MercerMe is live tonight at the Hopewell Township PennEast gas pipeline meeting and will be providing live Facebook and Twitter updates
7:15: “open season” over and the company believes demand is there. So much that the size may be increased from 30 to 36 inches in size.
7:30: more overview of the process and the groups they plan to meet with, governments and NGOs
7:35: company says it is committed to going through the full EIS process.
7:36: Penneast talking about “first steps” — especially if you received a letter from them, you can expect “land agents” to contact you to survey your property; if you don’t want representatives to show up unannounced, they will make an appointment with you and you can also have friends/family/attorney appear at the meeting
7:43: Dante D’Allesandro talking about “restoration” when they clear the property;
7:49: Safety standards and methods being discussed. Rep says “100 years from now” this pipe will look just as good as it does today.
7:51: pipe to be tested every year – and will run a ‘pig’ test that runs a probe through the pipe every seven years.
7:55: committed to community – plan to attend community events and fundraisers.
8:00: brief mention of benefits and ‘fair compensation’ for owners. More data to come on what impact on local economy.
Mayor opening up the floor to questions- limited to 2:00 per person.
8:04: first questions on whether the town will have a position – or be compensated – and some technical questions on safety and the type of the pipe. (1480psi)
8:07: questions on demand and whether gas would be exported, response that 84% of gas will stay in state. Presented in terms of redundancy. Question on effect on well water – answer is that water would be ‘tested’. Pipeline path will zig and zag due to opposition.
8:12: question on routing through conservation areas receives loud response from the crowd. Company states that they are still mapping the area and gathering information.
8:18: question on pre-condemnation access for surveying. Company does not have the right to enter property prior to the issuance of the FERC certificate, and has to resort to other information if refused.
8:23: reference to re:routing of interstate 95 is made to loud applause.
8:28: Mayor: meeting would be very short of the Township got to decide on decision.
8:50: Pennington owner of organic farm asked questions about safety issues and also asked whether it would preclude farms from having orchards; Penneast reps said that the land strip would be narrow.
Also asked what would happen if everyone refused access to their properties. Penneast reps directed the community member to the FERC regulations.
8:54: Question about safety record. UGI rep says that they have had no incidents. When pushed, questioner asked about the safety records of the other companies. Mayor requested these safety records be submitted to the Township.
8:57: Community member spoke about concerns about what will happen when the pipes are no longer in use and the resulting ground pollution.
9:02: “I’m not interested in the rerouting of this pipeline. I’m not interested in this pipeline existing. The creation of this pipeline creates more of a demand for fracking and the more natural gas you are extracting, the less demand for renewable clean energy sources,” said one community commenter. “If we just talk about how horrible the pipeline is, then pennies will push it through. We should fight it not just for Hopewell Township but for the planet.” Also requested that the Township makes a formal opposition to the pipeline.
9:22: Delaware Riverkeeper Maya K. van Rossum spoke about the community, water, creek devastation caused by pipelines. van Rossum also spoke about the health and environmental effects of extraction. Encourages people to visit the Delaware Riverkeeper website and NJ Sierra Club. And she offered strong opposition to the pipeline project while encouraging everyone to oppose the project in its entirety rather than opposing its location.
9:30: Question whether the Township has started to formulate a plan for future negotiations with Penneast and suggested that the Township hire an attorney skilled at condemnation issues. Mayor said that they had made no plans yet.
9:32: Jim Waltman from Stonybrook Millstone Watershed Association spoke. The Penneast website touts benefits to communities from siting from a pipeline and Waltman wants to know what businesses would be attracted by the pipeline. He asked if Penneast would commit tonight to complying with the existing environmental measures in place and avoid “category 1” streams. As for the restoration, Waltman said that Penneast established an “impossible to achieve goal” of returning land to the original condition and he wants to know who the arbitrator/referee of those goals. He said he wants the answers in writing.
9:41: Commenter wants to know more about the environmental impact statements and suggests that windmills should be placed along the proposed pipeline route instead.
9:46: Compressor stations — Penneast said there are scenarios with between 1-3 stations and none would be in NJ. Compressor stations are the units that takes gases from a lower pressure and compresses it with a piston and discharges it. The size could range between a house and a warehouse depending on the needs. Mayor Sandom told them that they should tell Township how many and the size.
9:51: NJ Sierra Club representative spoke asking several questions about property owner notification and costs, including whether a property owner could be entitled to a lower tax assessment, whether the pipeline company would pay a PILOT to the township and whether local utilities and neighborhoods could “tap” into the line for local use.
9:58: Who is the user of the utility? Elizabethtown Gas says existing and future customers. Mayor Sandom wants to know who Elizabethtown services in Hopewell Township.
9:59: Question about the lifespan of the Marcellus Shale fracking wells. Penneast rep does not know the answer. Mayor Sandom again requested Penneast to provide the answer afterwards.
10:09: “You’re putting pipes in our ground that will undoubtedly run out,” Mayor Sandom.
10:11: Community member urged the Township to press Penneast representatives to answer the follow-up questions to the Township and residents’ satisfaction.
10:15: Questions pressing Penneast about prior incidents and safety precautions.
10:23: Committee member Harvey Lester asked about what happened to the concept of co-locating the pipeline with the Transco pipeline that appears to parallel locations with the same end-point. Lester also asked, “If the pipeline has to run, does it have to run through farms, forests, wetlands, rivers. Can you put this pipeline under streets that already exists?” And finally Lester accused the pipeline company from not being fully transparent and would like verification of provided information regarding how Penneast arrived to current proposed plan and from here on.
10:27: Committee member Todd Brant asked about the possible future use of the pipeline.
10:29: If you have questions that you want answered, direct them to the Township. The answers will also be provided on the website.
Ryan Kennedy also contributed to this live posting.