MONDAY 4/10 OAL HEARING UPDATE
Day 5 down, looking like 2 or 3 more to go. JCP&L has 2 more witnesses to put up for cross-examination, and then our RAGE witnesses will get up on the stand to be cross-examined by JCP&L.
Today's JCP&L witnesses: their environmental & permitting expert, Cronin, and the Route Selection consultant, Sparhawk. Both work for JCP&L contractor Louis Berger.
Cronin is responsible for knowing and documenting the environmentally sensitive land and habitats in the vicinity of the project, and applying for all the various permits needed from the federal and state agencies, namely the NJ DEP. Long story short: none of the permits have been applied for yet. She also was good at not being sure of exactly where the environmentally sensitive areas were, exactly, or how many trees would need to be cut down, exactly, or where the sheet piling noted on the 'preliminary' planning maps was still needed, exactly.
Next up was her colleague, Sparhawk, who was lead on the team that JCP&L hired to do the "Corridor and Route Study" to evaluate the potential project routes and recommend which one to pursue. Guess what? Sparhawk was asked to start this "study" to evaluate routes BEFORE they got notification of the P7 violation from PJM. JCP&L knew they wanted this line, long before PJM told them they needed it. This supports our theory that this line is something they want and have wanted for a long time... they were searching for an excuse to push it through. Not only that, but once they had that reason, they very quickly and without much detail or justification scrapped the other "possible" routes and landed on two: the NJT tracks and Route 35. And THEN, when doing the cost estimates for each, they conveniently didn't include ANY MONEY in the NJT Route cost for payment to NJT for the ROW!!!!!! Well jeez, no wonder it seems the most "cost-effective" option! It was easy to see the very clear fishiness of this entire study's validity from where I was sitting in the courtroom, I hope the judge saw that too. This study very much looked like a "cover up" to try to fill in some blanks to make it look like multiple routes were considered, when in reality they knew from the very beginning which route they were going for. You know when you have to write a to-do list, and you put down things you already did just so you can cross them off? THAT's kind of what they did here. Put stuff on paper knowing they would cross them off in 2 seconds. And their reasons for crossing them off are inconsistent and weak.
Sparhawk will continue to be cross-examined tomorrow, and after him there is one more JCP&L witness, Irving, who did a report on the "economic benefit" this project will bring to NJ. He is the last JCP&L witness before our experts are put up on the stand and cross-examined by JCP&L.
Keep the good thoughts coming! I feel like every day more and more is revealed that shows not only that this project is a bad idea, it's a bad idea that was deceptively presented, and as we thought all along, is a lot more about what JCP&L/First Energy WANTS and nothing to do with what we NEED.
My fingers are crossed and I am taking nothing for granted, but I have to say that things feel like they are going well. That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that the hearings are now looking like they will go 2 full days longer than scheduled... instead of 6, it's looking like 8. So that means we have to pay for 2 more days' worth of hearings than we expected. Can you sense what's coming? Yep! Our nightly request for donations! We have had many donors stepping it up over the past 2 weeks, and we need every penny. If you haven't donated recently, please do! Mail a check or make a donation online by credit card! Takes 2 minutes! All info here: www.StopJCPL.org
Here is a photo of the hearing room that I took during a break. The judge sits behind that big desk on the left. Witness stand is just to the right of that. Alongside that are some exhibits on easels. Court stenographer sits right in front of that. The table at the bottom is where our attorney, the towns' attorneys, and Rate Counsel sits. On the other side is a table where JCP&L sits, and the Deputy Attorney Generals from BPU are also seated over there. The public seats are all set up in rows behind these two tables. They are not the most comfortable, FYI, but they are at least padded. :)
We are past the halfway point of the hearings! Every day is a day closer to us winning this thing once and for all. Maybe we are weeks away, maybe months, maybe longer (though god I hope not)... but I do know this -- whatever it takes, we will not stop until this project is killed. RAGE ON, everybody!