Who benefits again exactly?

Michael in Pennington has a very in-depth submission to the ferc.gov.  What he (and everyone else) is wondering about is: who will this benefit again exactly?  Not vague assurances and statistics, but actual quantifiable results?

Ill perceived benefits

As I write, the the Penn East Pipeline Company is seeking approval from FERC to place a pipeline through our community. I have attended meetings and listened to presentations by their representatives who continue to tow the party line that the pipeline will be beneficial to the community because of the savings for the cost of gas and for the creation of new jobs.

Meanwhile, there are neighborhoods in the community through which the proposed pipeline would traverse that does not even have gas service. The gas distribution company in the area- PSE&G- which is also a member of the Penn East Pipeline Company conglomerate admittedly has no plans for service upgrades to serve the residents of those communities. Additionally, there is no specificity and no commitment for a set reduction in or delivery price for gas. The savings are neither quantifiable nor do they appear to be better than the rates that will be offered to communities that will not be impacted by the pipeline. In other types of government subsidized or enabled projects there are incentives to businesses and concessions made by those businesses that provide direct, quantified benefit to the citizens. One such example would be tax credits that are given to real estate developers for providing low or middle income housing. In these models there is a precise quantifiable benefit to private corporations and also a quantifiable benefit or value to citizens. The FERC model of review and grant of eminent domain to private entities does not even come close to quantifying a benefit to citizens. This is extremely problematic and disconcerting considering there is a taking of resources from ordinary citizens and licensing them to private businesses.

I have the same trouble with the PennEast assertions that this is good for our area.  There are assertions that the pipeline will have enough capacity to service “4.7 million homes” in the area.   This is a nonsense statistic.  According to the U.S. census bureau there are only 3,186,418 households in the entire state of NJ and 4,958,427 in all of PA.  Does PennEast really expect us to believe this one pipeline is going to power the equivalent of 57% of all the households in the two states?

Of course not all households are served by natural gas, and households aren’t the only consumers.

So let’s go to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s page and see what actual energy use in PA and NJ is:

NJ Monthly natural gas usage

PA Monthly natural gas usage

These graphs show the monthly usage breakdown for each in millions of cubic feet. Unfortunately they only do states, not regions, so we can only get the entire state breakdown. For reference the PennEast pipeline will deliver one billion cubic feet a day, so divide the table’s numbers by 30 (avg days in a month) to see how they compare to PennEast’s production.

NJ’s peak usage across all categories was 1.6 billion cubic feet a day.
PA’s peak usage across all categories was 2.9 billion cubic feet a day.

For a total of 4.5 billion cubic feet a day.

This mean’s the PennEast pipeline has enough natural gas flowing through it to supply more than 20% of both states natural gas needs combined.

Now shrink those numbers down to “Eastern PA and central NJ”, as PenNEast claims they’ll be helping, and this number climbs in excess of 100% of the total natural gas usage in the region.

Do you still believe PennEast is going to be using this natural gas in just our region? Or do you suspect – as I and many people do – that PennEast is going to send this to a Liquid conversion plant for shipping overseas (where gas is much more expensive)?

Michael’s full comments are available here

Michael’s full comments – Alternate Site

Dreaming of daylilies…

The submission from Emma in Stockton below was one of the reasons I started this web site. It shows the costs of this pipeline go beyond material costs and environmental impacts.

This is my husband, Brant Switzler. Can you see the joy in his face? This is his DREAM. He has spent years cultivating a daylily farm. He has hand planted thousands of flowers, 350 different varieties that will all have to be moved if the Penn East’s pipeline permit is granted. This is NOT just a DITCH to be dug. This is a LIFE”S WORK. Please…

Please do visit the link below to see a picture of Brant and his humongous daylily plot…

Emma and Brant’s Daylilies – FERC Generated PDF

Emma and Brant’s Daylilies – FERC Generated PDF ALternate Site

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