To the Editor,
Imagine this: You are trying to build a new gas pipeline, but the surrounding community has raised serious health, safety, and environmental concerns about it. And, the state agency representing utilities customers says the pipeline isn’t needed and would bring “unduly generous” profits to you. The project’s business case is looking grim.
What’s your next move?
If you’re PennEast, apparently you try to win over skeptics by claiming your project will provide that most cherished of New Jerseyans’ goals: “property tax relief.”
Well, this resident of a town the pipeline would plow through isn’t buying PennEast’s Trojan Horse.
In newspaper ads and mailers to residents, PennEast says its pipeline would bring more than $18 million in new property tax relief in its first five years. Setting aside that this isn’t much money when you divide by six municipalities and five years, the fact remains that PennEast’s latest public relations ploy ignores the costs that would accompany its supposed windfall. There would be risks to drinking water, possible arsenic contamination, loss or irreparable damage to preserved open spaces and farmland, and danger to homeowners’ wells. Try selling your home if your well is dry or poisoned.
PennEast’s pitch hides the fact the property tax contributions go down after five years.
The bottom line is that the “financial benefits” to taxpayers would hardly outweigh the many long-term dangers that the pipeline would bring to our communities.
Recently, the NJ Division of Rate Counsel, responsible for protecting utility customers, blasted PennEast for proposing a pipeline that isn’t needed to meet New Jersey’s gas demand now or in the future. And, the Rate Counsel said PennEast would get an outrageous return on its investment. This seems to have made PennEast rethink its PR strategy, when it should be rethinking the pipeline itself.
We all want lower property taxes. We also know a bad deal when we see it.
Lucia Stout Huebner