The PennEast pipeline is a natural gas pipeline being proposed by PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC. This company is a consortium of industry players that have gotten together to pool their resources for pipeline construction and subsequent operation.
The proposed pipeline is 36”, or three feet, in diameter. PennEast FAQ says the maximum operating pressure will be 1480 pounds per square inch, and will carry a billion cubic feet of gas a day.
The pipeline will be over 100 miles long. It starts in Lucerne County, PA, runs south east across the state, just nipping Bucks County, and then passes into NJ where it traverses most of Hunterdon County, and then terminates in northern Mercer County in Pennington, NJ.
It will be constructed of steel, with individual sections welded together on-site. The “survey corridor” is 400 feet wide. The final construction area will require somewhere around 100′ in width, and the easement at the end of construction will require 50 feet. The area has to be kept permanently denuded of trees and shrubbery. The ditch will be approximately 8 feet deep. They’ll have to blast in many places because of the diabase nature of much of the Sourlands, including Goat Hill, Baldpate Moutain, Belle Mountain, etc.
During actual construction they will require staging sites along the route to store material such as pipe section and heavy equipment. They may also need to build temporary road access points in remote areas along the route.
The route set in January 2015 is set to go along existing power line easements. However, since the pipeline can’t go right under the power lines it appears that it will be necessary to widen the easement in many areas.
The route runs very close to schools, such as West Amwell Elementary. Parks, such as Hewitt Park. Homes all along the route. It cuts through farmland, and runs through many category 1 streams.
It will go right next to a golf course in PA, the Jack Frost club.
It goes through legally permanently protected land including Open Spaces, Preserved Farmland, DEP preserved lands, and land trusts. It runs within a few hundred feet of reservoirs such as the Swan Creek reservoir, which provides drinking water to West Amwell. It runs through a county where nearly all residents rely on private wells for their water and private septic systems.
The pipeline is currently in what’s called “pre-approval” stage with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). FERC is technically the sole authority that can give approval or not for this pipeline.
Eminent Domain is in play with this pipeline if it is approved by the FERC. The “if” is important. If’ it’s not approved, the project dies. If it is, PennEast will be required to try to negotiate right-of-way easements for the pipeline route, both temporary ones around 100′ wide during construction, and permanent 50′ wide ones for when the pipeline is operational. If you cannot reach an agreement with PennEast then the government will take you to court with an eminent domain proceeding.
The pipeline will interconnect with several existing pipelines along the way. While PennEast says the gas is intended for NJ and PA use only, in fact the pipelines they are connected to can deliver gas up and down the eastern sea board, including the new Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) export facility in Cove Point, Maryland and a proposed facility in Maine called Downeast LNG. Cove Point is already 100% subscribed and will be shipping hundreds of billions of cubic feet of natural gas to India and Asia when it becomes operational.
The above information is just the facts, folks. None of it is disputed by PennEast except for the LNG connection, which they vehemently deny. However, anyone who can read a map can see that PennEast will be part of the national pipeline network, and that network is largely unconstrained in where gas goes. It’s setup to go where it’s needed, and if we add LNG export terminals to them then gas will go there, too, almost by definition. The only impediments to that are the fact that many pipelines are one-way only into the North East. But don’t worry – pipeline companies are “fixing” this by making their pipeline bi-directional. This lets them send the gas wherever it is most needed, which generally translates into where it’s the most expensive (classic supply/demand).