On a Tuesday evening in late July, Dr. Tullis Onstott, Professor of Geosciences at Princeton University – and in 2007 named one among TIME Magazine’s most influential individuals on the earth – stood in front of the Hopewell Township, New Jersey, Board of Health and swore underneath oath to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the reality.”
Onstott provided expert testimony citing the potential lengthy-time period cumulative impact on New Jersey’s regional water provide ought to the Federal Power Regulatory Commission (FERC) approve the development of the proposed $1.2 billion PennEast pipeline slated to carry pure fuel 114 miles from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania by the pristine upper 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 heart of a area with the best arsenic focus in the state of new Jersey,” he said, explaining intimately how the arsenic trapped within the rock beneath the thin soil could be released leading to the loss of potable floor water that supplies the rural and semi-rural communities of three hundred-year-old Hunterdon County; and one hundred-fifty-year-old Mercer County, home of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary.
Arsenic is designated by the Environmental Safety Agency as a known carcinogen, and it is the one largest pollutant of wells and water supplies within the state of new Jersey.
“The proposed pipeline route crosses every aquifer recharge zone that gives drinking water to native communities and each wetland that discharges water into the Delaware Raritan Canal,” mentioned Onstott.
“These fractured rock aquifers,” he added, “are the only source of water for the wells of tons of of communities and farms. The aquifers are extraordinarily sensitive to this sort of building as a result of the six feet deep trench exposes the rock formation to air releasing the arsenic into the shallow water table. 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 many years to come back. There is just not that much groundwater right here to begin with, and the rainfall on this part of the world isn’t that great both. Dilution of this arsenic from fresh water recharge will likely be limited.”
He concluded that, “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Pipelines Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) have to be made conscious that sure forms of hydro-geological conditions make large-scale pure gas pipelines essentially incompatible with the security of the communities living near them and excessive arsenic fractured bedrock is certainly one of them.”
“Why?” he requested, “would the PennEast consortium threat the drinking water for 1000’s of people? They’d have had to have been blind to not know this before they proposed their route.”
Map of Arsenic Focus Courtesy of the NJDEP
The state of affairs will get worse, in keeping with Michael Pisauro, Coverage Director on the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed, who additionally testified beneath oath. “Streams classified as “Class 1” [C1] have been decided by the Division of Environmental Protection (DEP) to be of the best high quality and deserving of the very best safety, together with stream buffers that are vital to defending water high quality. Bushes are crucial in stabilizing water banks and “you can not remove them without effecting run off,” he provides.
After hearing Onstott and Pisauro’s testimony, and testimony from 4 additional experts, a geologist, a medical doctor, a psychologist, and a lawyer, the Hopewell Township Board of Well being unanimously passed a resolution, naming “potential groundwater contamination, air high quality degradation, floor water degradation and increased danger of bodily and psychological illness as some of the potential health dangers concerned,” should the pipeline be built. Weeks earlier the Township banned PennEast partner, United Gasoline Industries (UGI), from surveying after they have been found drilling bore holes on Baldpate Mountain, within the Ted Stiles Preserve overlooking the Delaware River nor far 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 Struggle.
Picture of Delaware River from Baldpate Mountain
Because so few landowners have allowed PennEast entry to their property, the DEP itself suggested PennEast that it couldn’t apply for drilling and construction permits until it gets more geologic data along the pipeline’s route.
“Residents are terrified of shedding their drinking water, but in addition 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 affect 3000 acres of open house 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 company, is the umbrella for a powerful consortium of gas firms: Atlanta-primarily based AGL Sources, Houston-based mostly Spectra Vitality Companions , New Jersey-primarily based NJR , Lengthy Island/New Jersey-based PSEG, South Jersey Fuel Industries, and UGI Energy Companies, a subsidiary of UGI Corporation, a global distributor of energy products.
In addition, UGI Power Companies announced plans in Might to build a liquefied pure gasoline (LNG) manufacturing facility in northern Pennsylvania to make the most of the Marcellus Shale gasoline. Firms liquefy natural fuel by cooling and condensing it, which makes it simpler to ship over long distances and overseas. The LNG plant, which would come with each liquefaction and local storage, is anticipated to be in full business operation by 2017, the identical time-frame PennEast has set to complete its pipeline, making PennEast ripe for LNG exports, an assertion PennEast’s spokesperson Patricia Kornick has persistently denied.
When Kornick was asked about the detrimental impacts posed by the pipeline, notably the potential lack of the one supply of potable water for all six townships along the pipeline route, she stated, “Please admire that PennEast employs a seasoned workforce of safety, engineering, environmental, geologists and specialists…devoted to inspecting all aspects related to safely constructing and working the pipeline while minimizing the influence to the neighborhood and atmosphere. 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 dangers and develop relevant mitigation measures to ensure secure development. PennEast is confident it can have the ability to adequately address these concerns.”
A Tale of Two Farms: Half 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 home lies in the path of the current pipeline. She, along with practically 70 p.c of private landowners on the projected pipeline route, has forbidden PennEast surveyors to enter her property.
“Should you look up the definition of ‘mitigation,’ which implies ‘to cause one thing to be less harsh or to make it much less severe or painful,’ you already know PennEast is anticipating problems,” she says.
“And,” she provides. “If the consortium of corporations beneath the identify PennEast needs a 100- foot right of method to accommodate development of a 36″ diameter pipe and a forty foot proper of method completely thereafter, how will they ‘mitigate’ the harm to my house with the pipeline at present slated to run next to my entrance porch? Even when PennEast moves the pipeline into my area, they’ve already ruined my quickly-to-be certified organic farm. How do you ‘adequately tackle’ that or ‘mitigate’ my livelihood and the well-being of my children. I would no longer be capable of farm to the extent I am farming and could lose my farmland evaluation and organic certification along with the loss of earnings 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 moving my total farmstead, which I am unsure is possible, forcing me to carry a financial burden I can not afford.”
Evans Kids Outside Their Sheepfold, which is on the Pipeline Path
“I am told,” says Evans, “that I would feel the vibration of pressurized fuel shifting by the pipelines 24 hours a day. It would be a constant reminder that an explosion could occur at anytime. I can not imagine the affect it might have on my youngsters’s psychological as well as bodily well being. They might see the destruction of their property from their bedrooms and our entrance door.”
PennEast constantly claims that the pipeline will not be only safe, however that it’ll profit shoppers in southern New Jersey, who’re in nice need of natural gasoline. And while the gas itself won’t be accessible to the towns by means of which the pipeline would be built, PennEast claims that the construction and the jobs created will economically enrich the region. Earlier this 12 months, PennEast released an financial report and affect analysis ready by Econsult Solutions and Drexel University College of Economics whose purpose is to “quantify the financial benefits resulting from the Venture.”
Says the report: “The speedy development and labor impacts of the Undertaking are substantial and would enormously profit native communities through building, labor and venture administration 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 Worldwide Affairs, rebuts the report, saying that “lack of property values (for affected landowners and their neighbors) is likely to be very giant. The communities by which the pipeline would run in New Jersey are basically different from these developed areas the place economists have found comparatively small valuation effects. For more than three many years this area has attracted these seeking to preserve a small space of conventional farms and forest in the dense urban corridor between Washington D.C. and Boston. A lot land has been preserved or protected by means of a variety of programs, which have been paid for by contributions and by transfers of tax burden to different landowners locally.”
“Landowners, each farmers and residents,” he provides, “who have not entered these programs value and protect the land that they own. The result’s a community through which the value of its special character is capitalized in property costs. Consumers on the lookout for an undeveloped haven wouldn’t be interested in the area where the pipeline runs and this value could be misplaced. And this pipeline can’t be taken in isolation. Other pipelines and growth initiatives would add up and essentially change the character of the entire space.”
Piipeline Blowout near Appomattox, Virginia, 2008
Michelle Byers, Executive Director of the brand new Jersey Conservation Foundation, echoes Shafer’s considerations. On the foundation’s web site she addresses the truth that the state of recent Jersey is presently updating its master power plan. Instead of 12 new pipelines proposed to bisect the state, she calls for a larger investment in renewables. “There shouldn’t be clear documentation that these new gas pipelines are needed in New Jersey. The truth is, the opposite is most certainly true,” she says.
“A recent evaluation conducted by Labyrinth Consulting Companies – discovered that the proposed PennEast pipeline alone would result in a fifty three % surplus past present demand in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and concluded that gasoline is certain for different markets, including export overseas. The current rush to construct multiple pipelines in New Jersey runs the risk of significantly over-building, leading to supply that far exceeds actual needs.”
Within the report, petroleum geologist and vitality knowledgeable, Arthur E. Berman says, “Based on present pure gas provide and demand in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, there isn’t any apparent want for fuel that could be transported via 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 within the family for 3 generations, a farm they share with prolonged family. In early August, beneath a deep blue sky, Switzler sits in her dwelling room as a PennEast survey airplane circles her property taking images, making a loop over the neighborhood and returns, slicing the nonetheless air with an insistent loud drone.
The Switzler’s farm is a working farm with a fruit orchard and a large daylily discipline in cultivation for eventual sale of particular person plants. The Switzlers rely on photo voltaic panels for electricity and a carbon seize wood burning stove for heat within the winter. In response to PennEast’s proposed route, the pipeline easement would lower by way of the orchard, the daylily field, and the photo voltaic panels.
On May 15, Switzler, a gifted painter educated on the Academy of Positive Arts in Philadelphia, woke up with what she assumed was another migraine. “The headaches had been occurring on a regular basis since I first turned anxious and threatened by the prospect of the PennEast Pipeline chopping by means of the complete 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 referred to as me each day,” she says. “A man with a southern accent saved telling me that he had essential new data I ought to know, data I can be privy to, only after i allowed them to come survey. Much more upsetting, at a PennEast informational dinner in April, a land agent showed me a map of the route by my property by which they had deleted my house.”
“It was doubly upsetting,” she adds. “As a result of at an earlier meeting, I sat down with another land agent and went by a map of my property with him. And that map contained my house. We marked what was vital to my husband and me – a 150-12 months-previous oak tree, the orchard, the solar panels, the situation of my effectively and where my septic system is buried – with yellow arrows and noted the whole lot with the coordinate.
The second land agent who told me my home was missing wasn’t even fazed by the deletion. He simply mentioned, ‘Properly Google Earth would not all the time have the home on it.'”
“How is that doable when my home predates Google Earth?” she wonders. “The agent mentioned that until I let them on my property they could well use a Google Earth map, threatening by implication that they may route the pipeline immediately by my home. It is unfathomable that in order to clarify the stress and sorrow this has put on my husband, my kids and myself, I must remind pro-pipeline advocates what “house” means to most people. Dwelling is generally the one investment and financial security a family like ours has.”
Switzler’s headache was not a migraine, but a brain hemorrhage, which left her paralyzed and within the hospital for eight weeks. “Ironically,” she says, on the day I returned residence from the hospital, three surveyors were at the edge of my property with survey equipment.
Surveyor on the sting of the Switzler Farm
70% of Landowners in New Jersey Have Refused Survey Entry to their Properties
Switzler, who now walks unsteadily and has lost a few of the high-quality motor expertise she must paint, adds, “It has all the time been clear to impacted land house owners that this is nothing greater than a company saying, ‘We stand to make thousands and thousands of dollars from fracked fuel. Your land is in our approach. We are going to lobby the Federal Power Regulatory Commission to offer us permission to make use of Eminent Area, so that we will take your land and there is nothing you are able to do about it. We do not have to concern ourselves along with your rights or emotions. So comply.'”
At issue, she provides, “are a few of essentially the most fundamental rights of residents – the precise to own property, the proper to scrub water and the suitable to guard pure 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 used to be not on the route a month in the past, and i won’t be on the route ultimately. This is a moving chloro-toluene tower 72 meters target. The process is an expedited farce in favor of gasoline companies, not citizens.”
Because the scoping process 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 instance of every single township in New Jersey in the trail of the pipeline, the Delaware Township committee offered a decision. Among the factors have been these:
1. The taxpayers of 36.67 square mile rural Delaware Township, one hour from New York City and one hour from Philadelphia, in partnership with County, Federal and non-profit businesses, has invested $15, 414, 546.60 within the preservation of 2,146 acres of open house and farmland that’s treasured by 1000’s of holiday makers every year from neighboring states and throughout the nation, giving a lift to the economic system and to the local farms and eating places.
2. New Jersey Conservation Foundation, who has partnered with the township in preserving open house, discovered that PennEast surveyors entered land owned by the muse and Hunterdon Land Trust with out the permission of the owner. On July 30, the foundation issued an order to “cease and desist unauthorized entry and survey actions.
After tons of of conferences through which neighbors obtained to know and respect one another for their love of one of the most historic and stunning places within the U.S., and for his or her pragmatic response to a pipeline they consider is redundant; and with an understanding that the battle to avoid wasting 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 access on any and all Township-owned lands.
PennEast plans to submit its formal software to the Federal Power Regulatory Commission in September.
“I painted “Artifact” in my studio on my Hunterdon County farm,” says Angele Switzler. “It is a illustration of a very small arrowhead I keep there. This arrowhead is of significance to me as a result of my father is Wasco Indian, raised on the Heat Springs Indian Reservation in Central Oregon. The arrowhead is introduced rising from the river as a totem to the common reality that in order to survive, we should turn into engaged in and linked to our atmosphere. For our setting, like my farm, binds us to our forefathers and mothers and turns into our legacy to our kids.”
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 brand new Jersey Division of Environmental Safety, the new Jersey State Agricultural Fee, Hunterdon County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Mercer County Board of Freeholders, Hunterdon County Agriculture Improvement Board, affected communities in Luzerne, Carbon, Northampton and Bucks Counties in Pennsylvania and Hunterdon and Mercer Counties in New Jersey, the new Jersey League of Municipalities, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Hunterdon land Trust and the Delaware Township Residents In opposition to the PennEast Pipeline (DTCAPP).
Joy E. Stocke writes continuously about environmental issues. She is the founder and Editor in Chief of the net journal, Wild River Evaluation.