Photographing the pipeline route, Part I

On Thursday I grabbed my trusty Sony Alpha DSLR, my phone, a notebook and pen, hopped into my pickup truck and set off on a quest to photograph as much of the pipeline route as I could.

I only made it to Frenchtown, but along the way I got some great shots of where the pipeline will be going through. Hopefully I’ll get through more this weekend.

I’ll be submitting the whole thing to the FERC in batches as I document it so they can see some of the sensitive areas the pipeline’s going through.

All pictures are also links to larger copies.

This first batch covers my immediate home area in West Amwell NJ and next door in Hopewell, NJ. I’ll continue to do these roughly 10 pictures at a time.

You can see the entire set in my flickr album here.

I wrote down the picture number of each shot along with its location in my notebook so I had a record of which shot was which. In total there are 157 just from this one trip so I’m glad I did!

Horse farm on Hewitt Road

This is the horse farm across the street from my property. From what I hear the owner has been negotiating with PennEast and will be granting them an easement. The pipeline will be going around his house and barn but will tear up a lot of his fields where the horses currently graze. I’m not sure what he’s going to do with them during construction. The pipeline route will be next to the high voltage electrical towers.

Hewitt Road Crossing Driveway
On this shot you can see where the pipeline route (along the high voltage power lines) is crossing across my neighbor’s driveway. There’s a lot of this around here unfortunately, not sure what my neighbors are supposed to dow with their houses during construction.

New house on Hewitt Road
This is a new house my neighbors built about a year ago. It doesn’t show up on google maps yet so PennEast may not be aware of them. They have an adorable hound dog named Brody and just had a little baby shortly after they moved in. The pipeline is is slated to cut across their property.

Hewitt Road looking south
Here I’m looking down the pipeline route along the wires, it shows where the route will cut my neighbor’s driveway and then head down the side of goat hill, which is somewhat steep.

Hunting area on Goat Hill Road
This area is owned (or maybe leased, not sure) by a hunting group. The pipeline route goes right through their staging area where they park their trucks before heading out to hunt. I can’t imagine they’re too happy with the pipeline ripping up the area and making it unusable for weeks.

Goat Hill Road looking South
Goat Hill Road has a 90 degree kink in it, this is a shot from that kink looking south along the road and also a very large horse farm. The pipeline route (the electrical towers) will be cutting across their entire farm.

Goat Hill Wider shot of Hunter area
A wider shot of the hunter’s area. That’s my truck in the foreground. The pipeline actually will cross Goat Hill twice (!). Traffic in our area is going to be a mess, the pipeline is cutting across all of our major roads. After Sandy it was a nightmare to get anywhere due to trees down. I wonder if this pipeline is going to be as bad or even worse for getting around.

Goat Hill Closeup looking south
A zoomed in view of southern view. About halfway down this route the pipeline route will take a sharp left towards Baldpate Mountain.

Goat Hill, another zoomed shot
If you look through the tree on the left, in the distance you’ll see snow lines on the traprock quarry. The pipeline is going to be fairly close to that quarry, where they regularly do blasting.

Goat Hill Road, looking west
This is down the road a bit, on Goat Hill looking to the west towards the Delaware river. The Delaware’s only about 1.8 miles from here, all down hill. So if they’re not careful tailings from the blasting and digging during construction will flow right down into the river.

As with just about every farm and large tract of land in this area, there are “Posted” signs everywhere. Given the proclivity for hunting and property rights around here I’d suggest PennEast not try to trespass anywhere!

Issues with routing

Ned from Easton, PA writes to the FERC pointing out how bad the PennEast pipeline route is – and how easy it would be to fix it.

We are opposed to the PennEast pipeline project, and we call on the FERC to return a “no action” judgment for many unwise engineering decisions the company appears poised to make.

For example, how many interconnects does PennEast truly need with Transco/Columbia Gas pipeline in Williams and Lower Saucon Townships, Northampton County? The so-called Hellertown Lateral which hugs the northern side of Interstate 78’s west-bound lane from milepost 69.0 to its terminus in the existing city gate facility on the Hellertown- Raubsville Road, would, if built, provide an Interconnect between PennEast’s proposed system and Transco/Columbia Gas system. That being the case, why is a second Interconnect planned nearby at milepost 71.4 on land tract P9-7-13? Furthermore, with two Interconnects proposed within 4.5 miles of each other, why does PennEast need a separate right- of-way to connect those points (meaning the ROW as currently proposed to run from milepost 69.0 to 71.4)? Why not co-locate with the existing Transco/Columbia pipeline at least between these interconnection points which they plan to link? The second Transco Interconnect (the one proposed near milepost 71.4) is in remote, steeply sloped, inaccessible terrain more than 1500 feet from the nearest highway and, as proposed, will require construction of a dedicated access road to construct and to service it. The one at the western end of the Hellertown lateral is 10 ft from a major highway (the Hellertown-Raubsville Road) and has a truck- suitable entrance. Why can’t this Interconnect serve any gas cross-over needs between PennEast and Transco/Columbia?

Cannot FERC see that with poor judgments in planning such as this — and with the countless other engineering deficiencies, environmental challenges, and destruction of cultural/native peoples’ habitats as pointed out by numerous other commenters — that this entire PennEast Pipeline project is an unmitigated disaster? As noted above we urge a “no action” solution or, less preferably, a re-routing of the ROW from milepost 69 onto the Hellertown lateral with subsequent co-location on the Transco/Columbia ROW to reach tract P9-7-13 at presently designated milepost 71.4 and beyond.

See Ned’s submission below:

Ned from Easton PA – FERC Generated PDF

Ned from Easton PA – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

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.

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