March 30 2015 Route Changes

As some are aware, PennEast changed their route yet again in March 2015. The route is mostly the same but there are a few areas that have significant changes. This post shows the changes in the route between the January 2015 and March 2015. I do this by showing both routes in a Google Earth view. The blue shaded area is the new March route, the pinkish-purple area is the January 2015 route. Both are showing the 400′ survey corridor. The construction corridor will shrink down to 100′ (with many exceptions being bigger!), and the final easement being 50′.

West Amwell, NJ
The only change of note in West Amwell is in the area of Hewitt Road in the southern part of the township.

Here’s an overview of the area surrounding the change. Remember blue is the new route, pinkish is the old one:

This is the so-called Goat Hill area of West Amwell. Lambertville is to the North West, the Mercer County/Huntertdon County line is the near horizontal line near the bottom of the screenshot.

And here is a zoom in of the affected properties. Note that the white lines outline each parcel so you can see exactly where it is relative to property lines:

PennEast said this change was done to avoid a new house that was built a couple of years ago around 38 Hewitt Road. So now instead it includes two new houses in the survey corridor – 30 Hewitt and 32 Hewitt (mine, gulp).

The new route now runs through more historical quarry holes to the north west of Hewitt Road, and also runs into extensive west lands to the SouthEast of my property at 32 Hewitt.

This 3D view shows how much worse this new route is. It now has the pipeline going down a steeper slope. In addition, the yellow lines show where there are extensive wetlands. First there is a shelf that runs parallel to Hewitt Road that the pipeline will cut right across. The pipeline then continues into a lowlands area that is also all wetlands (the yellow-line area that is devoid of trees in the imagery).

Holland/Milford area
The next change is in either Holland Township or Milford (not 100% sure which). This change brings the pipeline route closer to the Milford bluffs, which has gotten quite a few residents in the area up in arms. It also includes the new lateral route to the Gilbert generating station. Here’s the overview:

Here’s a closeup of the route changes going across Spring Garden Road. It’s now going through the property of 100 Spring Garden Road and 163 Spring Garden Road. And as I noted above it’s now closer to the Milford bluffs along the Delaware, a highly sensitive region ecologically.

Curious why they call them the Milford “bluffs”? Here’s why:

The bedrock around here comes right to the edge of the Delaware River and then drops down sheer to the water. They are opening up more virgin forest here right near sheer drops into the Delaware. Erosion concerns are very strong here. This is also in the area of high arsenic concentrations. They’ll be blasting and doing their construction in an arsenic hot spot with runoff right into the Delaware River.

And here is a zoom into the Gilbert lateral. 130 Philip’s Road is going to have a very significant impact from this.

Durham, PA area
Moving over to Pennsylvania there’s a small change near Durham Road. I’m not sure what the purpose of this change was.

Old Orchard, PA vicinity
Just north of the Lehigh River there’s a Lowes shopping center next to route 33. PennEast is still running their pipeline right through the middle of their parking lot, disrupting a number of stores that are there (Lowes, Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, Pier 1, Texas Roadhouse Restaurant).

But now they have changed their route to be much closer to the PennDot facilities to the north of the strip mall. The PennDot buildings now seem to be within 50′ of the pipeline construction. This is one of the areas where you can clearly see where the route has to go, 400′ survey corridor be damned, because Route 33 cuts them off to the west. The earth movers are going to be practically kissing the PennDot building.

Incidentally I have pictures of this mall from my traversing the pipeline route (I haven’t published up this far yet). From what I can tell the pipeline is going through the approximate middle of this Texas Roadhouse restaurant:

I wonder how much money these businesses will lose to pipeline construction while they demolish the restaurant and rip up half of the parking lot? Whatever it is it certainly was not factored in to the Drexel study touting PennEast’s financial benefits to the region.

Near Bath, PA
The pipeline route has been moved inexplicably further to the north in the area of Gun Club Road. A couple of houses of unknown addresses on Georgetown Road will now be impacted by the pipeline, along with a separate set of farms from the previous route.

Appalachian Trail
To the northwest the trail diverges significantly for 6 miles to cross the Appalachian Trail at a different point. Originally volunteer trail maintainers of the Appalachian Mountain Club, Delaware Valley Chapter, the AMC, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy all formally proposed to Penn East that they eliminate a new pipeline crossing of the A.T. and utilize instead an existing area of adverse impact (e.g., existing power line, pipeline or similar clearing already in the area). However, instead of choosing such a point PennEast instead simply moved the pipeline route a half mile to the west.  This new location has the same issues as the old one so it’s unclear why PennEast did this.  It’s possible that it’s related to who owns the land, I’m still looking into this aspect.

This change involves lots of new stakeholders and landowners given how long the change is, and the fact that it’s moved laterally over half a mile to the west.

One of the changes is that the route now crosses Applebutter Road near HillCrest lane. The impact on the owners there can only be described as…appalling.

The blue area as always is the new route’s 400′ survey corridor. This is another spot though where we can figure out much more accurately where the pipeline has to go. The only option is between the two houses here. Except the houses themselves are only 121 feet apart (the yellow line between the houses is the Google Earth measuring ruler line). Both properties will be unlivable during construction, and afterwards they won’t just be in the blast zone – they’re basically in the total destruction zone.

The final insult in this area is where the pipeline crosses the Appalachian trail. It’s now been moved from one area of it to about 1/2 mile to the west. But both are pretty equally bad. Basically PennEast is carving brand new cuts into virgin forest for a distance of about two miles. This includes crossing a very high ridge, so we have two steep inclines (one on either side of the ridge). This will badly segment the the forests and open up the area to significantly worse erosion. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Vicinity of Susquehanna River
The last change is just south of the Susquehanna River around SEI Pike Lane. The route now runs through several parcels instead of along the back of one, not sure why.

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

Impact on all-volunteer fire departments an issue

Bernice from Milford brings up many good points, among them a note about the nature of the fire departments in our area. The FERC should take notice:

On a closer to home note, I live in Hunterdon County, a very rural, historic, river town area. We are living on a fault line and had an earthquake a few years ago. We have only volunteer fire departments. I have lived through the Edison and Allentown pipeline explosions. It looks like the end of the world. Last winter, a house that probably would be on the pipeline route, went on fire. Every fire department for miles was there. They got stuck getting up the hill to the house and flagged down my kids in a four wheel drive truck to try to clear a path through the snow. They couldn’t and instead had to help drag hoses toward the fire. Needless to say, the house burned to the ground.

What would happen if a pipeline exploded?


And on an even more personal note, I have wanted to be a farmer all my life. I finally bought a farm with eleven rental units on it, nine years ago. I went through the expense of getting a building lot approved for a farmhouse and paid an architect for drawings. Now there will be a bomb in my front yard when I build. How much value will that house lose? All of it. I am in the process of getting funding from the USDA to start my farm, live in the farmhouse and now the pipeline is putting an end to that. My dream of farming and living on the farm and having a retirement income is all lost for the benefit of PennEast and gas that will never be used by Hunterdon County residents. Not to mention, my eleven tenants are worried about living near a pipeline that they will have to cross everyday.

This is just one persons nightmare from this pipeline. Multiply it by 108 miles of lives. If it gets approved, why can’t we be paid fairly for what we are losing? Please deny them permission so I can get on with my future hopes and dreams to just live safely and farm on MY LAND.

I know in my town and the surrounding areas fire departments always have a tough time getting funding. They’re mostly volunteers. They’re always fighting for equipment. It took years for West Amwell to finally get modern radios, which help keep firemen safe when they’re entering burning buildings. Every year we get a note from wafco26 ( asking for money, which we gladly donate to every year. We’re all on wells which means no hydrants. Towns routinely help each other when disasters occur but they can only stretch so much. If a 3′ pipeline ruptured I believe it would be far beyond our local fire department’s ability to handle.

Maybe that $5,000 PennEast is donating to organizations will help? Well let’s see, just the radios I mention above cost more than $5,000 in total cost. So I don’t think it’s going to make all that big of a difference. A single fire truck costs more than $100,000……

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

Pipelines and fault lines don’t mix

I didn’t know we have earthquakes in NJ, but apparently we do. Laura from Milford, NJ writes:

I am opposed to the PennEast Pipeline on the grounds that its route is directly over the largest fault line in NJ, the Ramapo fault, where there have been four recorded earthquakes in the last decade.

The strongest of these, on August 26, 2003, at magnitude 3.8, “was felt by residents with high intensity,” according Won-Young Kim, senior research scientist at Columbia University –

The pipeline industry has made no real progress in improving pipeline safety in the event of an earthquake. A recent article in the Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, entitled, “Seismic vulnerability of gas and liquid buried pipelines” reported:

“In the past, pipelines have been shown to suffer heavy damages when loaded by seismic actions. And yet, despite the evolution in the anti- seismic techniques and the progress in the seismic design, relevant damages to pipelines are still being observed.”

This bodes ill for land and water quality in the vicinity of the proposed pipeline.

Her FERC submission is here:

Laura from Milford – FERC Generated PDF

Laura from Milford – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

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.