Nothing says “Home” like a 3 foot wide high pressure gas pipeline…

Sean from West Milford has a similar story to me and my wife.  They came out to the country to alleviate the stress of city working.  Little did they know they’d soon be sharing their sedate lifestyle with a natural gas super highway…

Sean from Millford – FERC Generated PDF

 My property lies directly in the path of the proposed PennEast Pipeline. To be more specific, a hazardous and explosive gas main will be less than 100 yards from the home and mere feet from the well which supplies the tap for myself and my family. I have trouble finding the words to say how outraged I am at the possibility of such action taking place. Beyond the obvious threat to the well being of my family, I am heartbroken at the thought of what this proposed pipeline will do the land.

My wife and I purchased our home to relieve the stress of our city jobs and connect again with nature. We live on 3 acres of wooded land, surrounded by a small creek and backed by preserved woodland. The property abounds with numerous species of wildlife (some rare for these parts) who also call this area home. If the proposition for this pipeline passes, my trees will be leveled, woodland that was previously “preserved” will be decimated, habitat will be destroyed, the creek and our water supply potentially polluted and everything my family and neighbors love about this place we call home will be decimated.

Pipeline Route

The Pipeline route is a work in progress. Check PennEast’s sight regularly for the most recent planned route – they have already changed it significantly once in January 2015, and may do so again. You can see their published route here: Note that this page is a bit wonky and the route shown seems to change back and forth between the November and January versions.

I’ve saved a copy of the January 2015 route in the form of the Google Earth KMZ file they’re using. While the proposed-route link on the PennEast web site is useful, they’ve limited how much you can do with the map. With the raw KMZ file you can load the route into Google Earth (it’s free, go get it!) or within Google maps and see exactly where the route lies in relation to you and sites you’re interested in, measure distances, etc. I’ve uploaded the KMZ file here:

Note that the purple lines are showing a 400′ wide “survey corridor”, the actual pipeline easement could be anywhere within that 400′.  During construction that corridor will shrink to around 100′, and the final easement will be 50′ wide.

Farms owned by families going back to the Revolutionary War

Jeanne’s family has owned several farms in Holland Township for generations.  A LOT of generations – going all the way back to the 1700’s:

Jeanne’s comments – FERC Generated PDF

From her comments:

I am totally against the pipeline and a private company making a profit at my families’ expense by destroying the land in New Jersey Hunterdon County, specifically Holland Township. The route is planned to go through not only my husband’s and brother-in law’s family farms, but also through my original home farm. The Moore farm has been in our family since the 1700s. Our ancestors settled this land and started in a one room house that remains part of the current house today. We have documentation that both my original family and my husband’s ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War as Patriots. My husband’s great grandfather fought for the Union in the Civil War in the 9th NJ regiment. It saddens my family that our heritage is being destroyed, that the labor and sacrifice of our ancestors can be dismissed as if this is not entirely our rightful land. I feel especially violated by having my two family farms devalued and destroyed by a company’s bottom –line when none of this project would benefit the local residents of the area. We do not need to export gas/oil to other countries. The fact that it is going to the freight and shipping city of Trenton makes this clear no matter what the “company line” states. Also, I am now suspicious of the political leaders and their previous efforts to keep “open land” in New Jersey. How much are they to profit from this pipeline being approved on my family land?

Wetlands protected for Five generations threatened by the pipeline

Emma sent a powerful message to the FERC with her comments, linked here:

Emma’s Story – FERC Generated PDF

The power of the story really comes from the pictures – the many generations of her family that have enjoyed a pond that PennEast is now threatening.  The words to accompany those images:

The pain that this pipeline will cause is unimaginable.

It will endanger wildlife and environments that this family has struggled through generations to preserve. We have worked so hard to hang on to this land and ensure it’ existence. Penn East proposes to annhialate it.

This wetland and pond has been protected for five generations.  It originally belonged to my great grandmother, Helen Henderson. Depicted here at THIS pond is my grandmother, Jane Henderson, my brother Dan Macy, my sister,Cara Redmond and me, Emma Angele Switzler, as children, my mother Vaughana Feary as a child with her goats, and my own children, Brant and Alexandra Switzler ice skating on the same pond. My children are now old enough to have children of their own. I am BEGGING you not to destroy my legacy to them and their children!!

Delaware Township farms

Stephanie of Brook hollow farms tells the FERC about the farms and preserved lands her family owns and how the pipeline is going to destroy them:

Stephanie’s comments – FERC Generated PDF

The whole first paragraph is worth repeating here:

We are located in a historic, agricultural and rural federally designated district. It was selected for this designation for its bucolic beauty and history. All the preserved farms and open space in Delaware Township didn’t happen by chance. Locals have been actively and persistently preserving for 50 years to keep this place one of NJ’s crown jewel in its undisturbed shape. My family put my 250 acre farm into farmland preservation & conservation land so it would remain the same in inperpetuity. My sister and I live here with our families and continue their conservation efforts. This land was conserved for the public and not for corporate profit. My parents donated land along the Wickecheoke Creek as a public walking path and the local people have been working to expand that to protect the creek corridor and allow the public to enjoy the woods and creek. Your pipeline goes right thru it. My township has spent decades working to preserve land here and many of us have given a lot of money to do this or taken discounts on land put in preservation. We did not devote all our time and energy so Penn East could destroy that resource. How are you going to mitigate for that? Do you think anyone will want to preserve land now? You have opened the door to increased suburbanization around here which will cost our township its rural character as well as make our tax dollars soar. How do you mitigate?

Not only is my farm protected but the whole view shed will be forever changes.

 She also comments on an issue I’m deeply concerned about, the placement of the pipeline on very steep slopes. We have a lot of slopes in this entire region and clearing them is known to cause all sorts of bad, long term issues.  Stephanie says:

I also have environmental and farmland concerns:
The massive erosion and sedimentation on my steep sloped forest land. The purposed pipeline goes thru wet lands as well on my property. Your standards are so low and unsuited to this kind of landscape. I have seen the photos on the Delaware River keeper webpage of the 300 line in PA which in places has been replanted three times with no success. The damage extends far beyond the ROW. The same with the Highlands line which has eroded down to bedrock in places. What recourse do we have when it doesn’t work? Can you direct me to even one new pipeline site on a steep formerly forested slope that is an example of what you will do here? All I can find are failed examples

About the FERC site

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

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