Chris and Sherri, 4th Generation Farmers

Chris and Sherri own a farm in Milford, NJ. The pipeline is going right through the middle of it.

We are the 4th generation to be living on our farm and hopefully our children will be the 5th. The pipeline is proposed to be going right through the middle of the property, which now makes it impossible for us to farm the land or for any of our children to build their future home. Our surrounding neighbors all have their land in farmland preservation which is supposed to protect the land. There is a natural spring that runs parallel to our property that will be disrupted. We also have a narrow 9 acre wood lot that is in the projected path. It is densely populated with red oak trees. If they go through that, it will kill many trees and make it look like an open field, which will cause serious erosion. Our woodlot sits in the middle of the Gravel Hill Preserve, which was set aside by the state to preserve and keep the natural beauty of the forest. I can’t see how they can destroy all the protected land around us.

We live in the country because of the beautiful surroundings and the feeling of being safe. With all the recent gas explosions, we don’t want to live with the constant fear that we’ll be next.

Read their submission below:

Chris and Sherri submission – FERC Generated PDF

Chris and Sherri submission – 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:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edison,_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

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

Delaware Township Citizens Against the Pipeline

There are a number of “CAP” organizations (Citizens Against the Pipeline) that have risen up against the PennEast Pipeline since it’s been proposed. One of them is DT-CAP – the Delaware Township chapter. Their submission states:

The Delaware Township Citizens Against the Pipeline, Inc. (DT-CAP) is a New Jersey not-for-profit furthering the following mission:

“To preserve and protect an irreplaceable community rich in farming and historic culture; to prevent the destruction of endangered species’ habitats and fragile watershed ecosystems; to defend our thriving agricultural and recreational economies; to safeguard our citizens’ proactive investment in conserved and preserved farms and woodlands; and to oppose PennEast pipeline as it will irrevocably impact the safety and integrity of our human environment.”

Our constituents include numerous property owners located within the path of the proposed pipeline route identified in PennEast’s January 13, 2015 Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Planned PennEast Pipeline Project, Request for Comments on Environmental Issues, and Notice of Public Scoping Meetings (NOI). Additionally, our constituents include numerous property owners located within the path of the preferred alternative route, submitted to FERC on January 16, 2015. Members of DT-CAP participated in the open meetings conducted by PennEast in Delaware Township on September 29, 2014 and at South Hunterdon High School on November 13, 2014, and have attended additional public meetings and requested further information directly from PennEast regarding this application. Accordingly, DT-CAP is an interested party in this matter and direct notification to DT-CAP is required.

First, please be advised that DT-CAP does not support either the “preferred alternative route” or the proposed original route due to the detrimental impacts both routes will cause to the environment, watershed, local economies, homeowner property rights, and taxpayer investments in the preserved and conserved lands of Delaware Township. DT-CAP opposes any additional natural gas pipelines in Delaware Township.

PennEast has not identified how the pipeline would be located with respect to the existing utility easement within Delaware Township. It is DT-CAP’s understanding that “co-location” is misleading in that the existing electrical utility easement must be widened, and in some locations, the pipeline may be near and not within the existing easement for power lines. Additionally, the existing above-ground utility within this easement is maintained in a different manner than is required for underground pipelines, and does not currently have the subsurface impacts which would occur when locating a pipeline. Therefore, co-location is inadequate to reduce negative environmental impacts. Additionally, the widening or nearby location of the pipeline as well as temporary constructions areas will impact lands currently not utilized for utility easements, and will have negative impacts on groundwater quality, farmland, and numerous additional resource values within Delaware Township. Additionally, the proposed alternative route requires the taking of property rights from property owners not in support of this project.

Second, the location, timing, and number of scoping meetings are inadequate and inconsistent with FERC regulations for the EIS scoping process.

The proposed alternative route has been submitted to FERC on January 15, 2015, only 12 days prior to the one and only scoping meeting to be held in New Jersey and only 28 days prior to the deadline for written comment as stated in the NOI. The January 27, 2015 New Jersey scoping meeting is not situated within the project area. And the announcement for the scoping meeting identifies the original route, with no reference to the proposed alternative route. Landowners and interested parties have not been provided adequate time to evaluate the proposed alternative route. The NOI must be re-issued to identify the proposed route and to provide further opportunity for public input. The coping period must be significantly extended with additional meetings scheduled, including meetings within the project area, and including at least one meeting scheduled in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

DT-CAP and its members are prejudiced by PennEast’s failure to engage in a meaningful opportunity for discussion. PennEast submitted the proposed alternative route after announcing its intent to conduct scoping. PennEast provided inadequate time for scoping and inadequate advance notice of scoping meetings. And PennEast is engaging in scoping without identifying whether there are known safety and engineering constraints which would necessitate a widening of the existing utility easement, which is narrower in Delaware Township than it is in other affected municipalities. These errors cause material prejudice to those interested parties seeking to provide meaningful input during the scoping process.

Their submission is below:

DT-CAP Submission – FERC Generated PDF

DT-CAP Submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

From Brooklyn to Hunterdon

Annalisa from Delaware Township tells of her family moving to NJ to build a better life for themselves.

I am a resident of Delaware Township who is strongly opposed to allowing a 36”, or the newly proposed, 42” natural gas pipeline to be constructed through this precious, preserved area of Hunterdon County. My family and I have lived in Delaware Township since 1959 when my parents purchased 73 acres on Pine Hill Rd for 20,000 dollars. They were working class, first generation Italian-Americans who moved originally from Brooklyn, NY to Princeton, New Jersey, in hopes of building a better life for themselves and their 5 children in the beautiful “Garden” state. Over these 56 years in Delaware TWP, our family members all worked, sold land, in to renovate, as we could afford, our 1725 historic stone home, including an 1850 frame colonial section added to the original structure. Over five decades we have worked to upgrade our home to make it more energy efficient and functional by modern standards. As working- class/struggling middle class citizens, we have farmed, recycled, gardened and otherwise maintained what we can of our remaining property. This gem of bucolic, pristine forest we love, was earned through many personal and economic trials. As members of this community, we are invested in protecting our personal investment, as well as, the community’s rights and investment in maintaining this culturally and ecologically rich, yet delicate, land.

Our family has worked together, repaired, restored and invested our love, bodily strength and hard-earned dollars in maintaining this historic property. The 10 acres of land my family has been able to hold onto is aptly named “The Pines” –pine trees planted by the “Civilian Conservation Corps” in the 1940’s. President Roosevelt’s plan promoted both economic and ecological restoration to our country’s political and physical landscape. Several early American artifacts have been uncovered and proudly displayed upon (rare) hand-hewn chestnut beams and massive jingle stone fire place mantels for all to see. This is but one small, sentimental example of what exists across our historic Hunterdon County. Even though the proposed Penn East Pipeline routes do not appear to directly cut through our land, it is representative of what thousands of citizens hold near and dear to their hearts- and of what could be at risk. We will stand with our fellow citizens to protect their lives, family legacies and lands. We are all the same: Vulnerable to exploitation, marginalization and complete disenfranchisement in this rapidly growing trend to control and ultimately deplete our natural resources, for profit. The financial short-term gains for the very few will bankrupt our ecology, destroy a multitude of wildlife species, denature presently cultivated lands to become unproductive and useless; and, ultimately, to break the spirits of many humans. The Delaware water shed will not continue to maintain balance or be able to continue to supply clean water to millions of households and industries if constant encroachment and depletion of protected lands in our small state escalates. There is also some discussion that the pipeline may actually end up as an overseas project to provide gas to Europe. I do not know this to be fact, but I do believe we must be hyper-vigilant in preparing for such a possibility. Based on the dishonesty and efforts of Penn East interests to this point, I feel we will need unrelenting accountability as the application process moves forward. The magnitude of such a project would further prove that this stretch of damaging pipeline and concomitant interference with geologic, botanic and soil integrity, among the many aforementioned destruction of nature, will serve to prove that our community would be employed simply as means to someone else’s end. Proposing that any large energy company be allowed to ravage the “preserved” and protected farmlands, forest, still –viable natural water supplies, and dwindling species of wildlife native to our small state, is unconscionable. Once again, a few powerful, avaricious players in big business will benefit financially to a level of obscene proportions, while thousands of citizens will lose the values of their own hard-earned investments. Middle class and working class people are still hanging on in this egregiously –bloated economic climate of high taxes, diminished economic returns via employment and cost of living demands. Now, to have a life-time’s worth of toil and careful investment in their piece of the American pie, so to speak, be denatured and devalued, is barbaric.

It is time to invest in cleaner, life and land-preserving energy production and preservation. This historically rich area of New Jersey also serves as a thriving ecosystem and living testament to what our beautiful country can provide for generations to come. We are one community of many who will fall prey to rampant, planet- altering destruction if energy production and delivery is not carefully monitored, regulated and analyzed in service to the long term effects for all.
I would also like to add, that the scoping meetings arranged by the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee for the proposed Penn East pipeline are not located in or near Hunterdon County, across which a majority of the pipeline would be laid, if approved. Our community finds this to be insensitive at best, and wanton disregard, at worst, for the very residents who live in the path of this proposed pipeline. This project could prove to have potentially dangerous and devastating impacts on our community.

My family and I ask that you do not fast-track any scoping or application processes toward potential approval of the Penn East Pipeline. We ask that FERC please address our concerns and arrange for scoping meetings within Hunterdon County.

To give an idea of what Delaware Township is like, here’s a Google image of Lower Creek Road where the pipeline is proposed to go through:

Annalisa’s FERC submission is available below:

Annalisa from Delaware Township – FERC Generated PDF

Annalisa from Delaware Township – FERC Generated PDF Alternate site

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