Pipeline supporters have no problem lying to persuade the public

A mini-drama has been unfolding on the comments section of nj.com for weeks now. Mysterious people have been showing up in the comments in support of PennEast with a variety of claims. The most egregious is from a user called “HunterdonTreeFarm”.

He has a heart breaking story to tell:

You can call me a NIMBY, but my family’s second generation tree farm is right along the proposed path; so for personal reasons, my family doesn’t wants to see this pipeline built here.

I don’t want to see this pipeline go through some of our scenic areas, like Balpate mountain. I think most of can agree we would not want to see a scar through such scenic areas. Hopefully Penneast can get some more landowners to allow surveys so they find a alternate route around some of more beautiful areas of the county.

At first I told Penneast they couldn’t survey my land and I planned to fight this. All of my neighbors told me that they were fighting this all the way and that I should fight it too. Penneast hosted a luncheon and a dinner for landowners to show us maps of the proposed plan. While I was there, I saw my next door neighbor looking at the map and talking to a representative. She had her back to me; so she didn’t know that I was there. I could hear her telling the Penneat representative that her land had wetlands on it and they should go through my tract instead. The very same neighbor telling me not to survey or to talk to Penneast was trying to convince them to run it through my property instead of her property. My neighbor was trying to cut a deal and leaving me holding the short end of the stick. At that point I decided to do what was best for my business and my family and gave Penneast approval to survey my property. Believe me, I don’t want this pipeline anywhere near my property and I want to fight this all the way. However, I have to be realistic that this pipeline will most definitely be approved. If I work with them that maybe they can minimize the impact on my land/business. I depend on my tree farm. My family lives pay check to pay check. I don’t see many alternatives. I don’t have the resources to pay the legal expenses to fight in condemnation court. All you get in condemnation court is money for the land value. If I work with Penneast they can give me money for loss of profits, land value, etc. I would never get that much through condemnation. I can’t afford walking away from that offer. I respect some landowners fighting this all the way. I just don’t see a plausible alternative for my family.

This is the type of story I like to try to highlight on the blog here – a real human interest story of a real person being confronted with this pipeline.

The only problem is that HunterdonTreeFarm has been blasting this message all across NJ.com. And others such as “Tony C”, “MonmouthCountyResident”, and the creatively named “WeLuvPennEast” are also joining the chorus and saying odd things like they know Tony Cox (the PennEast project manager) and can put in a good word for people who want leniency from the pipeline company. In fact they all write in the same way and vaguely assert they live around here without giving any plausible evidence of it.

In reality these all appear to be people lying on the forums to push public opinion towards the pipeline. The posts from HunterdonTreeFarm seem to be the lowest in that they’re actually trying to pretend they’re a person being hurt by the pipeline. There’s no evidence that this person is on the pipeline route or even a tree farmer. And of course “HunterdonTreeFarm”‘s dialogue rapidly falls apart as they shift from telling a sad story to being a cheerleader for PennEast:

@WestAmwellResident If Tony Cox says it’s not going overseas then it’s not going over seas. You can take that to the bank!

Has anyone ever stood on the texas eastern pipeline trail on the top of the mountain in the Sourlands between Hunterdon and Somerset County? One of the prettiest vistas in NJ. Spectacular view! You couldn’t get a view like that with all the trees in the way. Once I saw that view, I was sold on the PennEastern project.

So who are these people? Random trolls? Shills for PennEast? Union people trying to influence people through deception? A single lonely soul pretending to be a cast of dozens for kicks?

You can see HunterdonTreeFarm’s comments for yourself here:

HunterdonTreeFarm comments

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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 three cats Ponce de Leon, Oliver, and Doolittle.

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