FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 07/27/15
Stockton, N.J. (July 27, 2015) - A group of New Jersey landowners met Thursday night in Stockton, NJ at a forum hosted by New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Delaware Riverkeeper Network to learn about the rights they have in responding to the proposed PennEast pipeline, which would transport fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania through Hunterdon and Mercer counties. Landowners and citizens in attendance said the new pipeline would trample property rights and endanger critical waterways, protected farms and open spaces that New Jersey residents have worked so hard to preserve and protect.
Property owner Laura Wilson
People are attracted to this part of New Jersey because so many of us have worked hard to preserve farmland, woodlands, open space and environmentally sensitive areas," said Michele S. Byers, executive director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation. "Now the PennEast pipeline is proposed to rip through this region and industrialize the landscape. All of us who care about the special character of this area need to come together and stop PennEast. The proposed pipeline threatens to undermine 30 years of preservation success and destroy public confidence in New Jersey's preservation programs.
"PennEast is a billion-dollar boondoggle that would destroy way too much land and natural resources, both public and private," said Mary Tolmie of Stockton. "It's simply not worth it."
The PennEast pipeline is just beginning the regulatory approval process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). A major theme voiced by landowners at the gathering was they are exercising their right to say no to PennEast survey crews asking for access to their properties.
"PennEast has not even filed its application with FERC and already they are inflicting harm on our environment and communities. They have drilled in open space and near waterways and inflicted pollution, intrusion and harm. PennEast is using strong language and bullying tactics to instill fear into residents and homeowners suggesting that if they don't play ball with the company by granting surveys that they will somehow be more at risk. The truth is, we are all at risk if PennEast cuts its destructive path through our yards, communities, parks, and environment. Homeowners are among the first line of defense, and it is important they understand their rights so they cannot be tricked into a permission to PennEast they don't really want to give," said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.
The group praised the recent decision by Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes to block PennEast from access to The Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain.
"This is the kind of courage we need our elected officials to show all along the pipeline route," said Laura D. Wilson of Milford, NJ. "If we all stand together, we can fight this unneeded and unwelcome intruder called PennEast."
Landowners in attendance argued New Jersey residents would bear much of the burden of the pipeline without receiving any real benefits.
The landowners also called for greater investment in alternative energy sources like wind and solar.
According to a recent letter filed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) with FERC, landowners have granted survey access to PennEast on less than 35% of the proposed route. The NJDEP told FERC that they would not consider a permit application without the information that must be gathered through property surveys.