2 Victories! Trenton Times reports on DEP FERC letter & Mercer County Rescinds Survey Permission!


If you need to let PennEast know (or remind them) that you don’t allow access to your land, here’s the letter to refuse survey.   Be on the lookout. Surveyors are all over the area and have been cited trespassing.  If surveyors are on your property without your permission, you are within your rights to call the police and file a police report.   refuse survey doc

Pipeline opponents claiming victory

A letter from the DEP has stated the agency does not have enough information to issue permits to PennEast to begin work.
– By Keith Brown, For Times of Trenton
Opponents of the proposed PennEast pipeline are claiming a victory after the state Department of Environmental Protection said it doesn’t have enough information to evaluate the permits needed to build the $1.2 billion natural gas conduit.
Because only about a third of the property owners in the proposed pipeline’s path through Hunterdon and Mercer counties have allowed the company to perform surveys, the DEP doesn’t have enough information to determine which permits PennEast will need, according to a July 2 DEP letter.
“The best way to stop PennEast is to prevent them from getting on your land and getting information for permits and approvals,” New Jersey Sierra Club President Jeff Tittel said in a news release. “By sticking together, not letting them on your property, and not supporting an alternative route, that’s how we can stop this pipeline.”

With preliminary work incomplete, the department is unable to complete a formal review of the proposal, including issuing necessary permits to begin work.
“It does not even make sense for us to review the project with so little access from public and private owners in New Jersey secured at this time,” department spokesman Lawrence Hajna said.
That’s good news to pipeline opponents, who lauded homeowners along the proposed path of the pipeline, which stretches from northeastern Pennsylvania to Hopewell Township.
“This letter from DEP is a major roadblock for PennEast,” Tittel said.
Representatives for PennEast downplayed the DEP’s letter, saying it is merely part of the approval process.
“This is all in line with what PennEast hopes to achieve,’’ Patricia Kornick, spokeswoman for PennEast, said. “Contrary to being a setback, this provides a clear, constructive roadmap for PennEast.’’
The DEP’s letter was sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has final say over the approval of the pipeline. PennEast is in a pre-application stage of the federal approval process. The company plans to make a formal application in the third quarter of this year, Kornick said.
The DEP in its letter said it cannot complete a review of land-use or water-quality permits “if the potential impact surveys and mitigation and restoration plans’’ are incomplete.
PennEast is progressing through an early phase of the application process in which feedback is sought from various agencies and landowners, Kornick said. Based on that feedback, the pipeline route is changing — something that will be difficult to do once a formal application is submitted to FERC.
There have been at least six alterations of the route, according to the company’s website. The most recent route was released in March.
PennEast is now doing surveys on public property and getting permission to survey private properties along the route as well.
“We’re not asking to buy the property,” Kornick said, “we’re asking to learn more about the property.”
She also said that after adjustments were made, half of the pipeline’s total route now fits with existing utility rights-of-way, a significant issue raised by the New Jersey DEP.
PennEast, a consortium of natural gas companies backed by all four natural gas providers in the state, wants to build the 110-mile, 36-inch pipeline from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania to Hopewell Township.
“Residents along the proposed pipeline continue to stand strong and united against PennEast and will continue to hold the line” said Patty Cronheim, founder Hopewell Township Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline. “PennEast is failing to gain ground in our communities as we work together to put a big stop sign on this destructive, unwanted project.”
If approved, the pipeline would begin construction in late 2017 and begin operation in early 2018, Kornick said.
This article contains reporting from Steve Novak.


TRENTON — Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes today informed officials associated with the proposed PennEast Pipeline Project that the company would no longer have access to lands owned by Mercer County for the purpose of surveying the property to facilitate the project. This decision was reached as a result of the company performing soil borings on Baldpate Mountain, which the county has deemed as potentially environmentally harmful.

PennEast has no legal obligation to consult with the county to access or map public land. But in order to understand the full and possible impact to county parkland, the county believed that granting access to the company to delineate wetlands and to survey would provide the knowledge necessary to wage a battle to protect county open space. In light of the intrusion on numerous ecosystems and news that the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection has been unable to collect enough information to issue permits to PennEast to perform work, the county has blocked further access to its property.

Mercer County first became aware of the proposed PennEast Pipeline Project in fall 2014. Preliminary maps showed the underground gas line bisecting pristine parkland, preserved open space, farmland, woodlands and wetlands throughout Mercer Meadows, including the Rosedale Lake, Equestrian Center, Ecological, and Farm districts.

County Executive Hughes expressed vehement opposition to the proposed pipeline cutting through environmentally sensitive open space purchased with county tax dollars, on the record through a statement issued in October 2014, in a joint resolution with the Board of Chosen Freeholders in November 2014 and in testimony to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in February 2015. (attachments)

As a result of the county urging PennEast to co-locate the proposed gas line with existing utility rights of way, the fragile ecosystems in Mercer Meadows and Rosedale will not be impacted. In fact, the company’s initial proposal to FERC revealed the proposed path would cut through pristine ground including fragile wetlands. Instead, the current proposal being presented to FERC puts more than 85 percent of the pipeline in Mercer County within existing public utility rights of way.

Unless this project receives federal approval, the county will no longer permit any soil borings to occur on Baldpate Mountain. The county is prepared to fight on the behalf of county interests and to fight for the open space it has purchased. The county remains opposed to the pipeline.


If you need to let PennEast know (or remind them) that you don’t allow access to your land, here’s the letter to refuse survey.   Be on the lookout. Surveyors are all over the area and have been cited trespassing.  If surveyors are on your property without your permission, you are within your rights to call the police and file a police report.


Riverkeeper Video of Survey Damage

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