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New Jersey Communities Unanimously Say ‘No’ To The Penn East Pipeline

On a Tuesday night in late July, Dr. Tullis Onstott, Professor of Geosciences at Princeton University – and in 2007 named considered one of TIME Magazine’s most influential people on the planet – stood in entrance of the Hopewell Township, New Jersey, Board of Well being and swore below oath to “inform the reality, the whole reality, and nothing however the reality.”

Propylene EquipmentOnstott provided professional testimony citing the potential lengthy-time period cumulative affect on New Jersey’s regional water supply ought to the Federal Energy Regulatory Fee (FERC) approve the construction of the proposed $1.2 billion PennEast pipeline slated to hold natural gasoline 114 miles from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania by means of the pristine higher reaches of the Delaware River Watershed to a terminus exterior Trenton.

Onstott’s testimony was sobering.
“PennEast pipeline’s proposed path would blast a trench by means of the guts of a area with the highest arsenic focus within the state of new Jersey,” he mentioned, explaining in detail how the arsenic trapped in the rock beneath the thin soil could possibly be released leading to the lack of potable ground water that supplies the rural and semi-rural communities of three hundred-12 months-previous Hunterdon County; and one hundred-fifty-year-outdated Mercer County, dwelling of Princeton College and Princeton Theological Seminary.

Arsenic is designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as a known carcinogen, and it’s the single largest pollutant of wells and water supplies in the state of recent Jersey.

“The proposed pipeline route crosses each aquifer recharge zone that gives drinking water to native communities and every wetland that discharges water into the Delaware Raritan Canal,” mentioned Onstott.

“These fractured rock aquifers,” he added, “are the only real source of water for the wells of hundreds of communities and farms. The aquifers are extraordinarily sensitive to such a building as a result of the six ft deep trench exposes the rock formation to air releasing the arsenic into the shallow water table. Even worse during the pipeline’s operation, methane leakage and the current from its cathodic shield will proceed to mobilize arsenic for many years to come back. There will not be that much groundwater here to begin with, and the rainfall on this a part of the world is not that great either. Dilution of this arsenic from fresh water recharge will be limited.”

He concluded that, “The Federal Energy Regulatory Fee (FERC) and Pipelines Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) should be made aware that certain sorts of hydro-geological situations make massive-scale natural gasoline pipelines essentially incompatible with the safety of the communities dwelling close to them and high arsenic fractured bedrock is one in all them.”

“Why ” he requested, “would the PennEast consortium threat the drinking water for hundreds of people They might have had to have been blind to not know this earlier than they proposed their route.”

Map of Arsenic Concentration Courtesy of the NJDEP
The situation will get worse, in keeping with Michael Pisauro, Coverage Director on the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed, who also testified beneath oath. “Streams classified as “Class 1” [C1] have been determined by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to be of the highest quality and deserving of the very best safety, together with stream buffers that are important to protecting water quality. Timber are crucial in stabilizing water banks and “you cannot take away them with out effecting run off,” he provides.

After listening to Onstott and Pisauro’s testimony, and testimony from four extra experts, a geologist, a medical doctor, a psychologist, and a lawyer, the Hopewell Township Board of Well being unanimously handed a decision, naming “potential groundwater contamination, air high quality degradation, floor water degradation and increased danger of bodily and mental sickness as some of the possible health risks involved,” should the pipeline be constructed. Weeks earlier the Township banned PennEast associate, United Gas Industries (UGI), from surveying after they had been found drilling bore holes on Baldpate Mountain, in the Ted Stiles Preserve overlooking the Delaware River nor removed from Washington’s Crossing State Park where founding father George Washington famously crossed the Delaware to fight the Battle of Trenton, crucial to the success of the Revolutionary War.

Picture of Delaware River from Baldpate Mountain
As a result of so few landowners have allowed PennEast access to their property, the DEP itself advised PennEast that it couldn’t apply for drilling and construction permits until it will get extra geologic information alongside the pipeline’s route.

“Residents are terrified of shedding their drinking water, but in addition water for their fields and their livestock,” says Tom Gilbert of the new Jersey Conservation Fund, noting that the proposed pipeline route “would have an effect on 3000 acres of open house preserved with New Jersey tax dollars, and cross 88 waterways, many federally regulated C-1 blue line crude oil price chart globe and mail streams, the purest designation a waterway can earn.”

PennEast Pipeline, LLC, a restricted legal responsibility corporation, is the umbrella for a strong consortium of gasoline companies: Atlanta-primarily based AGL Assets, Houston-based mostly Spectra Energy Companions , New Jersey-based NJR , Lengthy Island/New Jersey-based PSEG, South Jersey Gas Industries, and UGI Power Providers, a subsidiary of UGI Corporation, a world distributor of vitality merchandise.

In addition, UGI Vitality Services announced plans in Might to construct a liquefied pure gasoline (LNG) manufacturing facility in northern Pennsylvania to benefit from the Marcellus Shale gas. Firms liquefy pure fuel by cooling and condensing it, which makes it easier to ship over lengthy distances and overseas. The LNG plant, which would come with both liquefaction and native storage, is expected to be in full industrial operation by 2017, the identical time-frame PennEast has set to finish its pipeline, making PennEast ripe for LNG exports, an assertion PennEast’s spokesperson Patricia Kornick has persistently denied.

When Kornick was asked about the destructive impacts posed by the pipeline, significantly the potential lack of the only supply of potable water for all six townships along the pipeline route, she said, “Please admire that PennEast employs a seasoned crew of security, engineering, environmental, geologists and specialists…devoted to inspecting all facets associated with safely constructing and working the pipeline whereas minimizing the affect to the neighborhood and setting. The team is conducting numerous research to ensure it has an correct understanding of the underlying geology of the proposed route and will assess any risks and develop applicable mitigation measures to ensure secure development. PennEast is confident it’s going to be capable of adequately address these issues.”

Trenching Machine
A Tale of Two Farms: Part One

“The key phrases to know in Ms. Kornick’s response are ‘mitigation’ and ‘adequately tackle,'” says Jacqueline Haut Evans, of Hunterdon County, a farmer and single mom of three, whose residence lies in the trail of the present pipeline. She, together with nearly 70 p.c of private landowners on the projected pipeline route, has forbidden PennEast surveyors to enter her property.

“In case you look up the definition of ‘mitigation,’ which suggests ‘to trigger something to be much less harsh or to make it less severe or painful,’ you already know PennEast is anticipating problems,” she says.

“And,” she provides. “If the consortium of companies beneath the identify PennEast wants a 100- foot right of approach to accommodate construction of a 36″ diameter pipe and a forty foot right of approach permanently thereafter, how will they ‘mitigate’ the damage to my home with the pipeline at present slated to run next to my entrance porch Even if PennEast moves the pipeline into my discipline, they’ve already ruined my soon-to-be certified organic farm. How do you ‘adequately deal with’ that or ‘mitigate’ my livelihood and the effectively-being of my youngsters. I would no longer be able to farm to the extent I am farming and could lose my farmland assessment and organic certification together with the lack of income from breeding goats, ducks, geese, chickens and the sale of eggs, lamb and honey. Any blasting would kill the fish in my pond and require shifting my complete farmstead, which I’m undecided is possible, forcing me to hold a monetary burden I can not afford.”

Evans Kids Outside Their Sheepfold, which is on the Pipeline Path
“I’m informed,” says Evans, “that I might really feel the vibration of pressurized gasoline moving by way of the pipelines 24 hours a day. It would be a constant reminder that an explosion could occur at anytime. I can’t think about the affect it could have on my youngsters’s mental in addition to physical health. They might see the destruction of their property from their bedrooms and our entrance door.”

PennEast consistently claims that the pipeline just isn’t only safe, however that it will benefit consumers in southern New Jersey, who are in great need of pure fuel. And whereas the fuel itself will not be accessible to the towns by which the pipeline would be built, PennEast claims that the construction and the jobs created will economically enrich the region. Earlier this year, PennEast launched an economic report and impression evaluation prepared by Econsult Options and Drexel University School of Economics whose function is to “quantify the financial advantages resulting from the Undertaking.”

Says the report: “The immediate development and labor impacts of the Undertaking are substantial and would enormously benefit local communities through construction, labor and undertaking management jobs.”

Potential Lack of Property Values
Mercer County, New Jersey, resident, Jeffrey R. Shafer, PhD, a former economist within the Federal Reserve System and former Assistant Secretary and later Undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury for International Affairs, rebuts the report, saying crude oil price chart globe and mail that “loss of property values (for affected landowners and their neighbors) is prone to be very massive. The communities by which the pipeline would run in New Jersey are crude oil price chart globe and mail fundamentally completely different from those developed areas the place economists have found comparatively small valuation effects. For more than three many years this space has attracted these seeking to preserve a small space of conventional farms and forest in the dense city corridor between Washington D.C. and Boston. A lot land has been preserved or protected by way of a spread of programs, which have been paid for by contributions and by transfers of tax burden to other landowners locally.”

“Landowners, each farmers and residents,” he adds, “who have not entered these programs value and protect the land that they personal. The result’s a neighborhood during which the value of its special character is capitalized in property prices. Buyers searching for an undeveloped haven wouldn’t be drawn to the realm where the pipeline runs and this worth can be misplaced. And this pipeline cannot be taken in isolation. Other pipelines and improvement tasks would add up and essentially change the character of your complete area.”

Piipeline Blowout near Appomattox, Virginia, 2008
Michelle Byers, Executive Director of the new Jersey Conservation Basis, echoes Shafer’s issues. On the inspiration’s website she addresses the truth that the state of new Jersey is presently updating its master power plan. Instead of 12 new pipelines proposed to bisect the state, she calls for a bigger funding in renewables. “There isn’t clear documentation that these new gasoline pipelines are needed in New Jersey. In truth, the alternative is almost certainly true,” she says.

“A current analysis carried out by Labyrinth Consulting Companies – discovered that the proposed PennEast pipeline alone would end in a fifty three p.c surplus past present demand in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and concluded that gas is bound for different markets, together with export overseas. The current rush to build multiple pipelines in New Jersey runs the chance of considerably over-building, leading to provide that far exceeds actual wants.”

In the report, petroleum geologist and energy knowledgeable, Arthur E. Berman says, “Based mostly on present pure fuel supply and demand in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, there isn’t a obvious want for gas that could be transported through the PennEast pipeline.”

A Tale of Two Farms: Half Two
Angele and Brant Switzler’s 50-acre farm in Delaware Township, Hunterdon County, has been in the household for 3 generations, a farm they share with extended family. In early August, beneath a deep blue sky, Switzler sits in her living room as a PennEast survey aircraft circles her property taking images, making a loop over the neighborhood and returns, chopping the nonetheless air with an insistent loud drone.

The Switzler’s farm is a working farm with a fruit orchard and a large daylily area in cultivation for eventual sale of individual plants. The Switzlers depend on solar panels for electricity and a carbon capture wooden burning stove for heat within the winter. Based on PennEast’s proposed route, the pipeline easement would minimize by means of the orchard, the daylily field, and the photo voltaic panels.

On Might 15, Switzler, a gifted painter educated at the Academy of High quality Arts in Philadelphia, woke up with what she assumed was one other migraine. “The complications had been occurring frequently since I first became anxious and threatened by the prospect of the PennEast Pipeline chopping through the entire size of my property, destroying a woodland and wetland along with farmland,” she says.

Switzler, like her neighbors in rural Delaware Township has refused surveyors access to her property. “In April the survey company known as me every day,” she says. “A man with a southern accent saved telling me that he had essential new info I should know, information I could be privy to, solely after i allowed them to return survey. Even more upsetting, at a PennEast informational dinner in April, a land agent confirmed me a map of the route by way of my property through which they’d deleted my home.”

“It was doubly upsetting,” she provides. “Because at an earlier meeting, I sat down with one other land agent and went via a map of my property with him. And that map contained my home. We marked what was essential to my husband and me – a a hundred and fifty-year-old oak tree, the orchard, the photo voltaic panels, the situation of my well and where my septic system is buried – with yellow arrows and famous all the pieces with the coordinate.

The second land agent who informed me my house was missing wasn’t even fazed by the deletion. He simply said, ‘Effectively Google Earth does not always have the house on it.'”

“How is that possible when my home predates Google Earth ” she wonders. “The agent mentioned that unless I let them on my property they might properly use a Google Earth map, threatening by implication that they may route the pipeline straight by means of my home. It’s unfathomable that in order to clarify the stress and sorrow this has placed on my husband, my kids and myself, I have to remind professional-pipeline advocates what “house” means to most individuals. Dwelling is typically the only funding and monetary safety a household like ours has.”

Switzler’s headache was not a migraine, but a brain hemorrhage, which left her paralyzed and in the hospital for eight weeks. “Ironically,” she says, on the day I returned dwelling from the hospital, three surveyors had been at the sting of my property with survey equipment.

Surveyor on the edge of the Switzler Farm
70% of Landowners in New Jersey Have Refused Survey Access to their Properties

Switzler, who now walks unsteadily and has lost some of the positive motor skills she must paint, adds, “It has always been clear to impacted land house owners that this is nothing more than a company saying, ‘We stand to make thousands and thousands of dollars from fracked gas. Your land is in our manner. We are going to lobby the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to offer us permission to make use of Eminent Domain, in order that we will take your land and there is nothing you can do about it. We don’t have to concern ourselves along with your rights or gasification feelings. So comply.'”

At challenge, she provides, “are a few of the most fundamental rights of citizens – the best to own property, the suitable to wash water and the precise to guard natural environments. Each time land grabs occur, precedents are being set. There are 12 pipelines in the works in New Jersey. Different energy consortiums are following the PennEast mission with interest. I was not on the route a month in the past, and i won’t be on the route finally. This can be a moving target. The process is an expedited farce in favor of gasoline corporations, not residents.”

As the scoping course of continues, all of the townships alongside the Delaware River are listening to her and her neighbors. At the Delaware Township meeting held on August 10, the room was stuffed to overflowing with residents of all ages. Following the example of each single township in New Jersey in the trail of the pipeline, the Delaware Township committee presented a resolution. Among the many points had been these:

1. The taxpayers of 36.67 sq. mile rural Delaware Township, one hour from New York Metropolis and one hour from Philadelphia, in partnership with County, Federal and non-revenue agencies, has invested $15, 414, 546.60 within the preservation of 2,146 acres of open house and farmland that’s treasured by thousands of tourists every year from neighboring states and across the country, giving a lift to the economic system and to the native farms and eating places.

2. New Jersey Conservation Basis, who has partnered with the township in preserving open house, discovered that PennEast surveyors entered land owned by the muse and Hunterdon Land Belief with out the permission of the owner. On July 30, the muse issued an order to “stop and desist unauthorized entry and survey activities.

After a whole lot of conferences through which neighbors obtained to know and respect one another for his or her love of one of the crucial historic and stunning places in the U.S. and for their pragmatic response to a pipeline they believe is redundant; and with an understanding that the battle to avoid wasting their land will ultimately relaxation with the Federal Authorities, a cheer rippled through the room when the Delaware Township Committee unanimously handed its resolution to deny PennEast survey entry on any and all Township-owned lands.

PennEast plans to submit its formal software to the Federal Power Regulatory Fee in September.

“I painted “Artifact” in my studio on my Hunterdon County farm,” says Angele Switzler. “It is a illustration of a really small arrowhead I keep there. This arrowhead is of significance to me as a result of my father is Wasco Indian, raised on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Central Oregon. The arrowhead is offered rising from the river as a totem to the universal truth that so as to survive, we must change into engaged in and related to our environment. For our environment, like my farm, binds us to our forefathers and mothers and becomes our legacy to our children.”

Editor’s Be aware: The resolution went to, amongst others, Governor Chris Christie, Senators Robert Menendez, Cory Booker and Christopher Bateman, Congressman Leonard Lance, Assemblywoman Donna Simon, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, the new Jersey Department of Environmental Safety, the brand new Jersey State Agricultural Fee, Hunterdon County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Mercer County Board of Freeholders, Hunterdon County Agriculture Development Board, affected communities in Luzerne, Carbon, Northampton and Bucks Counties in Pennsylvania and Hunterdon and Mercer Counties in New Jersey, the brand new Jersey League of Municipalities, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Hunterdon land Trust and the Delaware Township Citizens Towards the PennEast Pipeline (DTCAPP).

Joy E. Stocke writes often about environmental issues. She is the founder and Editor in Chief of the net journal, Wild River Overview.

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