SANDY PERRY, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
PHONE: 908-234-1225, EXT. 104
Statement on Baldpate Mountain pipeline threat
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 07/21/15
"I applaud Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes for his actions today to defend the Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain by blocking PennEast's access to the preserve. The County Executive knows how critical it is to protect our preserved lands, which our community worked so hard to save," said Michele Byers, executive director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
COUNTY OF MERCER
McDADE ADMINISTRATION BUILDING
640 SOUTH BROAD STREET
P.O. BOX 8068
TRENTON, NEW JERSEY 08650-8068
BRIAN M. HUGHES
DATE: July 20, 2015 MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Willmot
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (609) 278-7137
MERCER BLOCKS ACCESS TO COUNTY LAND FOR PROPOSED PIPELINE PROJECT
TRENTON -- Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes today informed officials associated with the proposed PennEast Pipeline Project that the company would no longer have access to lands owned by Mercer County for the purpose of surveying the property to facilitate the project. This decision was reached as a result of the company performing soil borings on Baldpate Mountain, which the county has deemed as potentially environmentally harmful.
PennEast has no legal obligation to consult with the county to access or map public land. But in order to understand the full and possible impact to county parkland, the county believed that granting access to the company to delineate wetlands and to survey would provide the knowledge necessary to wage a battle to protect county open space. In light of the intrusion on numerous ecosystems and news that the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection has been unable to collect enough information to issue permits to PennEast to perform work, the county has blocked further access to its property.
Mercer County first became aware of the proposed PennEast Pipeline Project in fall 2014. Preliminary maps showed the underground gas line bisecting pristine parkland, preserved open space, farmland, woodlands and wetlands throughout Mercer Meadows, including the Rosedale Lake, Equestrian Center, Ecological, and Farm districts.
County Executive Hughes expressed vehement opposition to the proposed pipeline cutting through environmentally sensitive open space purchased with county tax dollars, on the record through a statement issued in October 2014, in a joint resolution with the Board of Chosen Freeholders in November 2014 and in testimony to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in February 2015.
As a result of the county urging PennEast to co-locate the proposed gas line with existing utility rights of way, the fragile ecosystems in Mercer Meadows and Rosedale will not be impacted. In fact, the company's initial proposal to FERC revealed the proposed path would cut through pristine ground including fragile wetlands. Instead, the current proposal being presented to FERC puts more than 85 percent of the pipeline in Mercer County within existing public utility rights of way.
Unless this project receives federal approval, the county will no longer permit any soil borings to occur on Baldpate Mountain. The county is prepared to fight on the behalf of county interests and to fight for the open space it has purchased. The county remains opposed to the pipeline.
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