Letter to the Editor: Pipeline Opponents Missed the Mark

Dear Editor:

Many of the Sourland Conservancy’s board members attended the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Scoping Hearings in New Jersey. One board member, Jim Amon, struggled to identify the “big picture” regarding opposition to the proposed PennEast Pipeline Project after attending the meeting in West Trenton on February 25th. This is what he came up with:

“There were many interesting comments made at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s scoping hearing on Wednesday, February 25th at the West Trenton Ballroom, the sum of which seemed to thoroughly discredit the pipeline proposal.

The economic impact statement suffers from poor preparation techniques and reached bogus conclusions; the Environmental Impact Statement is to be prepared by a firm with financial interests in fracking; the alignment through preserved lands violates the trust of New Jersey’s taxpayers who paid to forever preserve the land from just this kind of assault; the landowner compensation plan is inadequate because entire properties–not just corridors through them–are being destroyed; cowbird predation of songbird nests will increase; the migratory route of spotted salamanders will be severed; ground and surface water will be polluted; blasting through rock will seal wells; massive amounts of arsenic will be released from the diabase rock in the Sourlands when it is blasted; forests will be fragmented, inviting alien invasive plant species to proliferate.  Many more telling facts were brought forward to support the argument against the pipeline.

Upon reflection, I felt that what was missing was an over-all condemnation of the proposal.  Jeff Tittel, of the NJ Sierra Club, came close when he talked about the Revolutionary War history of the area and called for a new war, but even he missed the bigger picture for me.

When I ask myself, “What is it called when a powerful and rich entity from someplace else comes to an area and despoils their resources in order to increase its wealth, the answer I get is colonialism.  What we are struggling against is corporate colonialism!”

Most people may not be aware that the PennEast Pipeline is a proposed gas transmission project of six corporations: UGI Utilities, AGL Resources, NJR Pipeline Company, Public Service Enterprise Group, South Jersey Industries, and Spectra Energy.

Submitted by

Caroline Katmann, Executive Director, Sourland Conservancy


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  1. This shows exactly why pipelines are regulated at the federal level. Nobody wants a pipeline in their backyard, but almost everybody uses gas, and without pipelines, there would be more severe economic and environmental impacts. Gas would be transported under pressure by trains and trucks, with a much greater risk of contamination and explosion, and gas prices would be higher. The objections of the Sourland Conservancy are entirely reasonable based on their remit, and are at the same time absolutely irrelevant. They are not proposing an alternative to a pipeline, they are just saying ‘we don’t want a pipeline’. Taking into account the big picture, a pipeline is the least environmentally-damaging and safest alternative.

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