To the Editor:
PennEast has proposed an alternate route for the gas pipeline it would like to construct in our area, from Luzerne County in Pennsylvania, through the Sourland Mountain region in Hunterdon and Mercer Counties in NJ. A map of this route is available on the Sourland Conservancy’s website, www.sourland.org, under Resources / Maps.
This route is being touted by some as being a “better” alternative because parts of it are co- located next to existing right-of-ways for electrical transmission lines; some entities are even promoting this route, even though it is longer and impacts even more of the Sourland Mountain region, including Baldpate Mountain and the Ted Stiles Preserve.
The Sourland Conservancy opposes both proposed pipeline routes. First and foremost the proposed PennEast Pipeline and the damage and risks it would bring cannot be justified, no matter what the route; the gas is not needed, the damages are indelible and none of us will benefit from it – except for the companies that want to profit from it.
Both routes carry devastating impacts to our important regional environment. The most recently proposed route would likely require its own right of way along the electrical lines, requiring tree cutting and blasting. According to C. Sharyn Magee, President of the Washington Crossing Audubon Society, “Extending the width of the power line cut would destroy or degrade adjacent breeding habitat along the length of the mountain…blasting and construction would penetrate deeply into the forest interfering with vocal communication between birds at a critical time during breeding season.” According to Magee, species of conservation concern that would be impacted by disturbances on Baldpate Mountain include Blue-winged Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers and Louisiana Waterthrush.
Fragile headwaters of Sourland streams that flow to the Delaware River, protected wetlands and other natural habitats would have to be crossed and disrupted. The Delaware and Raritan Canal, which supplies more than half a million New Jersey residents with drinking water, as well as Lambertville’s water supply reservoir, will be in harm’s way.
Many tracts of preserved land and historic districts, such as the rural Pleasant Valley Historic District will be impacted. Publicly owned natural treasures on Baldpate Mountain would be disturbed such as Howell Living History Farm and numerous popular trails throughout Baldpate and Washington Crossing State Park.
The Sourland Conservancy urges all concerned citizens to make their opposition to the PennEast Pipeline known to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (www.ferc.org).
The Sourland Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of the ecological integrity, historic resources and special character of the Sourland Mountain region.
Executive Director, Sourland Conservancy