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.

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

Pressuring home owners to sign their rights away

Scott in Lehighton PA has a disturbing story:

In addition, I would like to let you know that about one week after we received our certified letter and barely had enough time to figure out what was going on, PennEast sent out a representative that came to my house early one Saturday morning. He wanted me to sign off on the easement rights to my property. When I began to question him, he had absolutely no answers to any of my questions. He did however state that I should sign off on my easement rights because most of my neighbors had already done so. Upon questioning my neighbors none of them told me that they had signed off on there easement rights. Therefore, I was lied to by PennEast Pipelines representative for the gain of the company. This seems to me to be unethical and unscrupulous business practices and should be addressed directly by you to them.

His full comments are available here:

Scott from Lehighton – FERC Generated PDF

Scott from Lehighton – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

The importance of accurate maps

Laura from Easton PA has noted that PennEast has offered very confusing information about exactly where they’re considering to run the pipeline, and that the maps they’re using in particular are bewildering.

Maps of the proposed route provided by PennEast are STILL insufficient.
A neighbor told me yesterday that she JUST got a letter from PennEast as a stakeholder. The only map she’s seen does not show that the pipeline would go through her property.

Every map is different. Some are topographical, some are GIS, none show street names. I’m not sure how the public is supposed to interpret these maps. PennEast is not even trying to be cooperative. The intentionally mislead and confuse.

FERC should insist on consistent, readable maps from PennEast that actually show stakeholders and the public where they intend the pipeline to go. In addition to confusing people about their own properties, these maps make it impossible to make determinations for FERC’s upcoming environmental and historical scoping meetings.

I’ve thought precisely the same thing. The initial maps shown by PennEast were just topo maps with no easy way to tell how it correlated to people’s homes and places around them. They eventually gave a google-maps based map of the proposed corridor, but limited the zoom significantly so it was hard to tell exactly where it was.

Even the value of that map has been diminished because the PennEast inexplicably keeps alternating between the original November route and the January route. Depending when you go there you could get either route. And that’s a big deal because the routes are substantially different, particularly in New Jersey – the difference can be measured in miles.

Luckily the source google maps file (called a KMZ file) WAS available on their site, which I’ve linked to here:

January 2015 proposed pipeline route

Laura’s FERC submission is below for reference:

Laura from Easton PA – FERC Generated PDF

Laura from Easton PA – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Energy executive says “Not in my backyard!”

Mary Jean of Upper Black Eddy, PA has a real eye-opener of a comment to the FERC:

I already have the Transco Pipeline next to my back yard, within 1000 feet of my home, and I don’t want any other pipelines near my home. I certainly don’t want the Penn East pipeline to be situated within 50 foot of my residence. It is interesting to me that Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, a proponent of the natural gas rush, would agree with me. Although he is a proponent of the natural gas industry, he’s not too keen on having natural gas facilities, even a benign fresh water tower, near his home. He joined a lawsuit stating that such a tower would ruin the aesthetics and hurt his property value. I quote: “The construction of the water tower will create a constant and unbearable nuisance on those who live next to it.” The lawsuit goes into great detail to lay out the problems experienced by those who are subjected to fracking operations. To be clear, he thinks that it is fine for industrial gas facilities to be built near other people’s homes – he just doesn’t want one near his home. For the record, after receiving much negative publicity for hypocrisy, Mr. Tillerson dropped out of the lawsuit – but his friends and neighbors will carry the lawsuit forward. My family and I do not want additional pipelines and the processing facilities that pipeline necessitate – like compressor stations, metering stations, and glycol dehydration plants like the problematic Chapin station just across the border in Wyoming County.

Her full comments are here:

Mary’s comments – FERC Generated PDF

Mary’s comments – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Farmland owned for seven generations threatened by the pipeline

Harriet and Charlie from Sergeantsville NJ own a famous farm in Hunterdon county. They write:

My mother and I own 2 farms at 722 and 740 on route 604, in Rosemont, NJ. Ours were the first 2 farms to go into farmland preservation in the state. The Fisher family has lived here for 7 generations. Our two farms have around 200 acres of farmed land which is part of a remarkably beautiful farmscape comprising the Rosemont Valley. Our farm is designated to have the Penn East pipeline going right through it. It has been photographed for the Hunterdon phone book cover, state maps, Somerset/Hunterdon/Mercer Atlas, the county brochure and there is a huge photograph of it as a mural on the lobby wall of the Hunterdon Medical Center Hospital. Artists have painted our farm hundreds of times. This view has appeared on many places of honor exactly because of its unspoiled and quickly vanishing old fashion farm/agrarian appeal. The pipeline will be going right through the most beautiful rural and farming vista in the county and thus spoiling this beautiful farmscape. This pipeline undoes 50 years of all the conservation efforts which have gone into saving this federally designated historic and rural Rosemont Valley.

The fishers wanted to preserve these farms and this way of life. It was a monetary sacrifice because we could have subdivided and sold building lots for much profit but instead we saved our farms and open space for all future generations. We certainly did not do this so a pipeline could go through it!
The Audubon bird society comes regularly to monitor the birds on our farm. We have endangered grassland birds because we initiated a federal program for grassland birds these pass 10 years. We have planted grasses specifically for these birds and protect their nesting grounds as well as building and monitoring bird boxes.

The Audubon says we now have some rare birds such as the bobolink and kestrels to name a few. We have hundreds of snow geese which land here to rest as they migrate.

This protected area specifically designed for endangered species of birds is where the pipeline is to be located

As a farmer, I know that the pipeline will interfere with my farming and cause irreversible soil erosion.

This is an affront to all farmers who have trusted in the State and federal programs to save land in perpetuity.

This farm is so beautiful that a mural of it is hanging in the Hunted Medical Center. And PennEast wants to run a pipeline through it. Somehow I doubt that will improve its appeal…..

There submission is below:

Harriet and Charlie – FERC Generated PDF

Harriet and Charlie – FERC Generated PDF Alternate site

Maybe the pipeline will miss your property….or maybe you’ll lose everything

Charles from Albrightsville PA has been told that the pipeline will probably just miss his property. Or it might run right through his house. PennEast isn’t sure but will (eventually, we hope) let the gentleman know their decision.

I am a landowner whose house and property are within the 400 foot wide zone of consideration for the proposed PennEast natural gas pipeline along North Old Stage Road in Albrightsville, PA just South of Hickory Run State Park. I have discussed the proposed route several times with several representatives of PennEast.

While those representatives have indicated that the route may not cross my property, their questioning of my future negotiability for land easement purposes indicates to me that they have not yet ruled out such a location.

I am concerned that the route will cross my property in an area that is currently occupied by my house, two garages, two potable wells, a septic field and various valuable trees and under which are two natural aquifers. In addition, the currently proposed route will parallel two existing petroleum pipelines closely enough that an explosion or fire of any will necessarily result in the involvement of all, the results of which would be catastrophic for any nearby homes. Coupled with loss of view of our wonderful wooded area and loss of value of our land, this pipeline project will ultimately have a severely detrimental effect on the residents’ environment.

His full comments are available at one the links below:

Charles PA – FERC Generated PDF

Charles PA – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Link