diane Lentakis of 350 CT added, “I’m marching here today to oppose a new taxpayer-funded pipeline because natural gas presents many of the same problems as oil and coal: toxic emissions, huge transport costs, and huge risks of accidents. I want Connecticut to be a leader in our country’s transition to clean energy. We can take a major step towards this goal by opposing this costly pipeline and instead investing in renewable and clean energy. “
Many Connecticut residents have unknowingly been paying for the expansion of fracked gas in Connecticut through ratepayer increases on their electric bill since 2013, thanks to CT law makers passing the “Comprehensive Energy Strategy” (CES). In 2015, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a law that mandated future ratepayer subsidies for multi-state gas pipeline projects. Soon, ratepayers will be subsidizing the construction of interstate gas pipelines; Connecticut residents will essentially be paying for gas to be shipped through New England and exported to Canada.
The next focus of Connecticut residents will be the new CES, making sure that it is free of subsidies and programs supporting further fossil fuel expansion. This fall and winter, there will be hearings and comment periods in which citizens can evaluate the program and demand a focus on efficiency and clean energy. Please check myCTCES.org
for information as it becomes available.
Citizen monitoring captures more Spectra construction violations
These are photos from community monitoring of AIM construction in Westchester, NY, documenting using debris for trench fill, lack of erosion control and flooding problems. Since construction oversight is mostly self-reported by the pipeline companies, citizen documentation like this report
recently filed on the FERC Docket for AIM (CP14-96) by Delaware Riverkeepers becomes one of the surest ways to know what violations and shortcuts are actually happening.
This takes "if you see something, say something" to a whole new, meaningful level.
NUMBERS to CALL IN COMPLAINTS:
- The Spectra Hotline Number for Homeowners is 1-866-873-2579.
- The FERC Customer Service number is 1-866-208-3372
or FERC Document number CP14-96 on ferc.gov
- The FERC Landowner Hotline is 1-877-337-2237
Franklin Co. community monitor comes under fire for investigating bomb trains
The value of citizens monitoring fossil fuel operations has become increasingly evident as AIM and CT Expansion pipeline projects have moved forward. Another threat to our area is "bomb trains", rail transportation of oil and other hazardous materials; a concern raised by protesters in Greenfield
Don Ogden, known to many area residents as d.o., the host and producer of the radio program, the Enviro Show
, went to do some citizen monitoring of his own, after hearing that rail officials told a local reporter that Bakken crude oil train cars haven't traveled local tracks for years.
As he recently told fellow fossil fuel activiists, "I've been trying to ascertain if there is any truth to that statement. As part of that effort I went over to the PanAm rail yards in Deerfield, MA last month to see for myself if any of the tank cars had the hazmat number #1267 which would ID them as Bomb Train tankers. I confined myself to unposted areas so as not to trespass on railroad property, however Pan Am is now trying to bust me for trespass by giving false information to the police."
He has legal representation and is due for a court appearance in Greenfield District Court on Friday, September 30 at 8:30AM. PanAm may drop the charges, but if they deem to go forward with the trial, d.o. is hoping the activist community will rally around his efforts. "I may not be Amy Goodman," he said, "but as a practicing journalist I have just as much right to pursue a story and to the rights of journalistic freedom. I hope you agree."
Please let your friends and our fellow activists know about this situation. Together we can get to the bottom of this story, find out whether our communities are indeed threatened by these highly explosive Bomb Trains and push back against corporate railroads' efforts to intimidate community media.
• Check No Fracked Gas in Mass' Events page for many more.
SATURDAY — OCTOBER 1, 2016 — WORCESTER, MA
MONDAY — OCTOBER 3, 2016 — CONCORD, NH
SATURDAY — OCTOBER 15, 2016 — WORCESTER, MA
SATURDAY — OCT. 29, 2016 — CASTLETON-ON-HUDSON, NY
— Renewable Energy Fair.
Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline is sponsoring its first "Renewable Energy Fair". The goal is to educate the public about why the march towards renewable energies, conservation, efficiency and sustainability is so important at this time. Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline will have information and displays on residential, commercial, and community solar, wind and geothermal energy. Look for NYSERDA opportunities and grants, information about insulation and other energy efficiency products and services, Electric Vehicles, ways to pay your electric bill via renewable energy, information on conservation and sustainability (CSAs, light bulbs, composting, recycling...), food, beverage and children's activities. Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline is seeking exhibitors of residential, commercial or community solar, wind, or geothermal energy options from Columbia, Rensselaer and nearby counties in NY. We are also seeking information on insulation choices, energy efficiency, electric vehicles, sustainability, etc. There are limited spaces available both indoors and outdoors.
If you have questions, contact Bob Connors or Becky Meier at: 518-781-4686 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
10 AM - 3 PM
Maple Hill High School
1216 Maple Hill Rd
NEW TO THE PIPELINE MOVEMENT? We'd like to welcome all our new subscribers and invite you to look over our Getting Started and Act Now pages to see ideas on how you and your community can fight the pipelines!
Defeating the Pipelines!
Thanks to Your Help!
We'll still be here, fighting the CT Expansion pipeline and aiding other communities fighting AIM, Access Northeast, Constitution and others, and keeping an eye out for possible resurrection of NED or another restructured project. We'll also still be working with PLAN-NE, Mass Power Forward and other organizations to help ensure bold steps away from fossil fuel dependency continue and grow!