Posted on September 30, 2010 in Concerns, Environment, Finance, Government by Matthew SekolNo Comments »

In 2009, PSE&G published a paper refuting the federal government’s need for a transmission superhighway.  Either they have lost their minds or they truly don’t believe this paper is relevant to the Susquehanna-Roseland Transmission Line, which again, was outlined as part of a larger transmission superhighway outlined in 2005 by the PJM.
You can read this glorious self-defeating paper here and judge for yourself it’s relevance.  
I can’t even sum this up – it’s basically a lot of what we’ve been saying for the past few years now.  Truly mind boggling.  Stay with it, the insanity truly begins on Page 4!

Posted on August 11, 2010 in Concerns, Government, PPL by Matthew SekolNo Comments »

The National Park Service has, rightfully so, set the record straight regarding PPL’s misleading campaign.  Make no mistake, it is not the National Park Service that is bringing Route C back to light, it is PPL.  They are putting us in the awkward position of having to either fight the National Park Service just so they can get their way, or face future threat by them along Route C.

Here is the official release from the National Park Service.:

National Park Service Delaware Water Gap NRA &
Appalachian National Scenic Trail News Release &

Release date: Tuesday, August 10, 2010
National Park Service Debunks Myths on Susquehanna to Roseland Environmental Impact Statement

BUSHKILL, PA – Superintendents John J. Donahue and Pamela Underhill of the National Park Service (NPS) announce the following clarifications regarding the NPS Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Susquehanna to Roseland Transmission Line Project.  It is critically important that the record is set straight on this important issue. Myths and misinformation regarding the NPS environmental analysis of the Susquehanna to Roseland Transmission Line Proposal are very damaging to the public’s ability to analyze the factual information being presented in this extremely important process. The recent public relations barrage about this project, whether misinformed or disingenuous, has left the public at a severe disadvantage by distorting the facts involved. The following information clarifies the facts about the EIS and the upcoming alternatives workshops.
NPS has neither selected a route, nor directed the utilities (PPL and PSE&G) on which route to build. The NPS is not in the transmission line building business; line construction is the province of the power companies. However, the NPS clearly has the appropriate experience to analyze and determine the potential environmental impacts of any proposal to cross lands and waters of the United States administered by the National Park Service. No possible route can avoid the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, since it runs from Maine to Georgia. The alternatives describe the locations where NPS properties could be crossed, but it remains the responsibility of the power companies to determine where they will site their lines outside of Federal jurisdiction.

The NPS decision will not be reached until 2012, after the first comprehensive environmental review of this proposal ever conducted is complete, including the analysis of impacts to the human and natural environment and incorporating full public participation. No thorough analysis of this proposed project, including the No Action alternative has been conducted to date.

Since all proposed alternatives would cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, thus requiring a permit, the NPS is required by law to analyze routes outside of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Trying to place responsibility for their threatened use of their own Route C on the National Park Service by mailing letters to residents, along a route that has already been dismissed by NPS, can only serve to diminish the public trust in this important process.

PPL targeted its Route C as a future-use right-of-way (ROW) in their official comments submitted to NPS during the February 2010 scoping period. PPL already owns a majority of the rights along this route, according to their application to the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The construction of their present preferred alternative does not preclude construction of the future-use ROW, Route C.

All NPS alternatives were developed using existing ROWs. The proposal by the utilities (Alternative 2) is not the only route sited on existing transmission ROW, as the public has been led to believe. In fact, the proposal by the utilities to the NPS includes a request for the addition of a new permanent, as well as temporary, construction ROW from the NPS.

 Some of the alternatives are significantly shorter in length and could potentially save money for rate payers. For example, Alternative 5 (along Interstate-80) is not proposed to be in the highway corridor, but simply to shadow it, significantly reducing the distance between endpoints.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval for rate increases, allowing for the spread of project construction costs, was received long before the utilities approached the public and NPS about their proposal. NPS did not receive a complete application until March 2009. The duration of the projected schedule for the EIS is well within the normal range for a project of this size and scope and is in fact being completed expeditiously.

The NPS construction and ROW permits are not the only requirements for building this project. The utilities have not received all of the required permits or approvals from the governmental organizations in New Jersey or Pennsylvania or from any Federal agencies, except for the conditional approvals from Pennsylvania PUC and the NJ Board of Public Utilities.

PSE&G recently announced a delay of three years before any construction will begin, thus making the in-service date of June 2012 irrelevant. According to PJM Interconnection, they are currently working with the utilities to develop a new plan that will upgrade existing generators to ensure the delivery and distribution of any needed energy and to meet energy demands.

Similar to the Tocks Island Dam project, a hurried environmental review would only prevent public involvement from taking place, potentially derailing a proposal refined by public input. Repeated environmental disasters have demonstrated the importance of thorough planning and impact analysis before projects are approved.

The National Park Service does not build transmission lines, but is entrusted with the protection of the scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources of these parks now and for future generations. A timely decision will be issued by the NPS once the public has had a reasonable opportunity to review and participate in the process based on a scientific analysis of the impacts to the natural and human environments.

Experience Your America
The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

Posted on August 4, 2010 in Community, Concerns, Government by Matthew SekolNo Comments »
A number of you have reported getting letters from PPL today about the latest action from the National Park Service.  Instead of finding ways to stop the line or move it around the park, the National Park Service is choosing to infuriate the public by creating 7 new options.  2 of these options go through our area (including the old Route C)!
We all need to spring to action once again to fight for our rural community, our families and our property.  Last time, we only had 23 people who submitted comments – we have to do better!
I strongly encourage all members to comment when it opens on August 9th.  I will send a reminder then or when information becomes available on how to comment.  For planning purposes, here is the information you need for upcoming hearings.
National Park Service public meetings will be held at three locations. In each location, an Open House will be held from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and a Public Hearing will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
• Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010 – Fernwood Hotel and Resort, Bushkill, Pa.
• Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010 – Stroudsmoor Country Inn, Stroudsburg, Pa.
• Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010 – Farmstead Golf and Country Club,
   Lafayette, N.J.
You can find out more information by visiting:
Here are the proposed routes:
Posted on March 5, 2010 in Government by Matthew SekolNo Comments »

Everyone has an extra week to make a comment!

Don’t sit back and believe someone else is will comment – we need EVERYONE to comment on how this line is not needed at all and we do not want it in our area!

Posted on March 4, 2010 in Community, Government by Matthew Sekol2 Comments »

Steps to Take:
Read the Scoping Newsletter
Click to Make a Comment on the scoping letter at the top of the page.
On the form, you may also identify yourself as a Member of Drop the Lines. 
Comments can only be made through March 5, 2010.
Recommended Talking Points
– The National Parks Service does not care about private property or the actual need of the line, only the public land in the park! 
– While no power line would be the most preferable, that National Park Service will not perform a full investigation of the line itself. 
– Under the NIETC act, the government can take your land for this power line, but they CANNOT take State or Federal lands using eminent domain
– If a full investigation is not possible, we believe issuing the permit for Route B is the best course.

Posted on February 28, 2010 in Community, Government, PPL by Matthew Sekol1 Comment »

Our own Robert LeBus and yours truly were in an article this morning in the Morning Call about Route B.  I think Robert really captured the spirit of what we’re trying to preserve here.  You can read the article here:,0,1124414.story
On another note, the article states that the National Parks Service only has 150 comments submitted via their website.  Since our mailing list has over 300 addresses and I know other groups are submitting comments against the line going through the park, we really need to step up and take action!  Don’t assume others are taking the responsibility!
This is a reminder to TAKE ACTION!
Steps to Take:
Read the Scoping Newsletter
Click to Make a Comment on the scoping letter at the top of the page.
On the form, you may also identify yourself as a Member of Drop the Lines. 
Comments can only be made through March 5, 2010.
Recommended Talking Points
– The National Parks Service does not care about private property or the actual need of the line, only the public land in the park! 
– While no power line would be the most preferable, that National Park Service will not perform a full investigation of the line itself. 
– Under the NIETC act, the government can take your land for this power line, but they CANNOT take State or Federal lands using eminent domain
– If a full investigation is not possible, we believe issuing the permit for Route B is the best course.
As I’m reading John Donahue’s comments this morning – a thought occurs.  If this power line is in the best interest of the public, then why not let the full public take the brunt of the route by placing it through the park?

Posted on February 24, 2010 in Government by Matthew SekolNo Comments »

Based on the National Parks Service meeting, it is clear that we need to take action if we are going to protect Lehigh and Moore township.
Please contact Arlen Specter and Charlie Dent to express your opinions regarding the National Parks Service Environmental Impact Statement and the permit.  Use the same talking points you used in the National Park Service comment.
We’re looking for a recurring telephone and email campaign where we follow up for answers.  The campaign would start February 26th, with a follow up call on March 3rd.
Remind them that the National Parks Service closes for comments on March 5th, so time is critical.  
Arlen Specter – US Senator
711 Hart Building
Washington , DC 20510
Main: 202-224-4254
Lehigh Valley Office
504 W. Hamilton
Suite 3814, Federal Building
Allentown, PA 18101
Main: 610-434-1444
Fax: 610-434-1844
Charlie Dent – US Congressman
DC Office
1009 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
phone: 202-225-6411
fax: 202-226-0778
Lehigh Valley Office
701 West Broad Street
Suite 200
Bethlehem, PA 18018
phone: 610-861-9734 toll-free: 866-861-2624
fax: 610-861-9308

Posted on February 17, 2010 in Concerns, Government by Matthew Sekol1 Comment »

Here is my submission for the National Parks Service.

While I believe the National Parks Service (NPS) is correct in requiring PPL and PSE&G to perform their due diligence in the form of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), I also believe that additional steps should be taken.  If the National Park Service is willing to consider several options outside its jurisdiction, including the original proposals of Route A and C, I believe that the NPS should do a complete valuation, including:
     – a technical examination of the current and future need of the line based on a known reduction in electric usage and challenging PJM to prove the new line is still required*
     – an evaluation of building a power plant within New Jersey to service that area directly, creating local jobs and improving local economies**
     – an evaluation of the raptor migration corridor, which all 3 lines will impact***
     – a cost analysis on the displacement cost for people, property value depreciation, and the tax revenue loss in townships for the areas along all 3 proposed paths
I do not believe that the decision for an entire route should be made on the EIS study and public input alone for 4.18 miles of public land.  If the NPS pushes for only a provincial EIS and public input without truly examining the cost to Pennsylvania residents outside the park’s jurisdiction, they are performing a disservice to the state and potentially causing a conflict of interest between the Federal Government and its citizens.  Basing the permit’s outcome without a full evaluation of all the lines or considering the additional alternative of perhaps building a power plant in New Jersey, the NPS could force its same governing body to utilize eminent domain under the NIETC act to complete this line in another location.  This act would inspire one to believe that the Federal Government as a whole is out to protect its interests solely without concern for its residents.
Pennsylvania has a long standing tradition of being the Keystone State.  While this nomenclature was born from democracy and our geographic setting within the original union, this name has a very different meaning for today’s publicly trading utility companies.  Pennsylvania has become the state through which all energy passes.  Land in 52 out of 67 counties in Pennsylvania can be taken via eminent domain through the National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor Act.  There is a clear disconnect when land in Pennsylvania can be used to service another state against its resident’s wishes under the guise of “public interest” when the state in need help refuses to help itself.

I strongly urge the NPS to fully evaluate all lines and all aspects of this argument before making a decision.  If that is not possible, I believe the best course of action would be to allow the Route B line to proceed through the park along the existing route.  PPL and PSE&G have stated that they will take extra precautions around the environment and going along the existing line would make the most sense.
*Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2009 “Weak Power Demand Dims Outlook”
*Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2010 “Two-State Power Line Is Put Off”
**Star News Online, December 23, 2009 “Nuclear power industry a boon to local economy”
**UMass and Center for American Progress-PERI, June 18, 2009 “The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy”
*** Kittatinny-Shawangunk National Raptor Migration Corridor Project

Posted on February 17, 2010 in Government by Matthew SekolNo Comments »

Did you know that under the NIETC act, the Federal government can take land using eminent domain in 52 out of 67 counties in Pennsylvania, but that does NOT apply to Federal and State lands, such as National Parks?

Its interesting that perhaps the National Parks Service could possibly deny the permit and the Federal government could not come in and take the land like it could take yours.

Posted on September 22, 2008 in Community, Government by Matthew SekolNo Comments »

Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone state.  If you look at it from a geographic perspective, this nomenclature becomes apparent.  Pennsylvania is the gateway to the Northeast from the rest of the country.  We are a heavily traveled state and will soon be utilized en masse to deliver electricity to the Northeast not only from our state but from every state west of Pennsylvania.  52 out of our 67 counties in Pennsylvania have been deemed legitimate transmission targets for the NIETC (National Interest Electric Corridors), which would turn our great state from “Penn’s Woods” into “Penn’s Towers.” 

Under NIETC (or if the utility already owns Right of Way through your area), any utility can seize your land for power lines while you continue to live on it or farm it.  Under current law you continue to pay taxes on this land and you receive no compensation from any of the extra costs you have to pay to farm around the tower or for any loss in the value of your property that is now “blighted” real estate. Yet the utility companies continue to reap the benefits year after year.

It gets worse since New Jersey has forced Pennsylvania’s hand with legislation outlawing new coal burning and nuclear plants, knowing that Pennsylvania, built on coal, would never pass such a law.  If you look at PJM’s long term plans, you will see new coal and nuclear plants being planned for central Pennsylvania.  We do not need this extra power but our neighbors do. No one can dispute that as a nation we all need a safe and efficient source of power and that we have to work together but it is the role and responsibility of our government to ensure, through fiscal incentives and regulation, that the goal is accomplished in a fair and just manner.

We are simply proposing that utilities pay the citizens of Pennsylvania proper compensation since our land is so valuable to the National Interest. We would like your help in sponsoring and promoting Pennsylvania legislation that will ensure more efficient use of existing infrastructure by removing the current economic incentive to put in a new line rather than to upgrade an existing line or invest in technology.

Proposed Pennsylvania legislation: Compensation to be paid for a right of way or for the real estate blight caused by an electricity transmission line: The compensation for the use of a right of way or for the blight caused by a electricity transmission line shall be an annual use fee payment based on a percentage of the value generated by the transmission line.

Such a payment would ensure visibility of the true value derived from right of way and ensure fair compensation is paid to those who have to endure the blight of a transmission line in “the national interest”. The response of the power generation and transmission companies would be to adjust their pricing accordingly, lowering the price in the producing or transmission area and increasing the price in the area of the consumption making local production such as residential or commercial solar more attractive.

Finally, in a world of rapidly advancing technology we can expect that the unit price of Photovoltaic cells (PV) will continue to decrease as their efficiency increases just as we have seen with computer memory. This emerging trend will increasingly become apparent over the next few years and it is highly possible that before the new gigantic towers designed to transmit power from one side of the county to another are completed, they will be obsolete. Consideration should therefore be given to the restitution of rights of way and the removal of the power transmission lines other than through the use of the Superfund.

Developing legislation requires considerable work in identifying, educating and persuading state Senators, Representatives and ultimately the Governor. Big corporations like PPL do this by hiring lobbyists but we have decided that we will be better served by continuing to work through volunteers like you and me. We need your help to get this issue before our legislators.

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