Stop the Midnight Raid on PennVEST for a “Pipeline to Nowhere”


TO: Members of the General Assembly
FROM:   Matthew J. Brouillette, President & CEO, Commonwealth Foundation
DATE: November 8, 2010
RE: Stop Rendell/Hanger’s Midnight Raid on PennVEST for a “Pipeline to Nowhere”

On Tuesday, November 9th, the lame-duck, Rendell-dominated PennVEST Board will consider several applications for sewer and water infrastructure projects.

We want to call your attention to one application, in particular, that Secretary John Hanger has forced onto the PennVEST agenda as an “emergency application” (i.e., submitted after the deadline for applications had already passed).  If approved by PennVEST, the “Hanger Plan” would spend $12 million of limited sewer and water infrastructure grant and loan money to construct a water pipeline from Montrose to Dimock to serve, at most, only 14 homes. 

Neither the Montrose nor the Dimock communities support the Hanger Plan.  If not rejected, this $12 million, “Midnight Raid” by a lame-duck Governor and lame-duck Secretary on a lame-duck PennVEST Board will seriously diminish PennVEST’s ability to approve grants for other worthy sewer and water infrastructure projects throughout Pennsylvania. 

It is for these reasons, and those laid out below, that we urge you to discuss this matter with your leaders and respective caucus PennVEST appointees to ensure that this application is rejected. 

In 2009, PennVEST awarded only $15 million in grants (down from $32 million in 2005).  In fact, each year since 2005, funds available for PennVEST grants have been reduced dramatically. 

The Hanger Plan would take water from Montrose—which opposes the Plan and has threatened a legal injunction to stop it—and deliver that water via a $12 million pipeline to Dimock, where the only supporters of the plan just happen to be parties to a class action lawsuit against Cabot Oil & Gas.  Indeed, a local community group called “Enough Already” recently circulated a petition within the Dimock and Montrose communities opposing Secretary Hanger’s and Governor Rendell’s proposed “Midnight Raid” on PennVEST.  More than 1,500 citizens have signed on to that petition as of this date and more are being added every day. 

What makes Secretary Hanger’s proposed Midnight Raid even more offensive is how he has politicized what has traditionally been a competitive process at PennVEST.  Indeed, the Commonwealth Foundation has learned that anti-drilling activists from outside Pennsylvania are organizing a protest to support this plan to spend Pennsylvania taxpayers’ money, saying that “this issue is not just about a water pipeline,” but is a symbolic gesture, punishing gas companies.

Just this past Tuesday, Pennsylvania voters rejected Gov. Rendell’s overspending ways.  With Governor-elect Corbett and the new legislature facing a multi-billion dollar deficit, now is not the time to allow a lame-duck PennVEST Board waste another $12 million on a pipeline to nowhere.

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The Commonwealth Foundation ( is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA.