Local Permitting Process:
The gas pipeline project cannot begin without at least two local permits being issued: a general permit to begin construction, under the jurisdiction of Borough Manager Tom Fountaine, and a specific permit to allow night-time construction activities, under the jurisdiction of the State College Borough Council.
Top community priorities at the April 1 public hearing will be getting Mr. Fountaine and the Council to refuse to issue those permits, and enforcing protection of our health, safety and welfare under the provisions of the legally-binding Community Bill of Rights.
Communities across the country are watching the events in State College very, very closely, because it’s a precedent-setting situation. Traditionally, corporations interested in conducting activities to harm the health, safety and welfare of community residents can do so easily, because members of the community don’t recognize their inalienable legal standing to challenge or stop plans made without their knowledge and/or consent.
State College’s Community Bill of Rights makes this the first time any community in America has established its own legal standing to stop a corporate harm before the harm was proposed.
According to the Penn State Office of Physical Plant, resurfacing Borough streets after pipeline installation will confer a cost-savings of $2 million to Borough taxpayers.
However, a group of neighborhood residents used the market values of all the properties along the proposed pipeline route and calculated the lost property value (from increased leak/fire/explosion risk) of 15% per property, concluding that homeowners face an aggregate property value loss of $10.4 million.
Proposed Pipeline Route:
Key for the Impact Map showing PIR (Potential Impact Radius):
- YELLOW – 62.5 feet – Source: Transportation Research Board (National Academy of Sciences)
- ORANGE – 165 feet – Source: Gas Research Institute
- RED – 350 feet – Source: Xylene Power
CITIZEN ACTION UPDATE
How to Get Involved:
Sign the Stop the Pipeline Petition.
Call and write to the State College Borough Council, PSU Board of Trustees, Columbia Gas and more pipeline parties using Stop The Pipeline Contact Info. See, for example, Highlands Civic Association Letter 3.22.13
Email campaign organizers to let them know you support the Stop the Pipeline campaign and join the mailing list.
Attend the State College Borough Council Meeting Monday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Borough Building, 243 South Allen St. (3rd Floor). April 1 Flier – No One’s Fools
- WHO SHOULD COME? Even if you don’t live in the Borough, come out, speak up and support every community’s right to a sustainable energy future.
- SIGNS: Michal Stump has offered to make signs for participants to hold during the Council meeting on Monday. She just needs some ideas for slogans or sayings that will support our message. Contact Michal Stump (404-2940).
MEETING RULES – “In accordance with Council’s rules of procedure, members of the public will be allowed to speak on this matter after being recognized by the President of Council. Anyone wishing to speak must sign up. Sign -up sheets will be available in the lobby outside the Council Chamber beginning at 6:30 p.m. Each individual speaker will be limited to 4 minutes.” Also, a group of citizens may have an opportunity to make a 15-20 minute formal presentation on behalf of all those concerned about the pipeline and related issues.
PROHIBITION ON AUDIBLE APPLAUSE – Mayor Elizabeth Goreham stated during the March 18 Borough Council meeting that applause is not appropriate during Council meetings. Since applause is an important means of communication, allowing listeners to convey their support for another speaker’s comments, it would be good if the Council implemented and announced their approval for some form of silent support indications, such as thumbs-up signs, to maintain civility and order during the meeting without sacrificing their access to important community feedback.
Current community information channels include:
OFFICIAL ACTION UPDATE
There’s been minimal recent official action. The Penn State Office of Physical Plant put up a public information webpage last Friday:
Penn State Sustainability Institute leaders have declined to take an official position on the pipeline issue at this time, citing their mission.
“The mission of the Sustainability Institute is to facilitate, evaluate, and address the needs of the University community to provide a comprehensive integration of sustainability into the University’s research, teaching, and service that will prepare students, faculty, and staff to be today’s and tomorrow’s leaders.” (Email from Denice Wardrop, Director, April 1, 2013)
“Steve Maruszewski, assistant vice president of the Office of Physical Plant, has championed this integration for more than a decade. ‘We have incredible real-world opportunities to use the buildings, operations and planning at all of our campuses to supplement what students learn in their classroom and what researchers investigate in their labs.’ “
ENGINEERING – PIPELINE SAFETY & ENERGY SYSTEMS DESIGN
- Zwart Presentation to PSU Board of Trustees, 3.15.13
- Engineering & Renewable Energy System Planning – Citizen Discussions
- Ni-Source Engineering Analysis 3.31.13 (Released 4.1.13 via Borough Council agenda webpage, based on interviews and site tours conducted previous week.)
- Heat Pump Chiller Brochure, referenced by Kevin Gombotz
- Pipeline Safety and Emergency Preparedness – Citizen Discussions
- Link: National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives
- The shale gale is a retirement party (re: shale gas a a short-term resource, bridge fuel to nowhere)
To my knowledge, no lawsuits have been filed yet. Steve Lachman has agreed to represent concerned citizens on the regulatory issues involved. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund has agreed to represent concerned citizens – and the State College Borough Council, if they side with the community – to fend off the attack on the Community Bill of Rights. Several plaintiffs have agreed to join these potential lawsuits and are currently organizing themselves and developing strategic plans.
In the meantime, one concerned resident consulted an attorney about filing for an injunction to stop the process; such an injunction would be based on five required parts, quoting the resident’s email:
- The existence of irreparable harm (safety and security)
- The unavailability of any adequate remedy under the law (the project cannot be stopped by normal regulatory mechanisms)
- The threatened harm to us outweighs the harm to Penn State and Columbia Gas (we will have to live with a potential fireball explosion)
- We will be hurt (property values lowered, tearing up of streets, emotional pain and suffering)
- Granting the injunction will not subvert a greater public interest (we are the greater public interest)
As litigation moves forward, organizers need to collect a lot of documents. For starters:
- PSU Office of Physical Plant engineering and safety studies, reports, meeting minutes and contracts
- Borough of State College engineering and safety studies, reports, meeting minutes and contracts
- Columbia Gas/NiSource engineering and safety studies, reports, meeting minutes and contracts
- PA-DEP and US-EPA applications, reviews, hearing minutes and permits
- PA and US Department of Transportation applications, reviews, hearing minutes and permits
WPSU – 91.5 FM Radio
- A Morning Edition report will air on April 1, 2013 at 6:51 and 8:51 a.m. Listen live at wpsu.org. The story will also be on the website sometime that day.
Centre Daily Times
- Our View: Delay pipeline project, consider alternatives, March 24
- Design group reviews Penn State’s West Campus plant conversion plans, by Jessica Vanderkolk, March 28
- Residents raise concerns over safety, property values with proposed State College gas pipeline, by Jessica Vanderkolk, March 23
- Gas pipeline project worries State College residents, will help Penn State meet federal regulations, by Jessica Vanderkolk, March 20
- Penn State missing an opportunity to lead the way, by Bob Rodino, March 27
- Letter to the Editor, Asher Evans, March 26
- Letter to the Editor, David Swanson, March 26
- Letter to the Editor, Janet Engeman, March 21
- Letter to the Editor, Dee Ann P. Wylie, March 21
- Borough council hears community response about pipeline, March 19
- More answers are needed regarding natural gas pipeline, March 21
- Community members have meeting concerning gas pipeline, March 22
- Community members voice concerns over gas pipeline , March 25
- Students should pay attention to pipeline discussion, March 26
- Gas pipeline to run through State College, by Smita Bharti, April Edition (link to be posted when available; hard copies at Webster’s; see pp. 14-15)
PSU – Office of Physical Plant – Public Information Page
State College Groundswell Campaign
- Groundswell E-Newsletter – March 27 Edition
- Video Recording of State College Borough Council March 18, 2013 Meeting (Numerous residents spoke in opposition to the proposed pipeline)
- Video Recording of Penn State Board of Trustees March 15, 2013 Meeting (Johan Zwart presented information in opposition to the proposed pipeline)
Information gathered through 4 p.m. Sunday, March 31. Check the PSU Renewable Conversion – Phase 1 archives for previous posts. Corrections and updates welcome. Information for the Monday Morning Pipeline News – April 8 edition is due by 6 p.m. Sunday, April 7.