Upper Bucks residents’ spirited campaign against the Adelphia Gateway pipeline was dealt a crushing blow after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the project.
The 2-1 decision, predictably along party lines, comes after more than a year of debate across several townships, a state DEP hearing, and dozens of citizen filings with FERC.
Commissioners said they were “satisfied that Adelphia has taken appropriate steps to minimize adverse impacts on landowners” and wholeheartedly endorsed the findings of a 2018 environmental assessment concluding that the pipeline and compressor station would have no significant impact on the surrounding environment.
Arianne Elinich, of Concerned Citizens Against Pipelines, said in a statement Dec. 30 the ruling diminishes the significance of the impacts of the Adelphia Gateway Pipeline Project. “We all have the right to clean air, a healthy environment, and a livable climate and we remain steadfast in our conviction that this project is unnecessary and not in the best interest of the public good.”
The 167-page report offers few crumbs of comfort to West Rockhill residents concerned about the effect of a 24-hour compressor station on their health, water, property values and quality of life. After dismissing these impacts, FERC nonetheless encourages Adelphia to comply with local noise and zoning ordinances in the township, but then states that the proposed site, at 1.2 acres, which would violate the township’s zoning ordinance, is appropriate. The township maintains the proposed structure does not meet the minimum lot size for an F1 Utility Use and lacks an adequate buffer.
The report also recommends Adelphia test wells within 150 feet of the site prior to and after construction.
Bizarrely and incorrectly, the report states the 84-mile pipeline “will not cross Springfield Township” in its rejection of the township’s concern about the effect of the project on water quality of the Cooks Creek, an exceptional value watershed.
“In the unlikely event of a pipeline leak during operation, natural gas would dissipate rapidly upward into the atmosphere. Therefore, natural gas leaks would not have any direct impacts on waterbodies in the region,” FERC concludes.
The commissioners also request Adelphia to implement and make public a karst monitoring plan prior to construction. Springfield supervisors mandated the plan in their response to the environmental assessment because of the possibility of damage and leakage due to sinkholes.
In his dissent, Democrat Richard Glick said his colleagues didn’t adequately address greenhouse gas emissions and were required by the U.S. Supreme Court to implement mitigation measures if projects such as Adelphia had a significant environmental impact.