Crossing the Appalachian Trail

Dan of Bath, PA writes about the pipeline crossing the historic Appalachian Trail.

I am concerned about the impacts of building this pipeline and other proposed pipelines that cross the Appalachian trail. Furthermore, I have concerns in general about a large increase in the development of natural gas reserves and the impact of using those reserves quickly on climate change and air and water pollution. I believe that FERC and it’s environmental impact statement should address the issues of not only the creation of the pipeline and where it’s sited, but also the larger impacts of exploiting these resources quickly based on creating new large capacity pipelines, and their potential pollution impacts and health costs including the release of atmospheric gases and contaminated water. This should include the rate of development of these natural gas reserves and consideration of the fact that PA and NJ rank in the top 10 of all of the states with the highest levels of air pollution. If FERC should be weighing the public benefit of the building this pipeline then it should consider the cost of the health impacts of air pollution on the public. Current air pollution maps show that the terminus for this pipeline is one of the highest areas of air pollution in the country. Long term health impacts to the millions of people living in the area should be weighed against the benefit of employing 2000 construction workers for 8 months or even the profits of even cheaper natural gas to the communities purporting to benefit from this pipeline.

I volunteer maintaining the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) and personally spend over 100 hours a year working to support the trail. I am concerned about new fragmentation of the forest along the trail. New cuts through the forest create openings for invasives and also cause fragmentation of contiguous forest cover which impacts some species of wildlife. I would like to see this new pipeline co-aligned along existing infrastructure particularly in areas where it crosses forested lands such as the AT. For instance, in this case, the pipeline could be co-aligned with a powerline crossing of the AT that is a short distance away from the proposed AT crossing (between Delps and Little Gap.)

I am concerned that during construction the PennEast construction contractor may not want the public to use the trail or trailheads that cross their construction area. The trails must remain open like any other transportation corridor (road, powerline, etc).

I was involved in the monitoring of the construction of the recent Williams-Transco pipeline in the section called “Wind Gap loop” where the new pipeline crossed the Appalachian Trail – FERC docket – PF06-32-000 and have found that although best practices were followed in the construction and restoration of the land after the construction of that pipeline, there has been little recovery of the “temporary” buffer area that was cleared during construction. Most of the trees replanted have died. Invasives have spread throughout the cleared area. The so-called temporary buffer is not temporary in terms of the forest damage caused looking back over 8 years.

Following up on the above experience, I don’t understand why this pipeline that starts and ends in basically the same area as the Williams- Transco pipeline isn’t using the same ROW. Transco has 4 lines installed in the ROW the oldest of which is quite small. As an alternative, the smallest of those could be purchased by PennEast and replaced with a larger pipe, staying basically within the same ROW. This would involve less direct impact across new areas.

In the past month, I’ve read about natural gas explosions in NJ leveling a home and causing evacuations of a neighborhood and many injuries. I’ve read about explosions further away in West Virginia and locally last winter in Allentown and Moorestown PA. Clearly the companies (including the PennEast member companies) that provide this dangerous explosive gas are not following best practices as their buried pipelines have failed as the infrastructure ages and they have failed to replace and repair them. I’m concerned that if this line is built it will one day in the future have a catastrophic failure and cause injuries and death. I’m also concerned that power generation stations and industries that solely depend on it will become huge liabilities in the case of fuel delivery failure.

As people in the FERC scoping meetings have stated, many people’s objections are not based on theories or conjecture, but on observed fact. Many many pipelines have been built before and we have objective evidence of the end results. The most telling part of Dan’s submission for me is what he learned from a pipeline through the A.T. several years ago:

I was involved in the monitoring of the construction of the recent Williams-Transco pipeline in the section called “Wind Gap loop” where the new pipeline crossed the Appalachian Trail – FERC docket – PF06-32-000 and have found that although best practices were followed in the construction and restoration of the land after the construction of that pipeline, there has been little recovery of the “temporary” buffer area that was cleared during construction. Most of the trees replanted have died. Invasives have spread throughout the cleared area. The so-called temporary buffer is not temporary in terms of the forest damage caused looking back over 8 years.

Let’s hope the FERC listens.

Dan’s submission is below:

 
Dan’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

Dan’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

 

Published by

Mike Spille

I'm a thinker, an analyzer, a synthesizer. Maybe not in that order. I live in West Amwell NJ with my wife Kristina, our two kids Day and Z, our two dogs Fern and Cinna, and two cats Ponce de Leon and Xavier.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s