PennVEST Approves the Pipeline to Nowhere

Yesterday, the PennVEST board met in a crowded room and voted to approve an “emergency application” to construct a 12-mile pipeline to about 14 homes with a $11.7 million taxpayer-funded grant and a $172,000 loan. Jim Panyard at the PA Independent has the story.

Given the publicity surrounding the pipeline, and the large amount of taxpayer money involved, you would think the PennVEST board would closely study this matter. Think again.

“We have spent over an hour on this, which is more time than we have spent (on any project) in the past eight years – combined,” said Mr. Manko [chair of the PennVEST board].

PA Independent reports that in the past eight years, PennVest approved $3.1 billion in taxpayer funded loans and grants for 805 projects.

At the meeting, Dimock residents like Ann Teel, who opposes the pipeline, made an impassioned plea:

“I wish the board would tell Secretary Hanger and his attorneys to stop tearing our community apart.”

“We don’t have that power,” Mr. Manko replied.

Cabot Oil & Gas attorney Doug Daniels pointed out that state law does not allow PennVEST to give grants to companies capable of paying a loan, and Pennsylvania American Water Company (who would receive the grant), earns about $2.4 billion in profits annually through its parent company.

The fight isn’t over yet, both Cabot and the Borough of Montrose plan to act in court against DEP and the construction of the waterline.