Save the Date! DEP Hearings on DTE pipeline/Birdsboro power plant, 11/2/2017

Save the Date! DEP Hearings on DTE pipeline/Birdsboro power plant, 11/2/2017

The public will have the opportunity to comment on water quality permits for the DTE pipeline and Birdsboro power plant at a public hearing on November 2nd. If the DEP rejects the permits, the pipeline is stopped. No pipeline means no power plant. 

We need to be at the Birdsboro public libary at 5:30 on Thursday, November 2nd in big numbers. We’ll rally at 5:30 and then attend the hearing at 6:30. We need lots of people who attend to comment during the hearing. Comments can go no longer than 5 minutes and, if enough people show up, they’ll likely shorten it to three minutes per person, so you don’t need to say anything detailed. I’ll  be happy to work with anyone interested in preparing a comment who is unsure about where to begin.


Although the DTE pipeline is only 14 miles long and located entirely within Berks County, it is subject to the federal approval because it would be built as a  branch of  Texas Eastern natural gas intertate transmission pipeline to provide gas to its only customer, the proposed Birdsboro power plant.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was tasked with reviewing natural gas transmission lines about 30 years ago. In that time, the Commission has approved 456 and rejected 1. The agency is widely criticized for being too close to the industry it is supposed to regulate. The public’s interests regularly take a back seat to the industry’s.

That means that the public needs to look elsewhere for protection. You know the phrase, “All politics is local”? It means that local and county governments’ decisions impact us much more directly than many of the decisions made at the federal level. However, federal law exempts local and county governments from the pipeline approval process. They have no legal say whatsoever.

And that’s what makes the state government so important in pipeline projects. It has some, albeit very limited, authority in pipeline reviews. Its only authority is to approve or deny necessary water quality certification.

The bad news is that Pennsylvania’s Department of Enviromental Protection is notorious for its premature approval of pipeline projects. The good news is that the DEP is notorious for its premature approvals. In other words, a long-standing issue with the DEP has come home to roost in a number of pipeline projects where the agency’s haste has caused big problems.

One getting a lot of attention these days is the contamination of private water supplies as a result of drilling mud spills during horizontal directional drilling (HDD) of the Mariner East II pipeline. The technology familiar to those who know how fracking works is used to lay pipelines under things rather than through them. The company behind that pipeline had failed after attempts spanning a couple of years to provide the amount of information the DEP needed to issue the permits, yet they were issued and the communities along the pipeline route are paying the price. The agency has come under scrutiny for its haste in recent months.

We need to send a loud and clear message to the DEP that we are opposed to the pipeline AND the power plant and want the agency to reject the water quality certification sought for the pipeline. To do that, we need a HUGE turnout at the public hearing. Can you join us?


Announcement from DEP

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will hold a public hearing on permits related to the proposed Birdsboro Power LLC natural gas power generation facility. The hearing will be held Thursday, November 2, 2017 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Boone Area Library, 129 N. Mill Street, Birdsboro, PA 19508.

The hearing will focus on the applications submitted for the Chapter 105 Water Obstruction and Encroachment Permits by Birdsboro Power LLC, DTE Midstream Appalachia LLC (DTE), and the related water supply line proposed by Reading Area Water Authority (RAWA), in addition to the Erosion and Sediment Control General Permit (ESCGP-2) and the request for Water Quality Certification by DTE for the proposed natural gas transmission pipeline.

During the hearing, each speaker will have the opportunity to present up to five (5) minutes of verbal testimony. Relinquishing of time to other speakers will be prohibited and groups are asked to designate one speaker. Presenters are asked to keep all comments relevant and on topic. All presenters should bring at least one copy of their written comments and exhibits for submission to DEP.

Those who wish to present testimony are asked to register in advance by contracting John Repetz, DEP’s community relations coordinator for the South-central region at 717-705-4904 or Registration will be taken through noon on Wednesday, November 1. Individuals will be called to testify in the order they registered. If time permits, those who did not register in advance will be given an opportunity to testify.

DEP will also accept written comments on the Chapter 105 Water Obstruction and Encroachment permit applications and the Water Quality Certification request through Monday November 6, 2017, and written comments on the ESCGP-2 application until November 20, 2017. Comments may be emailed to RA-EPWW-SCRO@PA.GOV or mailed to PA Department of Environmental Protection, South-central Regional Office, Waterways and Wetlands Program, 909 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110.

WHAT: Public hearing on proposed Birdsboro Power LLC natural gas power generation facility
WHEN: Thursday, November 2, 2017, 6:30—8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Boone Area Library, 129 N. Mill Street, Birdsboro, PA 19508