The 400ft KILL ZONE

I think Nora in Stockton NJ has a reason to be upset….

My 24 acre farm abuts the proposed route of the PennEast Pipeline. I have major concerns about the consequences of this pipeline coming so close to my house, drinking water well & horses.

1.At a recent township meeting in Delaware Township I learned that there is a 400ft KILL ZONE around the Pipeline! This means that if there were a leak, the explosion could kill everything within a 400 ft. radius .My house and horses are within the KILL ZONE. I believe that it is a violation of my human rights to force me to live in fear of my husband, horses & myself dying from a pipeline breach. How would I be able to live knowing of this possibility? This violation of my human rights would be for a private company’s profits

2.This concern is not unwarranted! Just recently, on January 15th, 2015, there was a natural gas line break near Bellis Rd & Shire roads in Holland Township, NJ. This gas line break resulted in a half mile radius evacuation. This gas line was 12 inches in diameter. The proposed PennEast Pipeline is 36 inches in diameter. If there is a break in the PennEast Pipeline how large would the radius of evacuation be? Once again, why should I be forced to live within a EVACUATION ZONE of a pipeline for a private companies profit. Additionally, how would we evacuate our horses & live stock. Once again, should my horses lives be endangered for a private company’s profits.

That Kill Zone perimeter is pretty terrifying when you look at some of the PennEast proposed route in Pennsylvania:

Cutting farms in half

Emma in Stockton NJ owns a fifty acre farm that will have the pipeline running across its entire length. She shares some of her concerns:

1. The proposed easement is would block all fifty acres from being accessed by heavy equipment. The access gate for farm equipment, carefully placed so that there is adequate room to turn a farm tractor from the road will fall within the proposed easement. This is also where the neighboring farm of over 100 acres is also accessed, and also the third adjoining farm behind. So in essence, three farms will be blocked from farm equipment.

2. The access to my lower fields that are farmed will also be blocked by the easement.

3. The easement will prevent me from farming almost one third of my land if even if the access problem could be solved.

4. In the proposed easement is a fruit orchard of over 50 trees and farm of over 350 species of daylilies that will have to be relocated. If the orchard is changed it also endangers the bees that are being raised by our beekeeper.

5. An eighty thousand dollar freestanding solar array, paid for by New Jersey may be within the easement proposal.

6. There is a pond, a creek, and substantial wetlands that will be crossed. Study will be needed to determine if there are specific endangered vegetation in this area and how the hydrology of the stream will be affected.

7. There is a natural hedgerow with at least three dens, one of them may be a wildcat den, and a natural run off waterway that leads directly to the creek, specifically within the proposed placement of the pipeline. If the dirt is at all compacted in this runoff area, there will be substantial storm water management issues that will impact homes downstream. Roads have already been washed out in big weather events.

8. There are numerous natural springs that need to be located specifically in relation to the proposed pipeline.

9. There is an old stone well that needs to be investigated, because it may be of historical significance and the possible sight of an old homestead.

10. There is an oak tree, over 250 years old, which has already been specifically protected by the township that will be endangered.

If you take a look at an overhead map of Stockton you can see what Emma is talking about:

As you can see this is pristine farm country that the pipeline will be running through (the pipeline survey corridor is the parallel purple lines). In many cases they’re trying to co-locate along the power line right-of-way – but then again in many cases they aren’t. Here’s a virgin tract that’s going to be ripped up by Penn East:

First hand account of living near a pipeline eruption

Susan in Milford NJ lives near the spot where a natural gas pipeline erupted in Holland Township, NJ:

I live about 1000’ from the spot where the pipeline in Holland Township erupted yesterday afternoon. My house vibrated, the smell was noxious and the sound was like a freight train running through my houses. I had a headache and chest pain and felt nauseous the rest of the day. It was difficult to get reliable information about what was going on and I was given conflicting advice about the need to evacuate. So from my personal experience, no one can persuade me that natural gas pipelines are safe. This pipeline was only 12” in diameter and it makes my hair stand on end to think what it would have been like had it been 36” as proposed by PennEast. The risk is unacceptable.

Like the rest of us she also wonders how the hell protected, preserved land can be stolen by eminent domain:

My property abuts NJ Green Acres land that is SUPPOSED to be protected from development. My tax dollars paid for this purchase, just as my tax dollars paid for open space and preserved farmland in Holland Township, so I am a stakeholder in this application. It is most egregious that this designation means nothing when greedy corporations like Penn East and its partners decide to TARGET preserved land for ravaging the natural habitats and prime agricultural soils to provide unnecessary and redundant transit for more fossil fuels than we need. The money spent on shoving this project down the throats of Holland Township residents could be better used to develop clean renewable energy sources instead of destroying critical animal habitats, pristine waterways and adding more serious run-off problems to the Delaware River basin.

Her full set of comments are below:

Susan from Milford – FERC Generated PDF

Susan from Milford – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

West Amwell Township Planning Board conveys their “strident opposition” to the pipeline

It’s funny that you can’t open a newspaper or watch the TV news without hearing another story of corrupt politicians, inept government, or just plain all around incompetence in the public sector. Yet how often do you hear a story about a government body doing the right thing?

Robert E. Tomenchok Jr, chairman of the West Amwell Township Planning Board, shows us government done right:

The West Amwell Township Planning Board wishes to convey our strident opposition to the proposed PennEast pipeline.

While we favor strongly the development of domestic energy resources, and support strenuously the free enterprise system, there are numerous aspects about this project with which we object.
Specifically:

1) The proposed route appears to have been chosen with little or no regard to the proximity of schools, emergency facilities, housing, wetlands, woodlands, historic structures/features, et cetera. The Planning Board strives to ensure that we leave West Amwell in better condition than we found it, and this project fails this simple test.

2) In most every aspect of governance home rule continues to be eroded, being slowly and systematically replaced by centralized control. The fact that we have so little control over such important decisions is aggravating, demoralizing, and causes many intelligent, caring citizens to eschew public service. Were it not for the fact that the pipeline crosses the Delaware River, it would have appropriate local input and control.

3) The threat of the exercise of Eminent Domain to secure land for a for-profit enterprise flies in the face of the free enterprise system. While we recognize that there exists a need for government to intervene in rare cases where intransigence stymies the public good, we feel that this project does not rise to that level.

4) The virginal nature of this pipeline should dictate even greater scrutiny. History shows that once a route has been established additional pipelines can and will follow. West Amwell is a rural community of mostly small farms with two large and two small housing developments. The proposed route has drawn objection across the demographic spectrum – from full time farmers to metropolitan commuters who come home to sleep in their tract homes.

Read the full submission below:

West Amwell Township Planning Board – FERC Generated PDF

West Amwell Township Planning Board – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

About the FERC site

You can access the FERC comments area by going to their eLibrary here:

http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp

Select “General Search”, then “Filed Date during previous 1 years”, then put in Docket Number “PF15-1-” (exactly like that!).  What you’ll get from this search is all the documents filed with the FERC including required filings by Penn East, protest letters and letters of support.

Some of the filings may surprise you.  Going into this I expected the usual suspects to show up – various politicians, rabid eco fanatics, people yelling the government stealing from them yet again, and people with little better to do then to post things on government web sites all day.

What I saw instead was a tsunami of concerned citizens voicing their objections in well-reasoned, and sometimes heartbreaking, prose.  Couples pleading to keep their farm off the route.  Historical preservation societies high lighting revolutionary war sites in the path of the pipeline.  Wives describing their husbands’ stupendous flower garden built over a life time that will be devastated by this work.  Park officials detailing the effects of clearing wide lands on steep slopes.  Rural residents who survive off wells worried their drinking water could be poisoned.

I’m highlighting those documents that really spoke to me.  If you know of any good ones I’ve missed please let me know and I”ll get them posted here.

We’ll start with this one, a West Amwell resident who tells us about the Mount Airy Historic district and what this pipeline will do it and her property:

FERC Generated PDF

The Cost of the Pipeline

A large consortium of energy companies is proposing to build a pipeline through Eastern Pennsylvania and Hunterton County in Western NJ.  Called the PennEast pipeline, this 36″ natural gas super highway will be running through parks, ecologically preserved areas, unstable ground, near schools, and right through populated neighborhoods.

This blog will explore the opposition to this pipeline as it has been presented to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in the form of letters and documents written by citizens and politicians in the area.  I’ll be linking to and highlighting letters from individuals showing what the cost of the PennEast pipeline will be to them.

These are real documents written by real residents who will be impacted by this pipeline.