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 in the world – stood in front of the Hopewell Township, New Jersey, Board of Well being and swore underneath oath to “inform the truth, the entire truth, and nothing however the reality.”

Onstott offered expert testimony citing the potential long-term cumulative impression on New Jersey’s regional water provide should the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approve the construction of the proposed $1.2 billion PennEast pipeline slated to carry pure gasoline 114 miles from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania through 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 through the guts of a region with the very best arsenic concentration within the state of latest Jersey,” he said, explaining in detail how the arsenic trapped in the rock beneath the thin soil might be launched leading to the loss of potable floor water that provides the rural and semi-rural communities of three hundred-yr-outdated Hunterdon County; and one hundred-fifty-yr-outdated Mercer County, residence of Princeton College and Princeton Theological Seminary.

Arsenic is designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as a identified carcinogen, and it is the single largest pollutant of wells and water supplies in the state of new 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,” said Onstott.

“These fractured rock aquifers,” he added, “are the sole supply of water for the wells of hundreds of communities and farms. The aquifers are extraordinarily sensitive to any such building as a result of the six ft deep trench exposes the rock formation to air releasing the arsenic into the shallow water desk. Even worse in the course of the pipeline’s operation, methane leakage and the present from its cathodic shield will continue to mobilize arsenic for decades to return. There shouldn’t be that a lot groundwater right here to start with, and the rainfall in this a part of the world will not be that nice both. Dilution of this arsenic from fresh water recharge will probably be restricted.”

He concluded that, “The Federal Vitality Regulatory Fee (FERC) and Pipelines Hazardous Supplies Safety Administration (PHMSA) have to be made aware that certain types of hydro-geological situations make large-scale pure gasoline pipelines essentially incompatible with the safety of the communities dwelling close to them and excessive arsenic fractured bedrock is one in every of them.”

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

Map of Arsenic Concentration Courtesy of the NJDEP

The situation gets worse, in response to Michael Pisauro, Policy Director on the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed, who additionally testified beneath oath. “Streams categorised as “Class 1” [C1] have been determined by the Division of Environmental Safety (DEP) to be of the best high quality and deserving of the best safety, together with stream buffers which are very important to protecting water high quality. Trees are essential in stabilizing water banks and “you can’t 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 Health unanimously handed a decision, naming “potential groundwater contamination, air high quality degradation, floor water degradation and increased threat of physical and psychological illness as among the attainable health risks involved,” ought to the pipeline be built. Weeks earlier the Township banned PennEast companion, United Fuel Industries (UGI), from surveying after they had been found drilling bore holes on Baldpate Mountain, within the Ted Stiles Preserve overlooking the Delaware River nor removed from Washington’s Crossing State Park the place founding father George Washington famously crossed the Delaware to struggle the Battle of Trenton, crucial to the success of the Revolutionary War.

Image 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 building permits unless it gets extra geologic data along the pipeline’s route.

“Residents are terrified of losing their drinking water, but additionally water for his or her 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 space preserved with New Jersey tax dollars, and cross 88 waterways, many federally regulated C-1 blue line streams, the purest designation a waterway can earn.”

PennEast Pipeline, LLC, a restricted liability corporation, is the umbrella for a strong consortium of fuel corporations: Atlanta-primarily based AGL Sources, Houston-based Spectra Energy Companions , New Jersey-based mostly NJR , Long Island/New Jersey-based mostly PSEG, South Jersey Gasoline Industries, and UGI Power Providers, a subsidiary of UGI Corporation, a worldwide distributor of power products.

In addition, UGI Energy Services introduced plans in Might to construct a liquefied pure gasoline (LNG) production facility in northern Pennsylvania to take advantage of the Marcellus Shale gas. Corporations liquefy natural gasoline by cooling and condensing it, which makes it easier to ship over long distances and overseas. The LNG plant, which would include each liquefaction and native storage, is anticipated to be in full business operation by 2017, the same time-body PennEast has set to finish its pipeline, making PennEast ripe for LNG exports, an assertion PennEast’s spokesperson Patricia Kornick has consistently denied.

When Kornick was requested concerning the damaging impacts posed by the pipeline, particularly the potential loss of the one source of potable water for all six townships along the pipeline route, she stated, “Please respect that PennEast employs a seasoned workforce of safety, engineering, environmental, geologists and specialists…devoted to inspecting all elements associated with safely constructing and working the pipeline whereas minimizing the affect to the community and setting. The workforce is conducting numerous studies to ensure it has an accurate understanding of the underlying geology of the proposed route and will assess any risks and develop relevant mitigation measures to make sure protected development. PennEast is assured it’s going to be capable to adequately address these considerations.”

Trenching Machine

A Tale of Two Farms: Part One

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

“For those who lookup the definition of ‘mitigation,’ which suggests ‘to cause one thing to be less harsh or to make it much less severe or painful,’ you already know PennEast is anticipating issues,” she says.

“And,” she adds. “If the consortium of companies under the identify PennEast needs a one hundred- foot right of solution to accommodate development of a 36″ diameter pipe and a 40 foot right of approach permanently thereafter, how will they ‘mitigate’ the harm to my home with the pipeline at the moment slated to run subsequent to my front porch? Even when PennEast strikes the pipeline into my field, they’ve already ruined my soon-to-be certified natural farm. How do you ‘adequately handle’ that or ‘mitigate’ my livelihood and the effectively-being of my children. I’d not be capable of farm to the extent I’m farming and will lose my farmland assessment and organic certification along 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 transferring my entire farmstead, which I’m unsure is possible, forcing me to carry a financial burden I can’t afford.”

Evans Youngsters Outside Their Sheepfold, which is on the Pipeline Path

“I’m instructed,” says Evans, “that I would really feel the vibration of pressurized gasoline moving through the pipelines 24 hours a day. It can be a constant reminder that an explosion may occur at anytime. I am unable to think about the impression it might have on my children’s mental as well as bodily health. They would see the destruction of their property from their bedrooms and our front door.”

PennEast constantly claims that the pipeline shouldn’t be solely secure, however that it’s going to profit shoppers in southern New Jersey, who are in great need of natural fuel. And whereas the gasoline itself won’t be accessible to the towns through which the pipeline could be constructed, PennEast claims that the construction and the jobs created will economically enrich the region. Earlier this yr, PennEast launched an financial report and influence analysis prepared by Econsult Solutions and Drexel College Faculty of Economics whose function is to “quantify the financial benefits ensuing from the Challenge.”

Says the report: “The immediate development and labor impacts of the Venture are substantial and would tremendously profit native communities by way of development, labor and mission management jobs.”

Potential Loss 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 Worldwide Affairs, rebuts the report, saying that “lack of property values (for affected landowners and their neighbors) is more likely to be very large. The communities through which the pipeline would run in New Jersey are basically totally different from these developed areas where economists have found comparatively small valuation results. For greater than three a long time this space has attracted these seeking to preserve a small space of traditional farms and forest within the dense urban corridor between Washington D.C. and Boston. A lot land has been preserved or protected by a variety 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 worth and protect the land that they personal. The result’s a neighborhood by which the value of its particular character is capitalized in property costs. Consumers in search of an undeveloped haven wouldn’t be drawn to the world the place the pipeline runs and this worth would be misplaced. And this pipeline cannot be taken in isolation. Other pipelines and growth projects would add up and basically change the character of your entire space.”

Piipeline Blowout near Appomattox, Virginia, 2008

Michelle Byers, Govt Director of the brand new Jersey Conservation Basis, echoes Shafer’s issues. On the inspiration’s website she addresses the truth that the state of recent Jersey is currently updating its grasp power plan. As a substitute of 12 new pipelines proposed to bisect the state, she calls for a bigger investment in renewables. “There isn’t clear documentation that these new gas pipelines are needed in New Jersey. In truth, the opposite is most likely true,” she says.

“A recent evaluation conducted by Labyrinth Consulting Services – found that the proposed PennEast pipeline alone would end in a 53 percent surplus beyond current demand in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and concluded that gas is bound for different markets, including export overseas. The present rush to construct a number of pipelines in New Jersey runs the danger of considerably over-constructing, leading to provide that far exceeds actual needs.”

In the report, petroleum geologist and power expert, Arthur E. Berman says, “Based on current natural fuel provide and demand in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, there isn’t a obvious need for gas that can be transported by way of the PennEast pipeline.”

A Tale of Two Farms: Part Two

Angele and Brant Switzler’s 50-acre farm in Delaware Township, Hunterdon County, has been within the family for three generations, a farm they share with prolonged household. In early August, beneath a deep blue sky, Switzler sits in her residing room as a PennEast survey plane circles her property taking images, making a loop over the neighborhood and returns, reducing the still air with an insistent loud drone.

The Switzler’s farm is a working farm with a fruit orchard and a large daylily subject in cultivation for eventual sale of particular person plants. The Switzlers rely on solar panels for electricity and a carbon seize wooden burning stove for heat within the winter. In accordance with PennEast’s proposed route, the pipeline easement would cut through the orchard, the daylily subject, and the photo voltaic panels.

On May 15, Switzler, a gifted painter trained at the Academy of High quality Arts in Philadelphia, woke up with what she assumed was one other migraine. “The headaches had been occurring on a regular basis since I first became anxious and threatened by the prospect of the PennEast Pipeline chopping by way of all the size of my property, destroying a woodland and wetland in addition to farmland,” she says.

Switzler, like her neighbors in rural Delaware Township has refused surveyors access to her property. “In April the survey firm known as me day-after-day,” she says. “A man with a southern accent kept telling me that he had essential new info I should know, data I could be privy to, solely after i allowed them to come survey. Even more upsetting, at a PennEast informational dinner in April, a land agent showed me a map of the route via my property during which they’d deleted my house.”

“It was doubly upsetting,” she adds. “Because at an earlier assembly, I sat down with one other land agent and went by a map of my property with him. And that map contained my home. We marked what was necessary to my husband and me – a one hundred fifty-yr-old oak tree, the orchard, the solar panels, the placement of my effectively and the place my septic system is buried – with yellow arrows and noted all the things with the coordinate.

The second land agent who informed me my home was lacking wasn’t even fazed by the deletion. He merely said, ‘Properly Google Earth doesn’t always have the house on it.'”

“How is that possible when my home predates Google Earth?” she wonders. “The agent stated that except I allow them to on my property they may effectively use a Google Earth map, threatening by implication that they could route the pipeline directly by way of my house. It’s unfathomable that in order to explain the stress and sorrow this has put on my husband, my children and myself, I have to remind professional-pipeline advocates what “home” means to most individuals. Home is generally the one investment and monetary safety a family like ours has.”

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

Surveyor on the edge of the Switzler Farm

70% of Landowners in New Jersey Have Refused Survey Entry to their Properties

Switzler, who now walks unsteadily and has misplaced among the advantageous motor abilities she must paint, provides, “It has at all times been clear to impacted land house owners that this is nothing greater than an organization saying, ‘We stand to make tens of millions of dollars from fracked gasoline. Your land is in our manner. We will lobby the Federal Power Regulatory Commission to provide us permission to make use of Eminent Area, so that we are able to take your land and there is nothing you can do about it. We do not should concern ourselves with your rights or feelings. So comply.'”

At concern, she provides, “are some of probably the most elementary rights of citizens – the best to personal property, the right to scrub water and the correct to protect pure environments. Every time land grabs occur, precedents are being set. There are 12 pipelines in the works in New Jersey. Other energy consortiums are following the PennEast venture with curiosity. I used to be not on the route a month in the past, and that i won’t be on the route ultimately. It is a transferring goal. The process is an expedited farce in favor of gas firms, not residents.”

As the scoping course of continues, all of the townships along the Delaware River are listening to her and her neighbors. At the Delaware Township meeting held on August 10, the room was crammed to overflowing with residents of all ages. Following the example of each single township in New Jersey in the path of the pipeline, the Delaware Township committee presented a resolution. Among the many points have 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-profit businesses, has invested $15, 414, 546.60 in the preservation of two,146 acres of open space and farmland that is treasured by thousands of visitors every year from neighboring states and throughout the nation, giving a lift to the economy and to the native farms and restaurants.

2. New Jersey Conservation Foundation, who has partnered with the township in preserving open space, realized that PennEast surveyors entered land owned by the foundation and Hunterdon Land Belief without the permission of the owner. On July 30, the muse issued an order to “cease and desist unauthorized entry and survey actions.

After hundreds of conferences during which neighbors obtained to know and respect each other for their love of some of the historic and stunning places within the U.S., and for their pragmatic response to a pipeline they imagine is redundant; and with an understanding that the battle to save their land will finally rest with the Federal Government, a cheer rippled by the room when the Delaware Township Committee unanimously passed its resolution to deny PennEast survey entry on any and all Township-owned lands.

PennEast plans to submit its formal utility to the Federal Vitality Regulatory Fee in September.

“I painted “Artifact” in my studio on my Hunterdon County farm,” says Angele Switzler. “It’s a representation of a very small arrowhead I keep there. This arrowhead is of significance to me because 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 common reality that in order to outlive, we should change into engaged in and related to our surroundings. For our setting, like my farm, binds us to our forefathers and mothers and becomes our legacy to our youngsters.”

Editor’s Observe: The decision went to, among others, Governor Chris Christie, Senators Robert Menendez, Cory Booker and Christopher Bateman, Congressman Leonard Lance, Assemblywoman Donna Simon, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, the brand new Jersey Division of Environmental Protection, the 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 Community, the Hunterdon land Belief and the Delaware Township Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline (DTCAPP).

Joy E. Stocke writes frequently about environmental issues. She is the founder and Editor in Chief of the web magazine, Wild River Assessment.