16th District legislators Sen. Kip Bateman, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli and Assemblywoman Donna Simon voiced their strong opposition to the proposed PennEast natural gas pipeline project that would extend from Luzerne County, Pa. through Hunterdon and Mercer counties in New Jersey. In a letter (attached) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the legislators stated, “To the very best of our knowledge, no pipeline has ever been developed in a more bucolic, previously preserved, and historically significant and designated area.”
“Running a pipeline through numerous parcels of preserved land in some of the most beautiful places in the state poses far too many environmental risks,” said Bateman. “There’s certainly a need to plan for the future to make sure the state can meet its energy demands, but constructing a pipeline in a way that would lower property values, impact quality of life for residents and damage the state’s dwindling open spaces is not the way to go. We must be vigilant in ensuring that human health and safety and environmental impacts are unequivocally first and foremost in considering any pipeline proposal.”
The legislators indicated their intention to also contact the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), Congressman Leonard Lance, and Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, asking them to address their concerns and advocate for alternative options.
“The PennEast Pipeline will permanently scar an exceptionally pristine, rich agricultural heritage that truly defines and sustains residents of the area,” said Ciattarelli. “Simply put, this untouched area is, in and of itself, a way of life for local residents, most of whom relocated there purposely to avoid development of any kind.”
PennEast indicated the proposed pipeline would go through the FERC approval process over the next few years, with construction estimated to begin in late 2017. Construction is expected to take between seven months and one year.
“There are serious issues that must be considered,” said Simon. “The proposal crosses streams and properties protected by the NJDEP Green Acres Program, and affects properties purchased by land conservation and protection organizations. The proposal of a 100-mile, 30-inch wide pipeline is contrary to the wishes of the public, will negatively impact farmers and their livelihoods and compromise future crops. The interests of our constituents and disturbance to our communities are just as important as the construction of this pipeline.”