Last night, Hopewell Township held a special committee meeting to specifically address FERC’s upcoming scoping meetings, which are the opportunity for members of the effected communities (landowners, residents, environmentalists, economics, etc.) to express to FERC specific objections to the PennEast pipeline. The only scoping meeting in New Jersey will be Tuesday January 27th at 6pm at The College of New Jersey in Ewing.
While the weather was snowy, about 50 concerned individuals attended to express their concerns to Township representatives. Some of the major issues raised included 1) efforts to ensure robust attendance at the upcoming scoping meeting; 2) concern about negative effects on well-water purity, in particular arsenic contamination from construction and the pipeline itself; 3) nesting birds at Baldpate and the effect of construction noise; 4) that the new route intersects with Howell Living History Farm; and 5) the costs of additional security necessary once a pipeline is constructed in a particular geographic area.
In efforts to address the environmental concerns, Hopewell Township retained environmental expert, Mark Gallagher from Princeton Hydro, who has extensive experience with environmental issues and pipelines, having just represented Princeton in their recent battle, explained Pogorzelski.
Months after PennEast’s open house during which there were hints at co-location, Hopewell Township finally received a copy of PennEast’s alternate co-location route, referred by PennEast as the “preferred route.” The reason for this terminology was explained to the Township in a letter from Jeffrey England PennEast PipelineProject Manager to Paul Pogorzelski, Township Administrator/Engineer dated January 21, 2014.
“As we work through the process, we refer to the various routes as ‘alternatives,’… That being said, there is only ever one and only one ‘preferred alternative’ at any given time and any alternatives prior to that are filed away as something that we evaluated internally, but do not recommend. PennEast is currently focusing its resources on continuing to evaluate and refine the route filed with the FERC on January 16th as that is our ‘preferred alternative’ at this time,” explained Jeffrey England in the January 21 letter.
However one resident raised objections to the Township adopting the terminology, “It is insulting to refer to a particular route as ‘preferred’ when that has not been something that the Township determined.”
Here is a link to the Township website to new route maps prepared by PennEast. Pogorzelski explained the map in detail. The red line on the Pennington map that forms a “t” near Blackwell Road is the Transco Pipeline — this is the starting point (or ending depending on the direction of the flow, I guess). The green line is the new “co-location route” that crosses Pennington Lawrenceville, the circle, and the Shop Rite property.
“Then it goes toward Reed Road and then begin to co-lcoate with existing power lines heading west toward Scotch Road, opposite the municipal building where the ponds is, through Algers to Bear Tavern Road through power lines to top of the hill toward Baldpate through that preserved property to Howell Living History Farm to Valley Road staying adjacent to the power line easements,” explained Pogorzelski.
Numerous times last night, Hopewell Township mayor Harvey Lester along with committee members implored local residents to also attend the meeting next Tuesday to make sure these comments are put into the official record to FERC.
For guidance on issues to bring up to FERC at the scoping meeting, Patty Cronheim, Coordinator with the Hopewell Township Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline (HTCAPP) offered a list of talking points and provided links to surveys for landowners available on the HTCAPP website.
Stay tuned. MercerMe will be at the scoping meeting next Tuesday and hopes to see you there!