Business Community Government

L. Saucon Wants FERC to Take ‘Hard Look’ at Pipeline Proposal

Est. Read Time: 3 mins

Lower Saucon Township Council members voted unanimously Wednesday to have environmental attorney Charles Elliott submit comments regarding the proposed PennEast natural gas pipeline on the township’s behalf to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which will ultimately decide whether the line can be built.

FERC is currently conducting “scoping,” which is part of the review process for natural gas pipelines such as the one proposed by PennEast in eastern Pennsylvania.

Part of the pipeline’s proposed route passes through Lower Saucon Township, which last month became one of several Pennsylvania municipalities to adopt resolutions opposing the project.

Elliott and township councilwoman Priscilla deLeon both attended a FERC scoping meeting that was held in Bethlehem Township earlier this month, where Elliott delivered prepared remarks deLeon said had to be truncated because of an imposed time limit of just three minutes per speaker.

They went to the meeting with the understanding that each speaker would have five minutes to address the panel, and deLeon called the reduction in the time allotment “rude.”

“You couldn’t even give up your three minutes (to someone else),” she said. “The whole process is not good.”

Elliott said in his opinion the scoping process itself is premature at this point, since PennEast continues to make changes to the proposed pipeline route.

The township’s position is that scoping should stop now and resume once PennEast knows “more or less” where the pipeline would be built, he said.

Beyond that, he said “there’s some question about whether the need (for the pipeline) is illusory—whether’s it’s sort of artificially being constructed.”

That’s why Lower Saucon Township is “asking FERC to take a hard look at the actual need for the project,” he added.

Elliott cited a claim by PennEast that the pipeline will deliver enough natural gas to heat 4.8 million homes, which he called “dubious” in light of the fact that the pipeline is ostensibly for regional, domestic use, and there aren’t that many homes in the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey is expected to be the primary beneficiary of the natural gas supplied by the pipeline, although PennEast has proposed a two-mile arterial line called the “Hellertown lateral” that would deliver gas to industries in eastern Lower Saucon Township and Bethlehem.

Township council members and residents have questioned the need for that line as well.

“It’s like a moving target. It changes daily,” said deLeon of the pipeline project. “You just can’t keep up with it.”

Meanwhile, local radio airwaves are being flooded by commercials touting the potential economic benefits of the pipeline, according to resident and pipeline opponent Kathy Pichel-McGovern.

Pichel-McGovern–whose large farm would be bisected by the pipeline–complained that the ads tout job creation, among other things, but contain “a lot of erroneous information.”

“It’s just being played over and over and over again,” she said. “They’re not representing accurately their company.”

A map of the proposed route for the PennEast natural gas pipeline in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

A map of the proposed route for the PennEast natural gas pipeline in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.


Subscribe to receive our newsletter in your inbox every Monday, Wednesday & Friday.

Please wait...

Thank you for subscribing!

About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

Leave a Comment