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

92 year old farmer’s concerns about his land and taxes

George in Moore Township, PA was born on his parent’s farm in 1923. And he still lives there. And PennEast would like to run a pipeline through it…

My parents purchased this farm in March 1920. I was born on this land in 1923 and continue to live on this land; I am 92. Both my parents and I have paid substantial taxes over the years in support of this land. But now my rights to use this land is being threatened by the proposed 36 inch PennEast Pipeline. Yes the stated easement is only 50 foot but who in their right mind would even consider purchasing land within 250 yards of this pipeline? The total farm is now devalued significantly!

Currently, I have experienced water runoff problems that occur during heavy rains. The proposed pipeline will funnel additional runoff water downslope and only exacerbate the problems in the future. Removal of trees and other plants that hold water along the pipeline route will only worsen the problem. Where is the information on how they will control this runoff?

Yes, we have paid taxes on this land since it was acquired and will have to continue to pay taxes into perpetuity for land that is significantly devalued due to this pipeline. Who is going to fight to have the taxes reduced? Is this a good deal for Moore Township or Northampton County? No, it is not, and in fact, it hurts the community in that they now have to plan, equip and train for possible large gas pipeline emergencies. Where do the funds come from for the training, equipment and insurance? Taxes must go up and we get no benefit. Great! Has PennEast ever provided communities along the route with information about emergency measures to deal with potential pipeline catastrophes? Or, are they to gain this information through osmosis? I am told that the proposed easement can also be used to install additional pipelines or other infrastructure or can even be sold. Is this correct? PennEast would have 24/7 access to this land and could install “pig launchers” or valves as desired or other infrastructure where the pipeline crosses the 500 KVolt power line. This could render additional land useless! In exchange for some minimal one-time payment, the pipeline company would have use of my property forever and I pay taxes on that land. Do you really think that is right?

I have read about farmers that have allowed, or been ordered, by the court to allow pipelines to pass under their land. Despite claims by the construction companies, these farmers have stated that the farmland disturbed by the construction, produce crops at a reduced yield from land not disturbed. Trenching through farmland changes the soil composition and compaction for hundreds of years and therefore impacts crop yields of tax paying farmers. Is there monetary composition for this reduction on a yearly basis since crop prices change?

You can read George’s entire submission below.

George in PA – FERC Generated PDF

George in PA – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Runoff issues

When I lived in NYC I never gave any real thought to rain. It happened, I took an umbrella to work, and that was it. It wasn’t until I moved out to the country that I found out all complexities rain can bring to life – drainage ditches, runoff, water contamination, floods, you name it!

Jane in Easton PA focuses on this and other issues in her FERC submission.

Jane in Easton – FERC Generated PDF

Jane in Easton – FERC Generated PDF Alterate Site

I oppose the proposed Penn East pipeline specifically in the area of mile markers 71.5 to 72.5 due to first hand knowledge of runoff. In the area of mile marker 71.5 and the entire 400-foot area to be considered, the runoff has been so extensive as to cause a ditch along the road, which has to have stones added occasionally. Otherwise, there would be a very deep drop off immediately adjacent to the road. The removal of hundreds or thousands of trees just west of that area will most definitely add to this problem.

According to, a 5% increase in tree cover can offer a 2% decrease in runoff. It can only presumed that a 100% decrease in trees will drastically increase the runoff. Additionally, 1 tree is able to absorb 48 pounds of carbon dioxide and supply oxygen for 2 people, according to that same site. We need to keep every single tree that we possible can in order to absorb the pollution that we already have since the increase in pollution will be exacerbating the climate change.

It is then proposed to cross preserved farmland and through Fry’s Run, which is a High Quality Cold Water Fishery and Migratory Fishery. A Lancaster County farmer indicated in an article on Lancaster Online that his crops growth is stunted over the pipeline compared to an area 10 feet away from the right of way, and this is 24 years after that particular pipeline was installed. This preserved farmland will be subjected to that lose of productivity.