Pitts’ Statement for Conestoga Township Pipeline Meeting
Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16) released a statement in anticipation of tonight’s pipeline meeting in Conestoga Township. Congressman Pitts wants constituents to be fully aware of how to make their voice heard during the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission pipeline application process.
“I have been working to clearly communicate constituent concerns about the pipeline to FERC and Williams since the moment it was announced,” said the Congressman. “As a member of the committee that has oversight over FERC, I have already directly let commissioners know that Lancastrians are concerned about the affect this pipeline may have on our treasured lands. I have also personally surveyed the proposed route with elected officials and community leaders. This is my top local priority right now.”
The Congressman’s letter to meeting attendees follows. An abbreviated copy will be read tonight.
Full Statement on the Proposed Pipeline
First, I’d like to thank Luke Bunting for his willingness to read this statement, and a list of things that I’ve done to date regarding the pipeline.
In a democracy, community meetings like the one tonight are very important. I would like to commend both the organizers and all those who came out tonight for your willingness to be a part of a community wide discussion on the proposed Williams’ pipeline. There are indeed many serious questions that need to be answered, legitimate concerns that need to be addressed at the individual landowner level, as well as on a more regional perspective.
As your Representative in Washington, I will stand with the people of Lancaster County to make sure that all of you have a strong voice and the maximum possible influence as this process unfolds. I am totally committed to protecting everything that makes Lancaster County one of the finest places in the United States to raise a family, enjoy life, and pursue a career.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is a powerful commission of five people who serve staggered five year terms. The current Commissioners were appointed by President Obama, and confirmed by the Senate. FERC’s rules are extremely important for all of you to understand because only within that process can anyone officially make their opinions and concerns known. FERC proceedings are considered quasi-judicial, meaning that strict ex parte rules apply. Any action taken outside the established process is considered ex parte; and therefore, ignored. There are three distinct phases in the process that gives all of you a number of opportunities to make your concerns known. The FERC website explains these opportunities in great detail.
It is important to note that the three phase administrative process does not include any potential legal action that can be taken by a person or group.
In my opinion, the action that would give you the maximum opportunities to be involved in the process would to become an “Intervenor.” How to become an Intervenor is explained in detail on the FERC website. Also, please feel free to call my Lancaster office if you have any questions regarding Intervenor status.
My primary job, and I take it very seriously, is to hold Williams’ Partners and FERC accountable, especially to the directly impacted land-owners in Lancaster County, and also to the greater community if the proposed pipeline negatively impacts anything that makes Lancaster County so incredibly special.
I serve on both the full committee, and sub-committee with direct jurisdiction over FERC. That gives me a unique opportunity to guarantee that FERC is both hearing your concerns, and is taking the necessary actions to address them. My staff is in frequent contact with FERC to answer questions and clarify issues.
In closing, I realize this is a very serious issue. For most, I’m sure your home and/or farm are the single most important assets you possess. These also have significant emotional value because it is where you raised your children, and now is where your grand-children play. You have concerns about insurance, loss of value, safety, compensation, eminent domain, and the proper restoration of your property. For others, the concerns focus on how the pipeline will impact the bucolic nature and environment of southern Lancaster County. One of my most important responsibilities as your congressman is to help you, answer questions, and to be your strongest advocate as this process moves forward. All you have to do is ask.
Member of Congress