October 6, 2016 – Over 55 people crowded into the Orange Township municipal building Thursday night for the Township Supervisor’s Meeting. Last month, residents presented a list of questions for the Supervisors regarding the proposed compressor station to be built in the township as part of William’s planned Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. The supervisors declined to extensively comment, asking that residents attend their October meeting when the township solicitor, Barry Lewis, would be present to answer questions.
The three supervisors, Calvin Fox, Steven Hoffman, and John Long, adjusted the agenda and allowed their solicitor to discuss the proposed Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline and compressor station at the beginning of the meeting. M. Lewis began by acknowledging he understood the crowd wanted to know “everything there is to know about a compressor station..unfortunately I think a lot of you will walk out of here disappointed tonight, because I will tell you what I know, and what I don’t know, and why I don’t know.”
Mr. Lewis continued with an overview of the compressor station and pipeline, reviewing the over two year process of Williams’ changing the pipeline route and compressor location. Many in the audience wanted to know why they had not heard anything of this project until now, two years later. Mr. Lewis replied by listing a number of meetings held by Williams, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the agency responsible for permitting the project.
However, these meetings have always been targeted to those directly impacted by the project – landowners from whom the company wants to purchase land for the pipeline path. Residents who live near the proposed route or near the proposed compressor station were never directly notified by Williams, the FERC, or local government.
Mr. Lewis repeated that because the project was permitted by FERC, all local zoning and rules would be superseded by this federal agency, and there was nothing the supervisors were able to do. When asked if the compressor station would violate the townships noise ordinance, neither Mr. Lewis or the zoning officer knew the answer.
Many who attended last night’s meeting wanted to know what the township supervisors could do to stop this project- refusing to believe that the FERC leaves them with no options. There are several ways the supervisors could acknowledge the legitimate concerns about the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline.
- First, there are various permits that must be approved by the PA DEP for this project which the FERC has no involvement in. The supervisors can help residents demand public hearings for each of these permits when they come up.
- Second, they can write a letter to the FERC stating the concerns of Orange Township residents about the safety and health risks of the compressors and pipeline, which they agreed to do at this meeting.
- Third, they can determine what, if any, local zoning, ordinances, or other laws apply in the permitting and construction of this project.
Thank you to everyone who came out to the meeting to show your concern!
Please stay tuned for updates and more information.
Sierra Shamer for Shalefield Organizing Committee.