FLEMINGTON, NJ – Hunterdon Freeholder Deputy Director John E. Lanza didn’t like the idea of the PennEast pipeline when the Freeholder board approved a resolution against it five years ago.
He still doesn’t like it.
“What has not changed, among other issues, is this pipeline disturbs a 53-acre well service area in Holland Township,” Lanza said at yesterday’s Freeholder meeting. “And PennEast has given the Board no information that it has done anything to address that.
“In addition, there are over 2,000 acres of Hunterdon County farmland and conservation easements that the taxpayers have paid millions of dollars for, that are necessarily destroyed by the encroachment of the pipeline through those areas,” Lanza said.
Yet some things have changed. PennEast received federal approval in January 2018 for the proposed 120-mile, 36-inch-diameter underground line originating near Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale gas-producing region in Luzerne County, that would traverse western Hunterdon and end at Transco’s pipeline interconnection near Pennington in Mercer County.
The pipeline company received a federal judge’s approval last December to assess and take the New Jersey properties it needs for the project using eminent domain. And PennEast has re-submitted its application to the state Department of Environmental Protection for a Freshwater Wetlands permit.
Another thing that’s changed is the Hunterdon Freeholder board itself, with the addition of Freeholders Susan Soloway and Shaun Van Doren.
“The Freeholder Board in 2014 passed a resolution without opposition, opposing this project for a host of reasons,” Lanza said. “I think it is appropriate that at some point … this Board ought to be heard on its input.”
Lanza is seeking a resolution by the current Board, which would be discussed at the next Freeholder meeting. That will be held at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 3 in the county Administration Building on Main Street in Flemington.
Lanza said the Freeholders have been told that there should be a 30-day comment period by the NJDEP on the application, “and our environmental consultant says that period might be extended out to 90 days simply because of the size and scope and importance of this project.”
The company needs NJDEP approval of the Freshwater Wetlands permit to proceed with pipeline construction.