Steve Bergenfeld is running for the West Amwell Township Committee, and graciously agreed to be interviewed on his views about the PennEast pipeline, and how he believes the Township can help fight it.
You can visit his campaign Facebook page including endorsements here:
1) Why are you running, and why should people vote for you?
Steve: I have decided to run because I strongly believe that I have a lot to offer West Amwell Township.
I have established and grown several business, starting at the age of 17 to the present. I will use my business skills to improve West Amwell’s finances, as I am well versed in Township matters having served on the Finance Committee since its establishment in 2010, and on the planning board since 2009. I have also been on the other side as an applicant in multiple municipalities, so I have both perspectives.
I believe that West Amwell needs a fiscally conservative minded person on the Township Committee to hold spending and overregulation in check. We need to consider carefully before proceeding on any course of action that may take us back to government mismanagement. I will respect traditions and policies that have been developed over many years by our predecessors.
2) What is your position on the PennEast pipeline? Are you for it, against, it neutral, or something else?
Steve: I am totally against the proposed pipeline. Other than some property tax revenue there is no benefit to the Township or other municipalities in NJ, only risks. I feel that there are serious risks to potential groundwater and surface water contamination, and contamination of private wells. The use of eminent domain for a private enterprise of arguable need is deeply disturbing and the compensation offered to effected landowners is inadequate. The fact that preserved farms are not exempt from this taking is even more disturbing.
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?
Steve: Our Township passed a Resolution opposing the pipeline and appointed a very strong Pipeline Committee, which I fully support. The Township, with major input from the Pipeline Committee, hosted a community wide meeting last year to provide information and advice to residents. We continue to update our residents with information. The Pipeline Committee and the West Amwell Citizens Against the Pipeline group are mostly responsible for this dissemination of information.
[full disclosure: I am the founder of the West Amwell Citizens Against the Pipeline -Mike]
4) What is your opinion on PennEast’s purpose and need? Will this be a net-benefit to people in NJ?
Steve: Very few West Amwell homes and businesses use natural gas due to our low density development which make delivery impractical. The pipeline would not change that, so there really is no local benefit. There may be a need for more gas elsewhere in New Jersey but if so there are many existing pipelines to deliver to those areas.
5) If you’re against the pipeline, how do you plan on fighting it going into PennEast application period?
Steve: I will work very closely with our Pipeline Committee and will stand with and work with their recommendations going forward. They have my utmost respect and I will support their recommendations. I will work closely with our neighboring townships, as we need to provide a united front.
6) What can residents do to get more involved and help?
Steve: Now that Penneast has filed their application with FERC the process has entered a new, more formal phase.
Residents can apply to FERC to be an Intervenor and affected property owners can continue to deny survey access for PennEast. Residents should contact the Township Clerk, Lora Olsen, 397.2054 for updated information, or the Pipeline Committee chair, Cathy Urbanski, 397-8459.
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?
Steve: The Pipeline Committee and the Environmental Commission as well as the Township Committee and Board of Health will work with residents with these issues
8) How can townships collaborate better to fight the pipeline?
Steve: We all must work together and provide a united front.
9) Can townships work more closely with state and federal agencies on issues such as this one?
Steve: We must collaborate our efforts with State and Federal Agencies. We will continue to work with the NJDEP as per their permitting process.
10) Any closing remarks
Steve: Thank you very much.