Activists Fight Proposal for Natural Gas Pipeline Through New Jersey

Conservation and citizen groups called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to deny PennEast’s application to build a proposed pipeline that would cut through Mercer and Hunterdon counties. They said it would cause irreparable harm to over 4,000 acres of preserved open space and farmland, 31 of the state’s cleanest and most ecologically significant streams, and many landowners and communities.  PennEast on Sept. 24 filed a formal application with FERC, the groups said in a statement.

“We can never condone PennEast’s taking land away from families for their unneeded project,” said Patty Cronheim, founder of Hopewell Township Citizens Against the Pipeline. PennEast is pressing ahead with its application despite the fact the landowners in New Jersey have denied survey access for the proposed pipeline on 70% of the proposed route, according to the statement.

Congressman Leonard Lance, the latest elected official to voice serious concerns about the proposed pipeline, recently wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. “These are environmentally sensitive open space areas that I have fought to protect and preserve while a member of the New Jersey Legislature and I believe it would be fiscally and environmentally irresponsible to allow taxpayer protected open space to be used in this manner,” said Lance.

Lance also said in his letter that eminent domain should be used “only in the most limited and extreme cases that benefit public use and not private corporate entities.”

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman, New Jersey State Senators Shirley Turner and Christopher ‘Kip’ Bateman and Assembly members Jack Ciatterelli, Donna Simon and Liz Muoio, John DiMaio and Erik Peterson have all gone on record noting grave concerns about the proposed pipeline.

“This pipeline is not needed in New Jersey, and our land, water and communities should not be sacrificed for this ill-conceived pipeline,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

Gilbert cited a report filed with FERC by Labyrinth Consulting indicating that the natural gas from the proposed pipeline would result in a 53% surplus over what the state would actually need, and that the surplus gas is bound for other markets, including export overseas.

“Over the past 20 years, New Jersey has taken bold actions to protect the integrity of our drinking water supplies.  Water is in short supply in our state and the current drought-like conditions demonstrate this.  The PennEast pipeline would be constructed through 31 of the state’s most important (C1) waterways and wetlands causing irrevocable damage.  FERC and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection must protect these critical waterways,” said Jim Waltman, executive director of Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association.

“The proposed PennEast pipeline would undermine and destroy decades of dedicated work to preserve land in this special region of New Jersey,” said Michele Byers, executive director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “I am concerned not only about damage to these preserved lands, but also about what this means for the future of land preservation in our state.”

“FERC’s approval of this pipeline would mean that PennEast, a private company, could use eminent domain to take property for their private project. Landowners along the pipeline route could face losing their homes, farms and lands, some of which have been in their families for decades,” said Patty Cronheim of Hopewell Township Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline.  “The need for this pipeline has not been proven, so why are we taking land away from families?”

Every town along the pipeline route has adopted a resolution to oppose the pipeline.  Mercer County, Hopewell and Delaware Townships and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation have issued cease and desist orders to prevent PennEast and its representatives from accessing their properties to survey.

“PennEast has a long way to go before it receives required approvals from FERC and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.  Thankfully, the NJ DEP is holding firm against pressure from PennEast. Pressure to build the pipeline, however is not going away and we are counting on our elected leaders and appointed public officials to represent the interests of their constituents and do everything in their power to stop this damaging project proposed by PennEast,” said Byers.

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