The other day I received a disturbing flyer from the Democratic campaign in West Amwell, the West Amwell Proud folks. In it, they attacked incumbent Zach Rich and insinuated that the township is weak on PennEast. Specifically, they claim that the township only donated $300 to support http://thecostofthepipeline.com and http://pipeinfo.org, and that they only made that donation because the Democrats made a similar donation to West Amwell Citizens Against the Pipeline. The whole tone of the article implies the Township has been inactive and inattentive on the whole issue.
I’d like to set the record straight on that. I think this latest attack by the West Amwell Proud campaign shows just how little they understand how Township works.
West Amwell Township has been out leading the fight against PennEast since it was first proposed. Here is the Township website on PennEast:
On the site there were over 40 updates to Township residents from October 2014 to July 2015. This effort was lead by the incredible Cathy Urbanksi, one of the true unsung heroes of our little town. Cathy is the chair of West Amwell’s Environmental Commission, and she has been unflagging in her efforts to stop this project. I’ve worked very closely with Cathy since the summer of 2015 to ensure that township doing everything it can to help stop this project. Since then, updates for the Township have been coming predominantly through West Amwell CAP, which is why the township page’s history ends in July 2015. I effectively took up a lot of house keeping on PennEast so the township environmental commission wasn’t solely focused on PennEast (they do A LOT!).
Along the way an ENORMOUS amount of work was undertaken. West Amwell submitted hundreds of pages to FERC during both the pre-filing and application process. They passed resolutions against the project, and passed ordinances to keep our Township safe and to make it more difficult for PennEast to try to worm their way in. They met with agencies such as NJDEP and talked to face to face with PennEast as well.
In October 2015, West Amwell Township promptly filed to intervene in the proceedings with FERC, and has continued to submit exceptionally strong documentation to FERC showing why this project is not needed, and how badly it will damage West Amwell Township’s ecosystem, drinking water systems, history, and our very way of life.
During the DEIS comment period, the Township ensured we were heard, and submitted several documents to FERC, including this one – signed by (among others)
Zachary T. Rich, Mayor
Stephen Bergenfeld, Committeeman
Robert E. Tomenchok Jr., Chair, Planning Board
James J. Cally, Board of Health; Planning Board
Cathy Urbanski, Chair, Environmental Commission; Open Space Committee
The Township has also been smart to not try to go it alone. They’ve been working with other townships and groups in the area to fight the project. In September 2016, Mayor Rich joined five other local Mayors in a letter to the editor debunking PennEast’s supposed-benefits to local municipalities. They’ve been working with the Citizens Against the Pipeline Groups, and Non-Governmental Organizations like the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association. They’ve been working with well-known local companies like Princeton Hydro. And also with people like myself.
This wasn’t done with money. Money isn’t what’s going to beat this project. We fight because we love our town, and Cathy, and Zach Rich, and the rest of the township officials have happily volunteered hundreds of hours to fight PennEast. They do it for our Township. They do it because West Amwell is worth it.
West Amwell’s fight against PennEast has been hard fought, and kudos should be given to the people like Cathy who have poured so much blood sweat and tears into the effort.
I’ll close with this – the efforts of the We Are West Amwell team against PennEast have been extremely well documented.
So in contrast, what have Eric Richard and the West Amwell Proud team done in connection with PennEast? So far, I have this:
- They’ve received over $25,000 in pro-PennEast money
- They gave $250 to West Amwell Citizens Against the Pipeline
- They’ve made some brief statements that they’re against the pipeline, with no details or plans
And that’s it.
I’ve been searching the Internet for a couple of weeks now to see what else that team has done in connection to PennEast. So far, I haven’t found squat. None of the the West Amwell Proud candidates have commented to FERC or any other agency. None have intervened in the federal docket. There are no letters to the editor, no petitions signed. They don’t seem to be on any of my mailing lists.
There’s a whole lotta nothing there.
So rather than criticizing the Township for not spending massive amounts of money against PennEast, I would hope that Mr. Richard and friends would thank the Township for accomplishing so much with so little. And perhaps they should look inward and ask themselves what they’ve actually done to fight PennEast.
P.S. The timing of that $300 donation was because I asked for donations at that time. It had nothing to do with the election.