Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be doing interviews with local candidates to get their stance on the PennEast pipeline, how they intend to deal with it and how they can help us win. If you have a candidate you want me to interview , shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First up is Sam Thompson, who’s running for one of the open Township Committee seats in Delaware Township.
1) Why are you running, and why should people vote for you?
Thompson: I have run for office before, and after 4 losses I decided that I could be of service in other ways. A little over a year ago I heard about this pipeline and I began to get involved. By February I was given responsibility by our township’s Pipeline Subcommittee for supplying scoping questions about pipeline safety. I also spoke during one of the FERC scoping sessions.
It was clear to me by then that our township needed a boost in its efforts to fight the pipeline. So, with the encouragement of many people in my Township, I entered the race.
In addition to the amount of information I have learned about this pipeline project, I also have a good deal of experience with project accounting and budgeting. After reviewing our township budgets from the last few years, I believe Delaware Township needs a new approach to managing its finances. My educational background in analysis and my problem solving skills gained over my 25+ year career in IT will be very valuable in fixing our financial issues.
2) What is your position on the PennEast pipeline? Are you for it, against, it neutral, or something else?
Thompson: I oppose the PennEast pipeline project for a multitude of reasons, primarily that a private company can use eminent domain for its own economic gain.
3) What do you think your township has done right so far in dealing with the Pipeline company? And where do your think there could be improvements?
Thompson: I think our township was wise to create a pipeline subcommittee and give it a very strong leader. I wish our township committee would speak with a stronger voice in opposition to the pipeline.
It is my goal to change that.
4) What is your opinion on PennEast’s purpose and need? Will this be a net-benefit to people in NJ?
Thompson: I see no real purpose for the pipeline. PennEast has not proven there is a need for this gas in NJ (or PA, NY, DE for that matter).
5) If you’re against the pipeline, how do you plan on fighting it going into PennEast application period?
Thompson: The fight needs to be multifaceted:
- Putting political pressure on FERC by engaging our members of Congress who represent this area
- Continuing to support affected residents with environmental, historical, economic information specific to their property
- Engaging FERC directly as intervenors
- Working with our state representatives to continue encouraging NJDEP to stick its guns regarding the permitting process.
6) What can residents do to get more involved and help?
- Sign up as intervenors
- Deny PennEast survey access
- Continue outreach to their elected representatives
- Assist affected property owners to gather any survey information that would impact the EIS
- report any suspicious surveying activity immediately
7) How can township committees help residents that worry about water safety issues, septic system worries, construction issues, traffic impacts, etc etc that are anticipated if this project is approved?
Thompson: Please see my answer to question 8. I believe these questions are intertwined.
8) How can townships collaborate better to fight the pipeline?
Thompson: Each township has been working over the last year to collect information about how to deal with impacts from this project. We should be able to combine all of this information to provide a “database” for all of the communities along the pipeline’s path.
- Residents with questions and concerns would have the benefit of this combined wealth of information.
- Townships can also align on a very consistent message to county, state, and federal officials and agencies.
- While staying away from endorsing private services, this database can include contacts for experts who can answer questions about water, septic, etc..
The model used by the XXCAP organizations [Citizens Against the Pipeline] is a good one. Each of us knows our localities best, but when there is a resource that can help beyond a local border, it is shared (such as intervenor training). If we stop the pipeline in one town, we stop it in all towns.
9) Can townships work more closely with state and federal agencies on issues such as this one?
Thompson: The approach to this fight is proving to be an excellent model for how townships can engage directly state and federal agencies. It is also a model for showing how townships can work together to monitor said agencies and hold them more accountable.
10) Any closing remarks
Thompson: If you have not registered as a FERC intervenor, time is growing short.
Please write your state assembly people and senators and ask them to support DEP in sticking to its existing procedures for reviewing permits and to disallow any data from PennEast that has been obtained illegally.
Note: you can find out information on what intervening is and how to do it at: