Tuesday 11 December 2018


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                                                                           
October 21, 2016                                                                                                                    

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Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Carol Parenzan

on the 55,000 gallon oil spill in Lycoming County, PA

Flood Oct 21 2016 Photo 1In the wake of severe flooding in Central Pennsylvania, an 80-year-old pipeline burst early Friday morning, leaking upwards of 55,000 gallons of gasoline into Loyalsock Creek, in Gamble Township, northeast of Williamsport. By mid-day Friday, the spill was working its way into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

Carol Parenzan, Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper, said that witnesses who contacted her office said the “smell of petroleum is so thick you can taste it.”

Parenzan said that downstream drinking water is being monitored and precautions for public safety are being put in place. In Milton, just north of Lewisburg, the water plant operated by Pennsylvania American Water, is filling water storage tanks and preparing to shut down drinking water should the spill reach intakes for the water plant.   

Meanwhile, local and state agencies and emergency crews are having difficulty reaching the break due to high-water conditions, which happened on Wallis Run Road in Lycoming County.

“High water and flooding has taken a bridge out in the area,” Parenzan said. “A liquid fuel pipeline in the vicinity was originally exposed during 2011 flooding. When we don’t adequately address aging infrastructure, it is only a matter of time before calamity happens. The time for the Susquehanna River apparently arrived today in the form of this broken pipeline and spill.”

Parenzan said that the area is closed to everyone except emergency workers.

“This spill is not simply an issue of drinking water for people, although that is currently our most pressing concern. In the short- and long-term, fish and other aquatic life simply cannot survive in a contaminated river,” Parenzan said. “It is important that we not only maintain our aging energy infrastructure, but that we also remain vigilant about new pipelines and energy interests that threaten water quality.”

# # #

Federal agency stifling public participation by withholding information

A coalition of 17 conservation groups is calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to revise or supplement its draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the proposed Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. The groups note that FERC has continued a pattern of failing to disclose key information to the public about proposed pipelines and their considerable impacts.

To build the Atlantic Sunrise, the Transcontinental Pipe Line Company (Transco) proposes to construct nearly 200 miles of large diameter pipeline through ten Pennsylvania counties. The pipeline would move fracked gas from northern Pennsylvania to an existing pipeline in Lancaster County. The gas would then be shipped to the southeast and Gulf Coast regions.

“It is clear that FERC published the draft environmental impact statement before it had even received the information it needs to conduct a thorough review of this massive pipeline project,” said Barbara Arrindell, Director of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability. “FERC readily admits it still needs information about impacts on hundreds of proposed waterbody and wetlands crossings. This crucial information should have been included in the DEIS so the public has the opportunity to review and provide feedback during the public comment period. You certainly cannot comprehend the cumulative impact of a project without this type of information.”

Two federal agencies also criticized FERC for the lack of information in the Atlantic Sunrise DEIS. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said FERC ignored impacts on important resources including public water supplies, endangered species, and historic resources, and the Department of the Interior criticized FERC’s failure to disclose impacts to the Appalachian Trail and Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Both agencies called on FERC to revise or supplement the DEIS.

The groups point to EPA’s recent comments concerning several other pipelines as evidence of a pattern of FERC inhibiting meaningful public participation. The groups show that FERC regularly permits pipeline companies to withhold critical information about their projects until after the public comment period has ended. EPA has raised similar concerns about the proposed PennEast Pipeline and the Southeast Market Pipeline Project.

“EPA’s comments reveal that FERC is more concerned with expediting its rubber stamp on pipeline projects than in informing the public about those projects’ substantial impacts,” said Malinda Clatterbuck, Co-founder of Lancaster Against Pipelines. “In one project after another, FERC releases an analysis that fails to include significant information only to have that information supplied by the company later in the process, or not at all. This stands the federally required public review process on its head and deprives affected landowners and concerned citizens of the opportunity to provide feedback during the public comment period.”

The groups also say that FERC failed to consider the impacts of induced gas drilling on state forest lands in Pennsylvania that will result if the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline is built. One gas producer, Seneca Resources, recently said it is planning to drill 13 shale gas wells on a lease in Loyalsock State Forest in preparation for the pipeline.

“Even though FERC knows that the pipeline will lead to more fracking on Pennsylvania’s state forests, it completely ignored these impacts in the DEIS,” said Bill Belitskus, Board President of the Allegheny Defense Project. “The public has a right to know how their state forest lands will be affected before FERC approves any more pipelines in this region.”

Both federal agencies and the conservation groups faulted FERC for failing to determine if there is even any actual public need for the project. In comments to FERC, EPA noted that FERC’s failure to determine the need for the project compromised the environmental analysis’s purpose of “informed decision making, using relevant information and public engagement in the process.”

EPA noted that it appeared likely that other alternatives with lesser environmental impacts could make the Atlantic Sunrise unnecessary and faulted FERC for failing to explore those alternatives in detail.

“It is simply unconscionable that FERC is pushing projects that would damage our land and water, take private property, and destroy out public recreational lands without even determining if they are truly necessary,” said Tom Au, Conservation Chair for the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club. This is a clear case of valuing corporate profits over the public welfare.”

The letter was signed by Allegheny Defense Project, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, Clean Air Council, Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, Friends of Nelson, Heartwood, Lancaster Against Pipelines, Lebanon Pipeline Awareness, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Shalefield Organizing Committee, Sierra Club, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, and Wild Virginia.


Jonathon Berman, Sierra Club: (202) 495-3033

Ryan Talbott, Allegheny Defense Project: (503) 329-9162

Barbara Arrindell, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability: (845) 252-6677

Malinda Clatterbuck, Lancaster Against Pipelines: (717) 284-4940





CHESAPEAKE COMMONS map the impacts of the proposed Atlantic Sunrise Project’s Central Penn North & South line



23 arrested outside Gov. McAuliffe's mansion during protest

Twenty-three people were arrested Wednesday for trespassing in front of the Executive Mansion following a peaceful, three-day protest urging Gov. Terry McAuliffe to reject a pair of proposed fracked-gas pipelines, require power companies to clean up or move coal ash ponds before closing them and pass measures to prevent rising sea levels.

“We’re fed up,” said Russell Chisholm, of Newport in Giles County. “We’re not professional activists. We’re real people who are being impacted by and care deeply about these issues. Enough that we’re willing to risk arrest to make our point.”
Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on October 6, 2016 by By ALI ROCKETT