Alternatives not seriously considered

Pamela of West Amwell wrote a tour-to-force submission to the FERC objecting to the pipeline and the procedures being followed in its review.

Pamela of West Amwell – FERC Generated PDF

Pamela of West Amwell – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Pamela points out in particular that PennEast there are many good alternatives to the proposed pipeline route, and they simply are not taking those alternatives seriously. It’s a dense, information packed essay that I urge you to read in full. This one section really caught my eye though:

2) The Transco Alternative as proposed has less potential for impacts in a majority of the CIA categories. It is understood that the Transco Alternative as proposed does not provide the same connectivity benefits as the Preferred Alternative and would need modification prior to impact assessment; however, in the absence of well-developed Transco Alternative(s) that would meet connectivity needs, my comments reference the Transco Alternative as presented.

A comparison of the Critical Issues Analysis (CIA) items in Tables 10-2 and 10-7 shows that the Transco Alternative has less potential impacts within its 400-foot study corridor than the Preferred Alternative. The Transco Alternative:

– Crosses one less municipality;
– Fewer streams;
– Fewer cold water fishes/fewer warm water fishes;
– Fewer naturally producing trout waters;
– Fewer Non-Chapter 93 Designated Streams;
– Fewer Category 1 Streams;
– 26 less acres of NWI wetlands within its corridor;
– Fewer centerline crossings of NWI wetlands;
– Fewer wells;
– 777 less acres of CNHI-designated habitat (Core Habitat/Supporting Landscapes);
– Zero acres of Natural Heritage Priority Sites (compared to 3 acres for the Preferred Alternative);
– 15 less acres of wellhead protection area within its corridor;
– Zero acres within the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission Review Zone B (compared to
669 with the Preferred Alternative);
– 225 less acres of State Parks (PA) within its corridor (6 acres compared to 231 with the Preferred
Alternative);
– 58 less acres of State Game Lands (PA);
– 203 less acres of NJ Farmland Preserved Parcels;
– 18 less acres of Agricultural Security Areas;
– Zero acres of Karst (PA) (compared to 197 acres within the Preferred Alternative); and,
– Lower percentage of wetland acres within its corridor

Co-location isn’t magic fairy dust

An original criticism of the PennEast project was that it was 0% “co-located” in NJ. That is, it cut a brand new path through virgin territory. The preferred approach is to co-locate a new pipeline along an existing easement to reduce the environmental impact.

That’s all well and good, but co-location isn’t magic. Problems just don’t disappear because you co-located your pipeline. This is especially true when you mix and max utilities. Co-locating two pipelines next to each other may make sense. Putting a pipeline along a high tension power line route….hmm, maybe not so much.

Brian from West Amwell explains why:

1. PennEast’s proposed route has been chosen to follow alongside existing right away electric utility easements with little regard to homeowners along those existing easements. There are quite of few houses with smaller yards (1 to 3 acres) in our neighborhood which run along the electric utility easements. Just so PennEast can say that they are following along current easements, they will attempt to squeeze the pipeline through our neighborhood regardless how close our homes are and how much more land we will end up losing for another right away. Just because it is running alongside a current easement doesn’t mean it is the best path. This proposed plan has not taken into account proximity to homes, woodlands, wetlands, and historic sites, etc. that are in its path. This plan does not appear to be well planned or thought out. Basically, they are just blindly following alongside an electric utility easement without regard.

2. I also believe PennEast is not dealing with property owners in good faith. PennEast hosted a dinner where homeowners could look at map models of the 400 foot study corridor. I was invited to the meeting as a homeowner who was supposedly in the 400 foot study corridor. At the dinner, they showed me on the map that my property is no longer in the 400 foot study corridor, yet I was still pressured at the dinner to consent to have my property surveyed. I was even called after the event by the same person asking for a survey. First I’m in the study corridor and then I’m not in the 400 foot study corridor, but they still need me to consent to a survey.

His submission is here:

Brian from West Amwell – FERC Generated PDF

Brian from West Amwell – FERC Generated PDF Alternate site

South Hunterdon School District Opposes the pipeline route

Does it make sense to have a billion cubic feet of natural gas flowing a few hundred feet away from a school?

Guess what – the South Hunterdon School district doesn’t think it’s such a hot idea either:

South Hunterdon School District – FERC Generated PDF

South Hunterdon School District – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Attached is a resolution that the South Hunterdon Regional School District Board of Education passed at its meeting on December 22, 2014; Please take notice, the Board of Education opposes the proposed route of the Penn East Pipeline, or any alternate route that would place any of the facilities of the South Hunterdon Regional School District (listed below) or its busing routes, within the pipeline’s Potential Impact Radius”

There’s good news and bad news here. The good news is that the pipeline was originally slated to pass within 630 feet of the high school, but with the alternate route published in January 2015 that increased to over 9,000 feet.

The bad news is that it’s only 1,500 feet from West Amwell Elementary school.  Here’s a google earth view of the pipeline corridor near the school:

1,500 feet from the school!

As a bonus the ESC school is right across the street from West Amwell Elementary.

So there’s the good and bad.  And now here’s the ugly:

138 feet from Hewitt Park!

As the snapshot shows the pipeline survey corridor is less than 150 feet from the entrance of Hewitt Park!  This is a park that’s used in the spring, summer, and fall for baseball and soccer games by elementary schools in the area.