To the editor:
On the heels of this month’s series of natural gas explosions in Boston, many Delaware Township residents along the path of the proposed natural gas pipeline route have been harassed by agents of PennEast. A company called Western Land Services is engaging in high pressure sales techniques to “give” away free water quality tests in exchange for residents allowing access to their properties. So after attempting in Federal court to take land from Delaware Township residents (along with land of our neighbors in Alexandria, Holland, Kingwood, West Amwell, and Hopewell Townships), PennEast is trying everything it can to gain access to properties of people who do not want them there.
Delaware Township has been opposed to this pipeline since Sept. 29, 2014 when the Township Committee issued its initial resolution in opposition to the pipeline. Four years later we continue to fight this scheme for the same reasons:
- It is unnecessary since the supply for natural gas in New Jersey and Eastern PA already outweighs the demand.
- The route chosen deliberately targets preserved land.
- The route endangers the drinking water of those who live on and beyond the proposed route.
- Most residents along the route do not want a pipeline on their property.
If PennEast had proposed a path that included only properties of people who wanted the pipeline then they might have taken a more fair approach to this project. Instead, PennEast has relied on the heavy handed policies of FERC, which allow for a private, for-profit company to take our land with no justification whatever. It is worth noting that this project is actually opposed by one of the FERC commissioners because he does not believe that PennEast has demonstrated need.
The tragedy in north Boston serves as a reminder the PennEast project requires a serious level of scrutiny far greater than that which was given to similar pipelines in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Illinois, all which have experienced explosions in just the past year. Delaware Township residents deserve better.
We in Delaware Township will continue to play an active role in this fight. We will work to see that NJ DEP follows the letter of the law and rejects PennEast’s applications for land use permits. There is still much work to be done.
Samuel H. Thompson
Editor's note: The author is the mayor of Delaware Township.