Looking at Lambertville, N.J. across the Delaware River from New Hope, Pa. PHOTo by Meg McGuire

DRBC will hold independent hearings on proposed PennEast project

Pipelines that carry gas from one state to another need approval from one or more agencies at the state or federal level. One of the most important is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and it almost always grants permission. Some people say that's because it's an insider institution since its commissioners are usually drawn from the energy industry, more responsive to the business of energy than to the concerns of citizens. Though it should be noted that the need for energy is often not felt where the energy is created: FERC approves projects that any one state or municipality might reject.

In the case of the PennEast Pipeline, one of the other agencies that needs to approve the project is the Delaware River Basin Commission, since the pipeline will not only have to cross the Delaware River itself, but also the watershed of that river.

The pipeline's route does vary as the project moves forward, but essentially it is 118 miles of 36-inch pipe buried underground that originates in Dallas, Luzerne County Pa., just north of Wilkes-Barre and ends in Pennington, Mercer County, N.J.

Initially, the DRBC had requested a single joint public hearing with FERC on the pipeline.

The DRBC has been deluged with requests for multiple, separate public hearings, seven in all, held along the length of the pipeline so that residents will have an easier time getting to those public hearings.

On April 26, 2016, the DRBC wrote to FERC to withdraw its request for that single public hearing. Not surprisingly, that news delighted the growing body of people and organizations that oppose the pipeline.

Here's a link to the note that the DRBC has on its website about its decision.

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