Caroline Katmann, the Executive Director of the Sourland Conservancy, has posted a comment to the FERC docket today that completely exposes PennEast’s incompetence in planning the pipeline route.
She opens her comments with:
As you have already been made aware, PennEast’s DRAFT Wildlife Resource Report of April 21, 2015, is error-ridden. I am writing to make you aware of one particular error that exposes the lack of intelligence, integrity and care that PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC has applied to its research related to this project.
In the Resource Report, Pages 3-24 – 3-25 | 188.8.131.52 Significant or Sensitive Habitats, the following is stated:
“The project is located within the Highlands Planning area in parts of Holland and Alexandria Townships, NJ; this is discussed further in Resource Report 8. The project corridor does not cross the primary portion of Sourland Mountain, but a section known as Baldpate Mountain is within the project area. Baldpate Mountain is discussed further in the Migratory Birds section of Resource Report 3.”
Caroline than explains just how terribly wrong PennEast’s comments are about this:
This is not true. Although it is correct that Baldpate Mountain is a portion of the Sourland Region that is within the project area, hundreds of additional acres of forest, wetlands, agricultural lands and built up land within West Amwell and Hopewell Townships are also within the project area. Every one of the proposed
routes for the PennEast Pipeline have been well within the Sourland Region, including the latest “preferred” route. It is simply a blatant lie to state otherwise.
She goes onto explain the true extent of the Sourland Mountain region and the impact PennEast could have on it:
The Natural Resources Inventory and the maps are based on a study area that encompasses the forest area, the Jurassic Diabase formation that comprises the Sourland Ridge, water recharge areas for the Sourlands, important habitat types on the ridge and on the flanks of the ridge, and areas that would be affected by
water flowing out of the Sourland Region. Any land uses in these areas would have impacts on the resources of Sourland Mountain. As the PennEast pipeline would be a significant and intrusive land use by anyone’s definition, a smart, ethical and thorough approach to research of potential impacts would consider the entire 87 square mile Sourland Mountain Region described above.
It goes without saying that what Caroline is talking about is common sense, and PennEast should not be defining terms and areas so narrowly. But she saves the best for last. Her closing comments are:
The Sourland Conservancy is the only organization solely dedicated to the protection of the Sourlands. Our mission is protect the ecological integrity, historic resources and special character of the Sourland Mountain region. As the Executive Director of the Sourland Conservancy, I have given my contact information to several PennEast representatives at various public meetings and over the telephone. No one has ever contacted me to discuss the Sourland Region – what it is, where it is, how it would be impacted, and so on.
Unfortunately, at one PennEast Open House I asked a dozen PennEast representatives if they could tell me about the Sourlands and none of them had ever heard of the region, including the representatives at the “Environment” table.
I implore FERC, on behalf of the Sourland Conservancy, not to accept the sloppy and dangerously inaccurate research of PennEast regarding the Sourland Mountain Region or any of the other impacted lands along the proposed routes. Please consider carefully all of the research that has been diligently collected and submitted by those of us who have the facts and know the truth about the regions in which we study, research, work, play and live every day!
And the above is the real crux of the matter. PennEast reps really don’t know anything about the area. They’ve done next to no research and nearly a year after they’ve started they still seem to be steeped largely in ignorance about New Jersey. And they show no interest in changing that situation by engaging local residents and organizations and learning more about our state. Countless organizations and individuals have reached out to PennEast to engage in a dialogue with them – and in every case I’ve heard of PennEast has never returned the call. The only time PennEast people will call you is to beg for survey access.
We should thank our lucky stars that we have organizations like the Sourland Conservancy to stand up to the government and PennEast and force them to consider their actions carefully and not go about destroying our land like a bull in a china shop. Join your voice to theirs and keep commenting to the FERC and curing PennEast of their ignorance of our lovely corner of the garden state! And PA residents, keep supporting your local conservation groups like the Cooks Creek Watershed Association and others who are doing the same West of the Delaware.
Her full comments are available here: