Concerned citizens from New Jersey and Pennsylvania rallied in opposition to the proposed PennEast pipeline, on Sunday, asserting that the proposed pipeline is not needed and threatens the public’s health and safety. HALT (Homeowners Against Land Taking) PennEast, a group of landowners along the pipeline’s path were joined by other groups calling on policymakers to put the public first and stop the PennEast project.
The focal point of their protest was last week’s decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue a final Environmental Impact Statement for the pipeline proposal that has drawn bipartisan opposition from lawmakers in the two states.
A large crowd turned out for the patriotic-themed rally against PennEast at the Prallsville Mill in Stockton, NJ. Led by a George Washington re-enactor on horseback reading a “Citizens’ Declaration of Opposition to PennEast,” opposers called on FERC and other state and federal decision-makers to reject a PennEast application that falls far short of offering proof of need or safety.
Fife and drum musicians in period costume and group singing led by Community Organizers provided spirited demonstration of the strong public criticism of the project.
“We stand united in our continued opposition to the proposed PennEast pipeline. PennEast has failed to demonstrate the need for this redundant fossil fuel pipeline, and does not address the substantive concerns put on the record by Hopewell Township, our Board of Health and residents, and other federal and state agencies,” said Kevin Kuchinski, Hopewell Township mayor. “We are concerned about the irreparable harm this pipeline would cause to our drinking water and to how it would degrade our environment, threaten endangered wildlife in New Jersey, and put our citizens in danger. PennEast is seeking to take advantage of public investments in open space and preserved farmland for private gains, and utility customers will ultimately be left holding the bag, paying higher natural gas rates.”
“FERC’s bad habit of approving pipelines and allowing land condemnation isn’t stopping us from building a solid court case contesting this preposterous PennEast application and possible unjustified taking of our personal property,” said Vince DiBianca, trustee of HALT PennEast.
“FERC didn’t properly weigh impacts to the human environment against supposed public benefits of the project as required by federal law. FERC blithely assumes ‘If they have paying customers, it must be for the public good.’ It never performs a deeper analysis into who those customers are, or what their motives may be,” said Mike Spille, founder of West Amwell Citizens Against the Pipeline. “In PennEast’s case, those ‘customers’ are actually the owners of the pipeline. They are creating an artificial market that only benefits them.”
Displayed at the rally was a large map of the PennEast route showing proximity to schools, historic sites, streams, and other fragile natural features. Attendees, from children to senior citizens, placed small flags onto the map to show where they live, work, or play.
Event cosponsors included the NJ Highlands Coalition, ReThink Energy NJ, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Durham Citizens Against the Pipeline (CAP), Holland CAP, Alexandria CAP, Kingwood CAP, Lambertville CAP, West Amwell CAP, and Hopewell Township CAP.