David and Merete in Pennington, NJ

David and Merete write to the FERC:

As residents of Hopewell Township, New Jersey who would be directly affected by the proposed PennEast pipeline from Luzerne County, PA to the Transco terminus north of Trenton, NJ, we voice our most strenuous objections to PennEast’s plans and its pre-filing for FERC approval. As proposed by PennEast, the pipeline would run through our property and within 100 feet of our home, and would result in the irreparable destruction of acres of hundred+-year old forest on and adjacent to our
property. Furthermore, the planned pipeline would follow a path taking it through a certified preserved wetlands area to the south of our property that are home and a waystation for migratory birds—green and blue heron and snowy egrets, among others. Those wetlands would be destroyed by pipeline construction.

The pipeline would destroy the local environment, which is the principal reason most residents of our township, including ourselves, chose to live here. No financial remuneration from the taking of our property could ever adequately compensate us for that loss. All local authorities in our and adjacent townships have formally objected to the pipeline. As you consider the PennEast proposal, you must urge PennEast to find an alternative to the proposed route that minimizes environmental damage, such as an existing right-of-way, or deny permission to build.

I remain amazed that PennEast thinks it’s OK to run a 3′ wide high pressure natural gas pipeline within a hundred feet of someone’s house, let alone through wetlands and protected water ways.

Their submission is below:

David and Merete’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

David and Merete’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

More on Baldpate Mountain

C. Sharyn Magee, President of the Washington Crossing Audubon Society, wrote to the FERC backing up the formal submission from her organization:

Because of the extreme ecological sensitivity of Baldpate Mountain, Washington Crossing Audubon Society opposes routing the PennEast pipeline through the JCP&L power line cut that bisects Baldpate
Mountain. An outlier of the Sourland Mountains, Baldpate Mountain contains some of the richest biodiversity in New Jersey. Southern and northern species meet at Baldpate, enriching the flora and fauna. Due to the high quality habitat and the mingling of southern and northern species, Baldpate Mountain has the highest concentration of breeding Neotropical migrants in New Jersey. The thirty-one Neotropical breeding breeding species include thirteen warblers and the Yellow-breasted Chat, two tanagers, three vireos and two Catharus thrushes. Four species are Audubon Watchlist species and twenty-three species are ranked by the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) as birds of conservation concern. An additional 1 39 species use Baldpate Mountain as a migratory stopover in spring and fall or are winter or permanent residents.

Because Baldpate Mountain is long and narrow, it is highly sensitive to disruption from activity on the power line cut that bisects the forest lengthwise. Of special concern is noise from blasting and construction that would penetrate deeply into the forest, interfering with vocal communication between birds at a critical time during the breeding season.

Extending the width of the power line cut would destroy or degrade adjacent breeding habitat along the length of the mountain. Because Baldpate breeding territories are saturated, these birds cannot move further back into the interior forest if disturbed. There is no place for the displaced birds to go. Blue- winged and Chestnut-sided Warblers, species of conservation concern that breed at the forest-power line ecotone, would be especially affected.

The blasting necessary to penetrate the extremely hard diabase substrate has the potential to affect the springs that feed the creeks that originate on Baldpate, disrupting their flow and the animals that depend on them, including the breeding Louisiana Waterthrush, a species of conservation concern.

Given the ecological sensitivity cf Baldpate Mountain, the power line cut should have never been placed there. A through biological inventory and environmental impact statement would dearly show why. The damage to Baldpate should not be compounded by allowing PennEast access for their pipeline.

To get an idea of what’s being described, here’s a google Earth terrain view of the pipeline route going through Baldpate Mountain:

As you can see the pipeline route is cutting right through the preserve along the power line easement – an easement that will also probably have to be widened. You can also see the how the route doesn’t bother to avoid steep slopes but instead just barrels along in a straight line up and down the mountain.

Due to the composition of the bedrock that makes up the Sourland mountains, including Baldpate, PennEast building crews would likely have to blast along much of the route, particularly on the slopes. This will compound the damage significantly both in terms of immediate ecological damage and long term issues such a worsening runoff from rain storms.

A mile or two away from Baldpate we also have the Swan Creek Reservoir, which serves as a primary source of drinking water for Lambertville, NJ. As with Baldpate, there are very steep slopes in this area that would likely require blasting. Take a look at where the pipeline route is in relation to the reservoir:

In fact, Google Earth shows that the pipeline study corridor is less than 200 feet from the reservoir:

Can you imagine blasting into bedrock and then custom welding a 3′ wide high pressure gas pipeline a couple of hundred feet from a drinking water reservoir?

C. Sharyn Magee – FERC Generated PDF

C. Sharyn Magee – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

What it means to be a rural community

Simon from NYC grew up in West Amwell, NJ, and his parents still live there. he writes:

Municipal Open Space, Farmland and Recreation and Preservation Trust Fund

West Amwell Township, my picturesque and rural home, has set up the above trust fund to conserve the inherent rural and farmland character of our community. Voters CHOSE THIS. My parents, along with other community members, PAY A TAX TO PRESERVE OUR RURAL COMMUNITY. The Penn East pipeline has targeted preserved lands for its profitable pipeline project. OUR COMMUNITY DOES NOT WANT OR SUPPORT THIS PIPELINE ON OUR PERSERVED LAND.

I don’t know if people rural just how rural and picturesque this area is. It’s an amazing combination of hills, lowlands, forests, farms, and of course the Delaware River that makes it profoundly beautiful. Here’s some shots of areas where the pipeline will be coming through:

Sunset on Woodens Lane. West Amwell, NJ.

Hewitt Road. West Amwell, NJ.

Farm on Hunter Road. West Amwell, NJ.

Looking towards Fiddler’s Creek. West Amwell, NJ.

Howell Living History Farm. Hopewell Township, NJ.

Near Moore’s Creek. Hopewell Township, NJ.

Fox on Hewitt Road. West Amwell, NJ.

Alpaca Farm on Woodens Lane. West Amwell, NJ.

Howell Living History Farm. That’s Baldpate Mountain in the distance.

The Hexenkopf Slopes

Linda from Easton, PA wrote a submission to the FERC that focuses specifically on the Hexenkopf Slopes in PA:

My example is a land mass called Hexenkopf Slopes, a 1.6 billion year old (pre-Cambrian granitic) formation that houses not only Hexenkopf Rock (which is not directly threatened) but acres of forest, wetlands, and steep slopes surrounding it. This area provides a microcosm of a host of issues.
Forest impact: fragmentation of forest will occur when the pipeline, as projected, will move through Hexenkopf Slopes, a unique area cited by Lehigh Valley Planning Commission as an “important natural area.” In this one place (of the MANY places to which PA and NJ residents have alerted you) an estimated 3 Acres of trees will have to be cut (= oxygen for 54 people for a year); in addition, thanks to chemical herbicides in the trench, many nearby trees will die as well. Trees contribute heavily to reducing the carbon dioxide produced by human activity by converting it to the oxygen we breathe. Forests reduce storm water runoff and erosion as well as wind damage.

The steep slopes: the pipeline must drop from an escarpment on the Slopes down a 30% grade to private properties below, which are already subject to a runoff and erosion due to a prior pipeline (the Columbia gas line). With the removal of additional trees and the extreme disturbance of soil — drilling through rock, digging the pipeline route, and compaction of soil from heavy machinery – the erosion and runoff will be extremely exacerbated. During the storms of 2005, 2006, and 2012 runoff was so heavy it drove piles of loose stones from an access road off onto the very busy Raubsville Rd. and onto the farmland across Raubsville Rd. Trees intercept gallons and gallons of water, preventing flash flooding. Once this 100-foot wide track is compacted, runoff will not be able to be stopped. The effects will be cumulative and permanent. Our downhill neighbors’ residences will be horribly damaged.

To make matters worse, the Hexenkopf tracts through which the line passes have been preserved under Open Space programs with the County and the Township; the pipeline thus obviates the will of the people in preserving a natural climate-controlling carbon dioxide-to-oxygen mechanism. This is an unlawful taking by a private company for its own profit-making purposes and renders the land virtually worthless.

The forest is home to flora and fauna that will lose habitat because no tree is permitted to grow on the right of way, and studies show that invasive plants are the flora that manage to live on such disturbed soil. Native fauna do not eat the invasives. A study of the impact on native- dwelling and migratory birds and other wildlife needs to be made to assure they are not adversely impacted.

With the blasting that will be required to bring a 36” diameter pipe over a granite outcropping and down a 30% grade, there can be untold damage to groundwater/aquifers in the region, aquifers that feed local wells. A very large percentage of the population of Williams Township derives their water from wells or springs. And where would all the rocks from the blasting be placed? On areas where even those piles kill the protective vegetation that has grown there for thousands of years?

Wetlands on the edges of the Slopes suffer irremediable damage when heavy machines that need refueling or lubrication plow through the habitat of many microfauna, fauna, and birds and when additional space is taken for “temporary workspace.” Springs once destroyed cannot be resuscitated. Endangered species, such as the bog turtle, that lose habitat cannot be resuscitated either.

One of the headwaters of Fry’s Run, a High Quality-Cold Water Fishery and a Migratory Fishery and a tributary to the Delaware River, emanates from the northern base of Hexenkopf Slopes. Disturbance of this water source would further affect a stream that has achieved high quality status.
The cultural and historical remnants of early indigenous peoples have been treated by other speakers.

This one segment of the route encompasses a host of challenges which lead to the conclusion that this pipeline is totally inappropriate. We ask FERC to deny this application for a project that brings no benefit to the people of Williams Township but does inflict horrendous destruction that can never be remedied.

You’ll hear similar stories of other unique areas along the pipeline route that have their own problems – for example I highlighted a post earlier from the Washington Crossing Audubon Society about the threats to Baldpate Mountain, another unique preserved piece of land threatened by the pipeline.

Read Linda’s full submission below:

Linda from Easton PA – FERC Generated PDF

Linda from Easton PA – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

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

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