Winifred from Holland Township, NJ has a whole lot to say about to the FERC about this pipeline, the scoping process, and a whole lot more. It’s so well-written I’m going to include the entire text here, but I want to highlight one piece in particular because it strikes so close to how myself and many others feel:
“I object to the construction of the Penn East Pipeline for many reasons. The biggest reason is that I love my land and the birds, plants and animals I share it with. Removing the trees and tainting the water that runs through it and below it will damage it forever. It will never be the same.” (emphasis mine).
My name is Winifred Waldron. I am a landowner in Holland Township New jersey and would be directly impacted by the Penn East Project. My property lies between mile posts 82 and 83 and is within 2 tenths of a mile from mile post 83- and I was denied the opportunity to speak at last evening’s FERC scoping meeting. After the meeting I was told that there were 20 people still on the list waiting to speak including me. Later, I learned that there were about the same number of people denied the opportunity to speak at the Trenton meeting as well- totaling at a minimum 40 people. If we were all given the mere 3 minutes allotted to speak, it would amount to another 120 minutes – essentially the length of a scoping meeting. It goes to show that the number of FERC scoping meetings held in New Jersey were insufficient. There were 3 meetings in Pennsylvania and only 2 in New Jersey. Another meeting should be held in New Jersey, about halfway between the two ends of the pipeline that might traverse the region, so that the people who wanted to talk will be provided that opportunity. Furthermore, the recently announced route changes, there should be additional meetings for these people affected. As a landowner denied the opportunity to speak my piece, I know how those landowners must feel at not having the opportunity to prepare and speak out- on the record.
I was anxious to speak and having the public hear my concerns – on the record. I have been waiting more than 2 months to speak. I wrote and revised my concerns until I was able to put them into a succinct speech that would fit into the 3 minute time slot. I have lost all of that time and energy spent preparing, similar to the land that I could lose if this pipeline is approved. I have been monitoring the FERC submissions since the fall, I see how many come in and how thorough and lengthy some of the submissions are. I know that only a few people see those submissions. Given a chance to speak, I might have been heard by more. My husband and I attended Penn East informational meetings in good faith and expecting that our concerns would be heard and questions answered. It did not happen. Instead the Penn East Representatives would send us from table to table and eventually explain that the person that I needed to speak to was not at that meeting but should be at the next.
My husband and I both took time off from work to attend 3 of those meetings. We never had our concerns addressed. Finally, at the last meeting we attended, I explained to Medha Kochlar from FERC that I felt that my concerns were not being addressed and my questions were not being answered. She kindly introduced me to, Alisa Harris from Penn East. Ms Kochlar also recommended that I submit my concerns to FERC. She cautioned that I would not hear back from them as they gather the information for review, but do not answer questions. She also told me that there would be the scoping meetings sponsored by FERC where I would be able to express my concerns publicly. She pointed at the flow sheet and said that they would most likely be held after the holidays. She was right about being after the holidays, but she misspoke bout having the opportunity to express my concerns.
Well, I submitted my concerns on paper, but now I have more to say. I am a landowner directly impacted by the proposed Penn East pipeline. The 400 foot survey area bisects my property. It starts approximately 30 feet from my house and runs through the middle of my backyard. It could take out my fence on 3 sides, many trees as the fence line and one end of the yard are wooded, some fruit trees, my gardens – I grow my own vegetables, my strawberry patch, my onions, garlic and shallots, my blackberry patch, my raspberries, my coneflowers, the garden for my sunflowers, my fire pit and my barn! It could be within 50 feet of my well. I already have some arsenic in my well water. The level bumped up a bit after the earthquakes. The excavation and construction for the pipeline could easily raise the arsenic level up to the toxic range. Death by arsenic- not my first choice. But then, given the proximity to my house, if there were an accident, such as an explosion, BOOM! I would be incinerated. Hmm… I don’t think I like option two any better. I could lose a lot to this pipeline.
I work from home and one of my favorite things about working from home is watching the wildlife. In the morning a young hawk comes to visit about the same time as I sit down to my desk. It perches in the trees – trees that will be displaced by the pipeline – with its keen eyes scanning the yard. I might make a noise or get up to take a closer look through the window and it will turn and look right at me with those keen eyes that appear to miss nothing.
Later in the day, the older hawks start soaring in the sky above my house. The black birds who normally sit at the tops of the pine trees guarding the yard from intruders will become frantic and start calling out in alarm. A group of them will gather and try to chase the predators away. Unfettered, the hawks just fly higher up into sky.
When I cast my eyes towards the ground, I see Wild Turkeys jogging through the yard or the deer sleeping lazily under the trees. A fawn was born and lived in my flower garden for a summer. Now grown, it is not bothered by our presence in the yard and will keep munching away –helping itself to the plants and fruit we grow here.
I love to sit at my desk and listen to the birds chirping during the day and hear the sound of the stream, babbling down the hill to the Harihokake Creek. When my day has ended, I love to relax on the deck at night and listen to the frogs chirping and watching the bats flitter about diving and catching bugs or looking out into the back yard to see the fireflies light up the woods and sky. I object to the construction of the Penn East Pipeline for many reasons. The biggest reason is that I love my land and the birds, plants and animals I share it with. Removing the trees and tainting the water that runs through it and below it will damage it forever. It will never be the same.
I know that Penn East promises to return my land to the way it was before the pipeline construction took place. I am told that after construction, it will be hard to tell that the line is even exists. There is no way they can keep that promise. It is an empty promise. A lie. I do not trust Penn East. All of my interactions with them have been negative. From the land agent Mr. Gilbert and his threats of eminent domain to the Penn East representatives at the company sponsored meetings who took our information and questions and promised that we would hear from someone from the company who would supply the answers. The last of whom was Ms. Harris who at the request of Ms. Kochlar from FERC took my name, phone number and Email address and promised that I would get a call back in 48 hours. I did not get an Email until February, it was not from her and it was to ask me if I still had questions!? Of course I do, no one took the time to answer them yet! At this point, I am not sure that I would believe what they have to say anyway. Their stories have changed so much. From the size of the pipe, to the width of the corridor and the location of the pipe on my property- which was moved closer to my house and now bisects the land! They made no effort to follow boundaries or edges. Not to mention the lack of documentation of the wetland, category 1 stream and the extent of the slope of the hill to the stream. They have been evasive and dishonest. I do not trust Penn East.
Nor do I trust Tetra Tech. I know it is a member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition and represents Marcellus shale to the government. It is also involved in the natural gas and pipeline industry. I question the ability of the consultants to be unbiased. With the recent news of Tetra Tech’s biased decisions and questionable business practices- destroying evidence? I am thinking that this concern is valid. Even without the illegal activities recently brought to light, just its membership to the Marcellus Shale Coalition should prevent them from being environmental consultants for a natural gas line transporting product from the Marcellus shale region. It is a conflict of interest. Although I am not surprised that FERC would allow it – it has a reputation of being pro-pipeline and pro-infrastructure. I am even less surprised after I read that FERC regards landowners as “problems” for pipeline infrastructure in the power point presentation by FERC “A View from the Beltway”. I am NOT sorry to be such a problem. I have told my children and patients that it is important to self-advocate. I, as do many of the other landowners affected, have a multitude of concerns about this pipeline and not only about its effect on Me but on Our World and the futures of Our Children. I will speak out and I will be heard.
Take the “No Action” alternative and do not approve the Penn East Pipeline Project.
Thank You for Listening
Winifred’s submission is available below. Please visit it to see the lovely pictures she’s included: