Illegal trespass

I think from context that Mark and Maureen from Frenchtown are related to the college student who’s submission I highlighted in a prior post, possibly parents?

They have a whole lot of issues with PennEast, the proposed route, and the conduct of the PennEast representatives:

Our family Supports under no uncertain terms the NO BUILD option for health, environmental and economic reasons. This proposed pipeline will sever our working family farm in half and will run the full width of our farm property and pass within 200 feet of our home and well.

Our concerns include and are not limited to:

1)Blasting could facilitate contamination of our well water with arsenic, radon and other toxins. This affects not only human drinking water consumption but our farm animal water consumption; in addition, contaminating our bathing water and watering of our organic vegetable and flower gardens.

2)Our home and farm animal barns are within the blast zone.

3)The pipeline path is positioned to follow our farm field drainage route causing re-direction of this natural storm water/snow melt run off, in addition, crossing cultivated prime agricultural soils. These soils are highly erodible and shallow.

4)This pipeline corridor encompasses very steep (greater than 45 %) ledge, crosses over Nishisakawick Creek (bedrock stream bed) and adjacent wetlands to the creek; in addition this pipeline will cross another small tributary to the Nishisakawick Creek that feeds our pond used for swimming, fishing, (large established plant, amphibian and water fowl populations located here)

5)This pipeline will cross historic original route 12 severely compromising existing macadam roadbed.

6)A centuries old, landmark to the farm, oak tree will be taken down to accommodate this pipeline.

7)Within close proximately to the proposed route is a nesting osprey and endangered bats.

8)Our intention was to preserve our farm; this will be impossible if this pipeline goes through. Sale of our farm in the future will be difficult at best and the value of the property will dramatically be compromised.

9)Lastly, we want PennEast and the public to know that our property was surveyed in multiple locations without permission, a state police report was filed, image of a trespasser was captured on trail cam, a metal surveyor box was left on our property (coincidentally under that old oak tree) and survey tape was removed.

In addition to our personal concerns we support all concerns of our neighbors and local New Jersey community officials and neighbors- degradation/devastation to this Delaware River Valley- our water resources and lands, scarring of our treasured open land that locals and visitors enjoy, the conflict of interest in the official studies/surveys to determine the viability of this project, countless stories of trespass, the lack of fair compensation to land owners if this project moves forward to address on-going land use and potential damage to water quality, the unwillingness of PennEast to explore first the option of using existing approved pipeline and power line easement routes, and THE DANGER to humans wild and plant life.

I’ve seen a number of reports of PennEast reps trespassing on people’s lands. They can’t be doing this by accident – there are literally an order of magnitude more “POSTED – NO TRESPASSING” signs in Hunterdon county then there are stop signs.

Their submission is below:

Mark and Maureen’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

Mark and Maureen’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program means nothing to PennEast

Cathy Urbanksi, the chair of the West Amwell Township Environmental Commission, has made another submission to the FERC site.

The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program
“As New Jersey continues to experience industrial and economic growth, it is imperative that we take steps to ensure that remaining areas of natural significance be preserved for their resource potential, their educational and research use, and their aesthetic and cultural values for present and future generations. As we become more aware of our dependence on our natural environment for our well-being and ultimate survival, we must answer one question: how can we best preserve our irreplaceable natural heritage.

The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program identifies the state’s most significant natural areas through a comprehensive inventory of rare plant and animal species and representative ecological communities. From the inventory, the Natural Heritage Database compiles information on the distribution, biology, status, and preservation needs of these species and communities”. (NJDEP)

The Natural Heritage Priority Sites Coverage was created to identify critically important areas to conserve New Jersey’s biological diversity, with particular emphasis on rare plant species and ecological communities.

“Using the Natural Heritage Database, the Office of Natural Lands Management (ONLM) has identified 343 Natural Heritage Priority Sites, representing some of the best remaining habitat for rare species and rare ecological communities in the state. These areas should be considered to be top priorities for the preservation of biological diversity in New Jersey. If these sites become degraded or destroyed, we may lose some of the unique components of our natural heritage.” (NJDEP).

Goat Hill has been designated as a Natural Heritage Priority Site. Goat Hill is the westernmost boundary of the Sourland Mountain. It is a steep, woody diabase hillside and the site contains three state endangered plant species (NJDEP). Any disturbance to the natural environment of this area should be absolutely prohibited. See map, below.

The PennEast preferred alternate route comes dangerously close and actually crosses this Natural Heritage Priority site. Any altercation to this site, whether from pipeline construction, the noxious gasses emanating continuously from the pipeline, possible explosions, or herbicide use, would pose a serious problem to the endangered plants. This area is a priority site for a very good reason.

We request that FERC choose the pipeline option of “no build” in order to preserve our critical ecological and rare communities and our fragile natural environment.

George Fisher, Mayor, West Amwell Township
Cathy Urbanski, Environmental Commission Chair, West Amwell Township

The map described is this one below:

The fat black line is (appropriately) the pipeline route.

This is the important part from their submission:

Goat Hill has been designated as a Natural Heritage Priority Site. Goat Hill is the westernmost boundary of the Sourland Mountain. It is a steep, woody diabase hillside and the site contains three state endangered plant species (NJDEP). Any disturbance to the natural environment of this area should be absolutely prohibited.


West Amwell has an extensive history of preserving land, both for ecological reasons and so we can continue to be a rural township in perpetuity. People like Cathy have been ceaseless in their efforts at preservation. And it isn’t just talk – we spend time and money ensuring the safety of our land.

Take a look at the West Amwell Natural Resource Inventory. The last entry in the document talks about Goat Hill:

The database has identified Natural Heritage Priority Sites that represent some of the best remaining habitat for rare species and exemplary natural communities in the state. These areas should be considered to be top priorities for the preservation of biological diversity in New Jersey. If these sites become degraded or destroyed, we may lose some of the unique components of our natural heritage.

Goat Hill has been designated as a Natural Heritage Priority Site (Figure 19). Goat Hill is the westernmost boundary of the Sourlands. It is a steep, woody diabase hillside and the site contains three state endangered plant species. This site was preserved in its entirety by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Green Acres in 2008. It is now known as Goat Hill Overlook.

My town has been at this for quite some time. Here’s a NJDEP release from 2003 talking about West Amwell’s preservation efforts at that time. It mentions:

Standing with local, state government and community leaders at Fiddler’s Creek Farm, Campbell announced the acquisition of the 197-acre turkey farm located in West Amwell. The preservation of Fiddler’s Creek Farm creates a continuous expanse of preserved land connecting the Delaware River Greenway and the Sourland Mountain Greenway. Fiddler’s Creek Farm consists of forested stream corridor, hayfields and pasture and commands a 360-degree view of the surrounding countryside, the Delaware River and Bowman’s Tower in Pennsylvania. A branch of Moores Creek, which supports 18 species of fish, flows through the property, connecting it to other preserved properties including the Howell Living History Farm and Baldpate Mountain. Delaware & Raritan Greenway, the Green Acres Program Hunterdon County and West Amwell Township were partners in the preservation of Fiddler’s Creek Farm.

Of course it goes without saying that the PennEast pipeline will be going through both Moore’s Creek and Fiddler’s creek.

West Amwell is also hardly alone in these efforts. Every town in Hunterdon has significant conservation programs in place and you see Green Acres, Open Spaces, Preserved Farmland, and D&R Land Trust signs all over the place. We think preserving the land is important. Too bad PennEast doesn’t.

The West Amwell submission is below:

West Amwell NJ – FERC Generated PDF

West Amwell NJ – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

The Nishisakawick Creek

Eric from Frenchtown, NJ writes about the threat the pipeline is to the environment around his home on the Nishisakawick Creek. The story quickly goes from talking about bald eagle citings to mention of a horrific 36″ gas pipeline explosion in the 90s in Edison, NJ:

I have read just about every comment submitted to date, regarding the proposed PennEast pipeline – I’m sure FERC has, as well. Aside from a handful of comments from individuals, ALL of the remarks favoring this project (perhaps a dozen) are from those that will directly profit from it. Utility companies & union representatives are all raving about the public benefit. This is in stark contrast to the hundreds of comments from the land owners, local governments, scientists, environmental groups, and individuals who view this project as a potential disaster. Why?

For the record, I live in Frenchtown, NJ and my home is adjacent to the Nishisakawick Creek. This stream has a C1 classification and for good reason. It is home to many species of animals that are endangered and/or threatened through loss of habitat. Three weeks ago, my wife and I had the pleasure of watching this bald eagle hunting next to our house:

As of 2012, there were only 119 breeding pairs of eagles in the state of NJ. Over the years I have also had the joy of viewing goshawk, bobcat, and corn snakes in our backyard, which are all classified as endangered by the NJDEP. Not to mention, the black bear, owls, heron, fox, coyote, deer, and dozens of other species that make regular appearances during the year. The stream is pristine and FERC should reject the PennEast proposal, out-of-hand, on this basis alone.

However, aside from the huge environmental impact this project will have, I am equally concerned about my family’s safety. Our home is located well within the thermal radius of the pipeline should it rupture. And in spite of all of the assurances from PennEast, NO ONE can erase the memory I have of the Durham Woods pipeline explosion in 1994. The flames were so high, I thought that my neighbor’s house was on fire, yet we were over 25 miles away. If this were to happen in Hunterdon, putting out the ensuing fires would be next to impossible, as our rural community relies on water tanker shuttles. Just how will PennEast handle a massive forest fire fueled by thousands of cubic feet per second of natural gas? Put simply, they can’t.

I took the time to carefully read PennEast’s “Draft Resource Report 1 and Summary of Alternatives.” In my humble opinion, the sections outlining project necessity and project alternatives were inadequate to say the least. According to PennEast’s report, the binding reservations during their “open season” demonstrated the need for this project. This is fallacious, as it only proves that members of the PennEast consortium (Spectra, UGI et al) want access to cheaper natural gas. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the existing pipeline infrastructure in NJ/NY can meet current firm demand without any problem. And recently, FERC has approved many major pipeline improvement projects to address future demand. Expansion projects with expected in-service dates between 2013 and 2015 have or will “add at least 3.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of additional capacity to New York/New Jersey and Mid-Atlantic markets.” These include the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co.’s Leidy Southeast Expansion & Virginia Southside Expansion Projects, Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s Line 300 Expansion, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co.’s Bayonne Delivery Lateral Project, Algonquin Gas Transmission’s Hubline/East to West Project, and Texas Eastern’s Transmission pipeline expansion project from Linden, New Jersey to Manhattan, New York.

New Jersey is already awash in gas transmission pipelines meeting current & future demand, and yet the gas industry insists that we need more. This is complete and utter nonsense and we certainly don’t need to cut across every Category One stream in our state to have another.

The explosion he mentions was written up in the New York times. According to the wikipedia article on the explosion:,_New_Jersey_natural_gas_explosion

…was caused by a rupture in a 36″ natural gas pipeline.  Not too coincidentally, PennEast is a 36″ natural gas pipeline.

Eric’s submission is available below:

Eric’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

Eric’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