FERC Approves DTE Birdsboro Pipeline, Ignoring Contamination and Climate Change


Contact:         Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth, 610-678-7726

FERC Approves DTE Birdsboro Pipeline, Ignoring Contamination and Climate Change

Kutztown, PA –

Statement by Berks Gas Truth Founder Karen Feridun

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the DTE Birdsboro pipeline today after dismissing concerns about contamination on the site of the Birdsboro power plant and choosing to overlook the impacts of building new natural gas power plants and pipelines during a climate emergency.

In its order today, FERC discussed the lawsuit filed by Birdsboro Power LLC that we submitted to the docket in early December. The Commissioners were satisfied that the contamination had been remediated in spite of the fact that the company referred to “significant remaining contamination” in its legal filing and the fact that, 5 days prior to the lawsuit being filed, a worker on the site was overcome when the track loader he was operating punctured one of several chlorine gas canisters buried on the site that were not mentioned in the lawsuit and were likely unknown to the company unless it is in the habit of directing workers to use heavy equipment in areas where they know chlorine gas canisters are buried.

Today’s decision is disappointing, but not surprising. FERC has only rejected one pipeline in the 30 years it has had the authority to review pipeline projects.

The public was never informed of the contamination on the site, except for occasional media reports. Birdsboro LLC’s lawsuit to recover the costs of cleaning up the contamination on the site was filed after the DEP’s public comment period ended and wasn’t discovered until days before FERC’s ended. The DEP ignored our request for a reopening of the comment period; FERC rejected it. Neither agency considered the contamination in their environmental reviews. More recently, the DEP has failed to respond to a Right-to-Know request filed by Berks Gas Truth hours after it approved the remaining permits for both the power plant and pipeline.

Our environment and our democracy seem to be in a neck-in-neck race to their death. As today’s decision exemplifies, it’s too close to call.

The order can be read here.