How the hummingbird achieves its aerobatic feats

Although hummingbirds are much larger and stir up the air more violently as they move, the way that they fly is more closely related to flying insects than it is to other birds. Now, the most detailed, three-dimensional aerodynamic simulation of hummingbird flight conducted to date has definitively demonstrated that the hummingbird achieves its nimble aerobatic abilities through a unique set of aerodynamic forces that are more closely aligned to those found in flying insects than to other birds.

from Top Environment News — ScienceDaily

California Rainfall Is Nothing To Get Too Excited About

An unusual thing happened across California this week — it rained.

But while heavy downpours pounded across the San Francisco Bay Area and brought about an inch of rain on Thursday, water and climate experts warned that the wet week doesn’t promise much relief as the state endures its fourth year of drought.

“The recent rains are nice, but so far are not much,” UC Davis professor and Center for Watershed Sciences Director Jay Lund told The Huffington Post. “We are now at 62 percent of normal precipitation for this early time in the wet season. Better than last year, but only 62 percent of average.”

Mark Svoboda, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center, agreed, describing the downpours as having “not much of an effect at all” and suggesting that average rainfall isn’t going to cut it this deep into the drought.

“This winter will need to be much above the norm to make any headway against the drought,” he told HuffPost. “They are running a good year or more behind in water, from a supply perspective. A good start to putting a major dent in this drought … would require at least 150 percent of average over the entire winter, and preferably a lot of it as snow.”

Currently more than half of California is in a state of “exceptional drought,” the most severe level of dryness as measured by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Forecasters predicted a 73 percent chance that the state will experience at least the average rainfall, but only December, January and February — when storms typically arrive — will tell.

from Green – The Huffington Post

The Green Industrial Revolution: Here Now

Co-authored with Grant Cooke

The First Industrial Revolution that arose in England in the late 18th century was a turning point in human history. Until then, draft animals had been the major economic power source. Then James Watt, an English mechanical engineer, changed everything when he redesigned and improved the steam engine. Watt’s creative insight, allowed Great Britain to led the revolution in machine-based manufacturing.

The Second Industrial Revolution started in the U.S. around the end of the 19th century. America developed the beginnings of a domestic oil industry and coupled that volatile fuel with the tremendous power of the internal combustion engine. Together they powered a previously unimaginable world of machines and personal transportation. Thomas Edison with his electricity and then Alexander Graham Bell with the telephone revolutionized the daily lives of ordinary people and led to telecommunication centers, huge data server farms and complex electrical networks, all of which required vast amounts of energy.

Since the First Industrial Revolution, the planet has been getting hotter and smokier, and more crowded, creating severe environmental consequences. Each day, precious resources get scarcer. Today there are 7 billion people living on the planet, and by 2053, the UN predicts that there will be 10 billion people. Compounding the problems is the rise of a middle class in developing nations. People in emerging nations want to get out of poverty. They want the things that developed nations have–nice clothes, nutritious food (including animal protein for their children), and large, air-conditioned, electrified homes as well as education and a future for themselves and their children. They also want the things that most citizens of developed nations take for granted: washing machines, cell phones, refrigerators, televisions, and cars.

Add it up, and the world will soon be resource-constricted, particularly since the planet is running out of fossil fuels. We are reaching a tipping point with our fragile planet, and how the world responds, or does not respond, to climate change will have an unprecedented impact on the course of human history. This is exactly what prompted the agreement between US President Obama and PRC (China) President XI in mid-November to “collaborate” and work together on reducing each countries carbon emissions.

With China’s emissions and pollution now making it the top nation (over-taking
the US) as the world leader in greenhouse gases (GHG), the impact on the health of every person in China, especially the nation’s Capital, Beijing, was both remarkable and costly in terms of human health and the environment. The rapid building there and around the country, over the last decade, moved China into recognizing the need to stop GHG as well as revising pollution. The cost in health, lives and the environment forced a difference in the PRC National Government which took office and then implemented plans with funds and financing in 2012.

The issue is that there is a cost to reducing GHG as it also means stopping the nation and local dependence on fossil fuels. For China that means moving off of its historical dependence on coal to other lower emission fossil fuels and even nuclear power. Unfortunately, that change in energy resources mean that China would need to get natural gas from Russia (a major problem for them for economic, security and infrastructure reasons such as pipelines) and also Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) sent by ships primarily from Australia. But fortunately, there is global evidence that a new era driven by sustainable green energy generation, innovative smart green technologies, and public sensitivity toward the environment has emerged. It started in Asia in the 1980s and then the Nordic Countries in the 1990s as well as then with Germany leading at the turn of the 21st Century.

We are calling this new industrial and hence economic era the Green Industrial Revolution, or GIR for short. The GIR has already proven to be viable, economic and successful in Japan, Korea and the Nordic countries where it has gone well beyond the First Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, the Second Industrial Revolution of the 20th century and what some call the Third Industrial Revolution at the turn of the 21st Century. The Green Industrial Revolution has replaced the carbon-generated and even nuclear power infrastructures with renewable energy, storage system technologies, and smart green on-site distributed grids.

Prompted by the Arab Oil Embargo of the 1970s, the Green Industrial Revolution started to emerge at the end of the 20th century. Initially proclaimed as occurring in northern Europe, it actually began in Japan and South Korea before it emerged in Europe.

As a small and densely populated island nation of 130 million people, Japan has a tradition for the need of energy, but with “no waste” that dates back to the Middle Ages. By the 1980s, Japan and South Korea were concerned with the need to become energy independent and secure. As a result, they developed national policies and programs to reduce their growing dependency on foreign fuels. By the beginning of the 21st century, China had leapfrogged the USA into this new era, driven by unprecedented economic growth and development, urbanization and infrastructure needs.

In northern Europe, the Green Industrial Revolution received a big push from Germany’s Energiewende and its feed-in-tariff (FiT) program. Germany became the number one producer and installer of solar panels for homes, offices, and large open areas from 2006-09. In 2010, Italy then took the FiT concept into its economic and culture so that it held the distinction of world leader in solar panel installation. China took the lead in 2011 and continues as the number one solar panel and photovoltaic manufacturer and installer. Japan is now leading in auto manufacturing, jumping ahead of the competition with its hybrids.

The Green Industrial Revolution, with its extraordinary new technologies and promise of thousands of new green jobs, is trying to come to America. It is hampered by the lack of a national energy policy, and a political process that is beholden to the fossil fuel industry. Big Oil and now Natural Gas, which calls itself “clean energy”, have been America’s “elephant-in-the room” for over a hundred years, exploiting the nation’s resources, pushing the country into a dependence on foreign oil producers who are politically destabilizing, and not aligned with our national interests.

The natural gas industry sees the rise and commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell cars from all the auto manufacturers around the world as its future. The industry anticipates being “selected” as the primarily source for hydrogen to refuel the thousands of hydrogen-powered cars predicted to be on the roads, starting with California and other areas of the US in 2015. A recent biding process in California awarded 20 out of 25 hydrogen refueling stations to one natural gas company. And Yes. There are ethical and conflict of interest issues in this process and the one company selected. These companies have “influenced” decisions made on the refueling stations as they know that these stations will need to be paid for over decades and make the consumers of all transportation systems dependent upon them: drilling, processing, pumping (pipelines and trains) as well as reforming into hydrogen energy for vehicles.

A new era of sustainability and carbonless energy generation is here now. The push , public policy, economics and technologies for renewable energy with a carbonless lifestyle will become history’s largest social and economic megatrend. The potential of extraordinary benefits in the form of economic revival, innovation, emerging technologies, and significant job growth for those nations capable of fast entry is here today. Developing nations know this. Developed ones, like the US are still trapped in the Second and Third Industrial Revolutions. Indeed, the world has changed.

from Green – The Huffington Post

Man Performs At-Home C-Section On Dog, Cut Puppies’ Ears With Scissors: Cops

A Florida man is facing multiple charges after police say he performed an at-home C-section on a dog and cut a puppy’s ears with scissors as a part of an illegal dog breeding operation.

Lazaro Ruiz, 26, was arrested at his residence in Homestead on Monday, months after police began getting reports of dog abuse, the Miami Herald reports. The investigation began in January, after disturbing videos started appearing on YouTube, according to Local 10.

In one video, Doberman puppies were fighting over raw meat in a bathtub.

Warning: Some viewers may find the following video disturbing.

A different home video depicted someone cutting four puppies out of a pit bull’s womb.

Authorities were led to Ruiz last week, after a woman told them she had purchased pit bull puppies from him and witnessed him injecting a mysterious drug into the leg of a female pit bull that was giving birth, the Miami Herald reports.

Police say they set up a fake puppy purchase at Ruiz’s home. When they apprehended Ruiz, he allegedly fought back, breaking an officer’s finger. Officers said that Ruiz’s tattoos matched those of the man seen performing the C-section in the video.

Three adult dogs and one puppy were rescued from the home. Parts of the puppy’s ears had been cut off using scissors.

“You can liken it to actually removing your own ear,” Jacquelyn Johnston, of animal rescue group No Paw Left Behind, told WSVN. “It’s going through cartilage. It’s going through a lot of blood vessels. There’s an extensive amount of bleeding.”

All four rescued dogs are in the care of Miami-Dade Animal Services and are expected to be put up for adoption.

Ruiz was charged with animal cruelty, unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine and unlicensed sale of animals. He is out of jail on bond.

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from Green – The Huffington Post

The HSUS Celebrates a 60-Year Quest to Stop Cruelty to All Animals

It was 60 years ago, on November 22, that four individuals founded The HSUS, with grand ambitions but only a few nickels in their pockets. At the time, there were just 500 or so local humane organizations scattered across 3,100 counties. Like islands, with scant connection and sense of unity, they lacked resources and, to a degree, a connection to a cause larger than their own operations. They were often disassociated from the larger dynamics driving animal homelessness and cruelty. It was within this context that our founders stepped up to provide effective national leadership and vision. The HSUS didn’t seek to duplicate the work of local groups, but helped them run better and to grow the humane movement as a whole.

Above all, Fred Myers and the other founders of The HSUS resolved to confront national cruelties beyond the reach of local societies, and to restore the broad scope of the early humane movement’s focus on a full array of animal cruelties. They crafted an ambitious motto: “Every field of humane work–Everywhere!” They somehow scraped together enough dollars to sustain an organization aligned with their vision and committed to helping all animals.

In the post-World War II era, their first campaigns helped pass a federal humane slaughter law and restrict the seizure of pets from shelters for use in animal experiments. They realized that we would not be able to rescue our way out of the problems — but needed to prevent cruelty by raising awareness, professionalizing our entire field of work, and driving sound public policies and corporate reforms.

If Myers and the others could see us today, I think they’d be very pleased that The HSUS, more than any other organization, has framed the debate about animal protection in society. They could never have anticipated the range and reach of our work in 2014. With nearly 1,000 staff members and consultants, and millions of volunteers and other supporters, we’re confronting the biggest forms of cruelty, no matter how maligned or disregarded the animal or how entrenched the abuse.

  • Three decades ago, just four U.S. states had felony penalties for malicious animal cruelty and only a dozen made dogfighting a felony–with a half dozen states actually allowing legal cockfighting. Today, malicious animal cruelty and dogfighting are felonies in all 50 states, and cockfighting is banned in all states. It’s a federal felony to engage in animal fighting or to sell videos depicting animal cruelty.
  • A decade ago, nearly all veal calves, pregnant pigs and egg-laying hens were confined in crates and cages so small that the animals could barely move. Since then, we’ve successfully campaigned to lead the veal industry to completely phase out veal crates (by 2017) and gained wide acceptance from leaders in the egg industry that they must abandon barren battery cages. We’ve also caused several big pork producers to phase out gestation crates, and more than 60 major food retailers–from McDonald’s to Costco to Safeway–to stop buying from factory farms that confine the animals so severely. Prop 2, our landmark 2008 ballot measure to give farm animals more space to live, is set to take effect on January 1st, 2015.
  • Just this year, with Humane Society International helping drive the reforms, the European Union and India – with nearly 1.7 billion consumers between them — forbid selling any cosmetics products tested on animals in-country or anywhere else in the world. The U.S. government is moving nearly all the chimpanzees it owns from laboratories to sanctuaries and has stopped funding research that involves dogs and cats acquired from “random source” dealers.
  • Only three nations in the world continue to conduct commercial whaling, while whale watching is now a multi-billion-dollar industry. We’ve reduced Canada’s seal slaughter by 75 percent, upholding an EU ban on imports of seal skins, and restricted the import of tuna that is not dolphin-safe, into the United States.
  • Today, 45 states restrict the keeping of dangerous wild animals as pets, and the federal government restricts importing and transporting a wide range of species, including several species of large, constricting snakes and big cats, for the pet trade. We have helped pass more humane breeding standards for dogs in 35 states, and, at the federal level, banned imports of dogs from foreign puppy mills, and finally achieved federal oversight of Internet sellers of dogs and cats. We’ve normalized the discussion of spay-and-neuter and adopting, and helped drive the reduction in euthanasia over the last 40 years from 15 million dogs and cats to three million today.

We are heartened by this progress but mindful of immense challenges ahead. Here’s what we see in the years to come:

  • Ending euthanasia of healthy and treatable pets in the United States and protecting street dogs globally: In the United States, by expanding our Pets for Life mentorship programs, we’ll be helping communities where there are an estimated 23 million pets living in poverty and where their caretakers do not have access to spay/neuter and other critical wellness services. HSI will expand its sterilization and vaccination programs, focusing on Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Panama, the Philippines and Puerto Rico, which together have an estimated 25 million street dogs.
  • Reducing suffering for billions of animals on factory farms: We will continue to take this issue head on–seeking the elimination of extreme confinement and promoting the substitution of more humane practices, conducted principally by family farmers. Because we believe it not a practical goal to raise nine billion animals humanely and sustainably, we’ll encourage consumers to reduce their meat consumption, just a bit, starting in the United States. Making better food choices–say, by skipping meat one day a week–will yield enormous results for human health, the global environment and animal welfare.
  • Securing animal cruelty laws throughout the world: Today, approximately half the nations around the globe have some form of anti-cruelty legislation. We will seek to convince at least 20 additional countries to adopt statutes in the next 10 years, with the ultimate goal of building a comprehensive, global legal framework against cruelty, as we’ve done across the United States.
  • Curbing wildlife cruelty and ushering in a new era of humane wildlife management: We will target the worst abuses of wildlife and urge a more enlightened paradigm of wildlife management, characterized by use of non-lethal methods to control wildlife conflicts, a more active use of fertility control and other technologies to manage wildlife populations humanely, and the promotion of non-consumptive wildlife tourism. We’ll push states to ban the use of highly toxic lead ammunition by sport hunters, outlaw the possession of dangerous wild animals as pets and at roadside zoos, and halt the reckless killing of marine mammals and terrestrial predators, especially by inhumane means.
  • Replacing animal testing and research with 21st century science: The HSUS and HSI will drive progress toward replacing animal testing with transformative research and technologies, adding Brazil, China, Russia and the United States to the community of nations that forbid cosmetics testing on animals. We’ll also work with the leaders of the world’s top scientific nations–in the European Union, United States, Canada and Japan–to fully replace animal tests with a new conceptual framework and advanced, human-biology-based technologies, with the goal of substantially ending toxicity testing on animals by 2025.

And, of course, we’ll continue fighting to stop the slaughter and soring of American horses, end the killing of dogs for their meat in Southeast Asia, restrict the private ownership of wild animals, stop the trade in ivory and rhino horn, end shark finning, rescue animals in need, and do so much more.

More than anything, animals need a powerful, strategic organization that can provide immediate relief and rescue, as well as shape opinion and drive corporate and public policies. That’s what you have in The HSUS. But as we take our movement to the next level of success, we need your active support and participation more than ever. Let’s look back with pride on the past 60 years and celebrate this milestone in our history. But let’s also unite to drive even more meaningful reform in the months and years ahead.


P.S. A humane future also begins with you. Have a look at our vision for what lies ahead, and tell us yours as well.

This article first appeared on Wayne Pacelle’s blog, A Humane Nation.

from Green – The Huffington Post

Your Cat May Be Trying To Kill You. Here Are 8 Ways.

So, we know cats are cute. We also know they can throw some serious shade. But they may also be plotting to end your life.

And these two felines — black cat Shorty and black and white Kodi — are here to demonstrate eight ways this is a real thing.

“My friends, the kittens are rising, the apawcalypse is coming,” writes uploader Sho Ko. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

We’ll consider ourselves warned. But also, look at this face! Definitely able to kill us with cuteness.

cat kill you

H/T Tastefully Offensive

from Green – The Huffington Post

Doggy Day Care In Hawaii Accused Of Covering Up Dog’s Gruesome Death

A Hawaii couple is suing an animal hospital and the owners of a doggy daycare, alleging they covered up the real cause of their dog’s death.

In June, Les and Laura Sherrill left Jojo, their 7-year-old Chihuahua, at It’s Dogplay, a doggy day care facility in the Oahu town of Kailua. According to the lawsuit filed Monday in Hawaii’s First Circuit Court, business owners Mirko and Mia Manfredi told the Sherrills that Jojo had been found unconscious and that no one had seen or heard anything. Mirko suggested “the dog must have passed from natural causes,” the document, obtained by The Huffington Post, notes.

The Sherrills called the veterinarian at the VCA Kaneohe Animal Hospital who had examined Jojo’s body, but she, too, allegedly said it had been a natural death, reiterating there was “no evidence of physical injury.”

The couple then had their regular veterinarian, Dr. Kirk Ayling, retrieve the dog’s body from the animal hospital to examine it, the lawsuit states. The document notes Jojo had bite marks on his body. In an interview with Hawaii News Now, Ayling said he observed several puncture wounds and other injuries and determined that Jojo’s cause of death was a crushing wound to the animal’s chest.

The lawsuit notes Lisa Ponter, a former It’s Dogplay employee who lived above the daycare at the time, ran into the garage where the dogs are usually kept after hearing a commotion the morning of the incident.

Ponter told HuffPost that another employee was opening the daycare alone and had improperly released both big and small dogs in the same area. (The lawsuit notes that, typically, employees keep big dogs separated from the small dogs and two employees should be present when releasing the dogs.)

When Ponter saw Jojo convulsing and gasping for air on the floor, she said the other employee told her a large black labrador had picked up the 4-pound Chihuahua, shook him violently a few times and dropped him. Ponter said when the Manfredis found out, they “told us not to talk to anybody” and that “they had the vet say that he died of natural causes.”

A few employees quit immediately after the incident, the lawsuit notes, but Ponter said she stayed with the company until she and her husband could find another place to live. Ponter has since filed a complaint against It’s Dogplay after sustaining an injury while trying to separate two fighting dogs a few weeks after Jojo’s death.

The Sherrills are suing both the Manfredis and the Kaneohe animal hospital for $50,000 in damages. Mia Manfredi, co-owner of the dog daycare, told HuffPost she could not comment because of the pending lawsuit but said that “the truth will come out again.” The veterinarian accused of lying was not immediately available for comment when contacted by HuffPost; but the Sherrills’ attorney told Hawaii News Now the VCA Kaneohe Animal Hospital offered $300 to settle the case.

On Tuesday, about a dozen protestors held signs outside It’s Dogplay in order to dissuade current customers from dropping their dogs off that morning, according to Hawaii News Now. The Sherrills attended the demonstration, along with other former customers who say their animals were mistreated and injured while in the care of It’s Dogplay.

from Green – The Huffington Post

Controversial Marcellus Shale Gas Pipeline Threatens Delaware River Basin and Rural Communities in the Northeast

by Joy E. Stocke & Kim Nagy

The Delaware is the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi, flowing for 330 miles as it travels from New York State, through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Delaware River Keeper Network

Delaware River

“Have you heard about the pipeline?”

From the Marcellus Shale in the Appalachian basin in Pennsylvania, where the fracked gas boom is in full force, to Trenton, New Jersey, just south of Washington’s Crossing–where, on December 25, 1776, General George Washington and his troops made their famous crossing and launched the Battle of Trenton–the question moved from neighbor to neighbor in the communities along the pristine upper reaches of the Delaware River, one of the healthiest watersheds in the United States.

Rumor became fact on August 12 when a consortium of companies including utility giants UGI, AGL Resources, and NJR Pipeline Company, calling themselves PennEastPipeline Co., LLC, announced that they are seeking Federal approval to launch a one-billion-dollar project to build a three-foot (36 inch) diameter pipeline with easements of one hundred feet across (equal to a third of a city block) to run from the Marcellus Shale through wetlands, farmland, and preserved open space with a projected start date of January, 2017.

Says the Marcellus Drilling News website, “It didn’t hurt that the consortium had already reserved nearly half of the billion-cubic-feet-per-day capacity for themselves!”

PennEast began putting together their plans to create a consortium to transport Marcellus Shale gas in 2011, shortly after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie unveiled the state’s Master Energy Plan with a goal of bringing more sources of natural gas to New Jersey.

“The PennEast Consortium is building an empire on land that was preserved with Pennsylvania and New Jersey taxpayer dollars for the health and wellbeing of our children and for use by all citizens,” says Alix Bacon, manager of the Western Piedmont Region for the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.


Natural Gas Pipeline Construction

On November 4, 2014, New Jersey voters approved Public Question #2, which proposed changing the constitution of New Jersey so that a percentage of the corporate business tax be permanently allocated to fund open space, farmland and historic preservation programs.

“By targeting preserved lands,” adds Bacon, “the proposed PennEast pipeline subverts the will of New Jersey voters and flies in the face of New Jersey’s 50-year-old preservation policies and programs.”

According to PennEast, the pipeline will stretch 108 miles, 87 percent of which will be within the boundaries of the Delaware River watershed, with a plan to transport roughly a billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to residents in Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. With new partner, Spectra Energy, owner of the General Partnership of DCP Midstream Partners, LP, the PennEast consortium will have the opportunity to access Cove Point, a terminus on the Atlantic ocean in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, where gas could be exported to markets outside the U.S. The PennEast project also includes siting and construction of multiple high-powered compressor stations at intervals along the line.


Proposed PennEast Pipeline Route

PennEast has claimed at meetings in local communities that their intention is to provide much-needed gas to customers in South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, and not for export. But partner Spectra plans to send natural gas to export facilities, according to Williams Partners, part of the Spectra Consortium. In Williams’s 2014 first quarter report, CEO Alan Armstrong says, “We’re excited about the accelerating pace of expansion projects at Transco, (and) will serve as important infrastructure for future LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) export facilities at Cove Point…”

While there are residents who support the pipeline in the six counties bracketing the Delaware river along the proposed route, the overwhelming majority, including elected officials on both sides of the river, has registered concerns. Laywers, teachers, legislators, business owners, farmers and long-term residents have turned out en masse at scheduled meetings with PennEast representatives and put forth letters and resolutions rejecting the pipeline’s construction, claiming that given the ecological risks, the pipeline is redundant in furthering the Northeast’s larger energy plan.

In multiple meetings with PennEast officials and communities, residents and businesses (who will not benefit from the fracked gas), have asked, “If the pipeline must be built, instead of disturbing one of the few remaining rural stretches of land in the region, why not co-locate it along existing easements?”

A Farmer’s Story


Three generations of the Fulper Famly in Front of their farmhouse

Robert Fulper II, a fourth-generation dairy farmer and owner of Fulper Family Farms, established in 1909 in West Amwell, New Jersey, is one of the landowners whose property lies in the path of the pipeline.

“In the 1940s and 50s, one of the gas companies, Texas Eastern, I believe, put a pipeline through a farm I rent through the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC),” recalls Fulper, “and I definitely see extensive damage. The pipeline generates enough heat to change the temperature of the ground. When we have a hot, dry summer, those areas get severely damaged. And when I look at one of my yield maps, in that field of 10 acres, 2.3 acres show losses–more than 20% of the field–yield drop can be as much as 30 or 40 bushels of corn. The problem is,” adds Fulper, “that companies like PennEast might show concern in the beginning stages of the project, but over the years, a land owner or farmer has no right and the companies can just come in anytime and do repairs on the pipeline, causing damage to crops and ruining the soil.”

Last year, without notifying Fulper, an emergency repair was made on the line that already runs through the SADC property Fulper rents. “They tore the ground up and didn’t put the topsoil back. They dug up my crops and left the crops a mess, left rocks on top,” he says. “The crop yield was zero. I called the SADC first. They didn’t know anything about it. It took days to find out what happened. Finally, I got a little reimbursement, but not enough to cover the damage.”

On October 17, after a series of meetings with townships along the pipeline route, fourteen of which called for resolutions opposing the pipeline, PennEast announced that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) had approved its request to initiate the pre-filing review process. According to the PennEast website: “The pre-filing process includes a formal structure for interested parties along the proposed route to provide input regarding the proposed PennEast Pipeline. It also creates the framework for the environmental analysis required of the location, design and permitting of the proposed natural gas pipeline. PennEast chose the comprehensive, multi-step pre-filing approach as a way to ensure greater stakeholder (meaning affected landowners along the route) involvement early in the project’s development and to work cooperatively with the FERC staff on stakeholder outreach, as well as the technical, engineering and environmental aspects of the project before a formal application is submitted. PennEast plans to complete pre-filing and file a formal application in third quarter 2015.”

“Interstate natural gas pipelines are subject to stringent review and FERC oversight,” said Peter Terranova, chairman of the PennEast board of managers. “PennEast requested to use the pre-filing process because it provides an ideal framework for obtaining early input from potentially affected landowners and other stakeholders. Their input helps identify areas of concern that we can try to address from the start through the design of the project.”

According to Eastern Environmental Law Center staff attorney, Alice Baker, pipeline proposals must comply with the Natural Gas Act, passed in 1938, and divides control over the natural gas industry between the federal government and the states. Under the Natural Gas Act, FERC has the authority to regulate the transportation of natural gas in interstate commerce, the sale in interstate commerce of natural gas, and natural gas companies engaged in such transport.

In order for a company to construct new natural gas facilities, FERC must issue a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. FERC considers whether the applicant has made efforts to eliminate or minimize any adverse effects the project might have on existing pipelines in the market and their captive customers, and landowners and communities affected by the route of the new pipeline.

“However,” says Carolyn Elefant, whose law firm focuses on FERC practice and policy, “FERC does not have jurisdiction over siting local gas pipelines used purely in intrastate commerce. Nor does FERC have jurisdiction over facilities used for production or gathering of natural gas, such as a 30-mile gathering pipeline system which would gather Marcellus Shale natural gas from wells for transport to interconnections with interstate pipelines and storage facilities.”

“This,” says Alice Baker, “is essentially an economic test. Only where the benefits outweigh the adverse effects on economic interests will FERC proceed to complete the environmental analysis required.” Baker also warned that the PennEast consortium would have the right to exercise eminent domain and claim land along the path, should FERC approve the project.

“I thought that when I put my land into farmland preservation, I was protecting it,” says Robert Fulper. “I gave up the ability to develop it and build houses. What really bothers me is that the State of New Jersey has a law that says eminent domain cannot be used on farmland. But since the pipeline is coming from Pennsylvania, PennEast is able to use federal law.”

Maya van Rossum, head of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, a non-profit organization that monitors the health of the Delaware River and its tributaries, says, “When a pipeline cuts through a community, literally nothing — wetlands, woodlands, farms — stands in its way. PennEast says it will restore the land to what it was before the pipeline was put in. Not only won’t they, they can’t.”

State Representatives Join Across Party Lines to Oppose Pipeline

New Jersey State Representative Leonard Lance

New Jersey State Representative Rush Holt

New Jersey representatives have crossed party lines to join the protest. On October 9, Republican senator Leonard Lance of Hunterdon County issued a press release:

My constituents are right to be concerned about the current PennEast pipeline project. After careful consideration and review, I have significant questions about the project’s current path and expected use of lands under farmland preservation protection and within the Delaware River Watershed.

As someone who has lived here my entire life, I fully understand how important open space and farmland preservation are to the residents of Hunterdon County and surrounding communities. I have sponsored legislation in the Legislature to protect and preserve these open spaces.

It is my hope that PennEast Pipeline company representatives will reexamine the project’s proposed path and work with New Jersey’s two U.S. Senators, the congressional delegation, state and local elected officials as well as concerned citizens in presenting a new plan that protects property rights and preserves public and private lands.”

A week later, on October 16, Democratic congressman Rush Holt sent a letter to Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary of the Federal Energy Commission, requesting

“a full review and comprehensive assessment of the potential impacts and need for this project. It is absolutely essential that the review of this project takes into account the input of all concerned citizens and affected communities…Considering that this will be a new pipeline spanning approximately 108 miles and crossing multiple states and water bodies, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should be required as part of the review of this project…The EIS should consider an analysis of project alternatives, including a “no action” alternative.”

“We need to address how we as a country are going to ensure affordable heat and electricity for all,” says Carina Sayles, who chose to preserve 213 acres of her 220 acre Hunterdon County family farm through the state agricultural program, with taxpayer dollars from the state, county and her township. “But as a third-generation farm owner whose preserved land is threatened by the pipeline, I was turned down when I wanted to put solar panels in my field because the state said it would be an eyesore. It makes no sense. Instead, a consortium of companies will come, rip up my land, lay down pipes and create an easement where in the future they can rip the land up again and lay down more pipes.”

Delaware River Basin Commission Requests a Full Review from PennEast

On November 17, residents along the pipeline route received good news. After responding to multiple requests by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, supported by hundreds of letters from individuals, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), tasked by the federal government with protecting states that border the river, determined that the PennEast Pipeline Project would be subject to DRBC jurisdiction and will need to obtain a docket before it can proceed with its plans.

DRBC Executive Steve Tambini wrote: “…based upon our internal review of recent submittals by the project sponsors to the DRBC and other agencies, we have advised the sponsors that the project is subject to review…The PennEast project sponsors have been requested to submit an application to the DRBC and to request a pre-application meeting.”

According to the DRBC, the PennEast Pipeline “triggered” a project review after raising concerns in three areas: water withdrawal, discharge of testing water, sending pipelines in, on, under or across an existing or proposed recreational area or reservoir” designated in the agency’s comprehensive plan.

As for Robert Fulper, fresh off a seven-day-a-week harvest work jag on their newly solar-powered farm, the plan is to continue to tend their herd of dairy cows, and sell milk and cheese.

“I treat my land like I treat my kids. I’m an environmentalist, but I’m a realist, too. I know it’s a balancing act. I’m concerned for farmers throughout the state, who supply all kinds of crops for our food supply. And I have concerns about energy for the future of our country and that we pursue using more renewable energy whenever possible.”

Along the Delaware River Basin, residents, like Fulper, are waiting to see what happens next.
Delaware River at Pralls Mill, New Jersey

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