The PennEast Pipeline Company LLC has announced plans to build a 105-mile, 30-inch natural gas pipeline that would stretch from Luzerne County in Pennsylvania to Mercer County in New Jersey, crossing under the Delaware River.

The maps released by PennEast show the general route of the pipeline but do not show specific properties that will be affected. The Sourland Conservancy’s map accompanying this article shows the proposed route superimposed on a map of the Sourlands. This map also shows the preservation status of land parcels in the Sourlands.

It is clear that Hopewell Township, West Amwell Township, and Lambertville are along the proposed route. PennEast has not yet filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) but there are many things you can do now, such as:

* Landowners, when approached by PennEast for permission to survey and for an easement agreement, have a right to deny surveyors access to their land. They can send the pipeline company a deny or rescind form via certified mail. You can find the form at http://bit.ly/stoppenneast.

* Landowners can post “no trespassing” signs.

* Yard signs used throughout a community can be a powerful organizing tool for those opposed to the pipeline project.

* Landowners should ask for all communications with the pipeline company to be documented in writing.

* Landowners who are opposed to the pipeline project should not sign or make any agreements with the pipeline company.

* Communities that negotiate as an organized unit with the pipeline company are more effective than trying to negotiate as an individual with the pipeline company.

* Citizens concerned about the pipeline project should petition the Delaware River Basin Commission to exercise jurisdiction over the PennEast Pipeline Project. Find the petition at www.delawareriverkeeper.org.

* At the township level, townships that are opposed to the pipeline project can pass resolutions opposing the project. Encourage your township committee to pass a resolution describing what is important to your town and why the town opposes the project.

* Find out if there are threatened or endangered species, such as the bog turtle, in your community along the pipeline route. This information is important and often missed by FERC.

* Now is the time to contact municipal, county, and state officials expressing your opposition.

Why is it important to oppose the PennEast Pipeline?

1. The proposed pipeline route goes directly through the Sourland Mountain region. This 90 square-mile “island of biodiversity” is characterized by a fragile ecological balance and the largest contiguous forest in central New Jersey. The Sourland Mountain region’s biological diversity, critical forest, wetland and grassland habitats, and uniquely valuable breathing space in this portion of central New Jersey is seriously threatened by the devastation to the landscape that would occur with the proposed PennEast pipeline.

2. Currently, there are eight newly proposed pipelines in New Jersey, seven of them are in the Delaware Valley. Natural gas pipeline companies are in a rush to build pipelines in order to control the future of energy by promoting the use of more fossil fuels and preventing the development of renewable energy sources. Fighting the PennEast Pipeline is taking a stand against our continued dependence on fossil fuels.

3. It is much cheaper for PennEast to put a pipeline through open space than through an already developed area. Forty-one percent of the Sourland region is preserved — will this land be the target of future pipeline proposals? This pipeline is going through land that has been preserved through the efforts of NJ citizens who value the preservation of open space in order to protect critical habitat, support biodiversity, and maintain the beauty and recreational resources of our state for ourselves and for future generations!

4. New Jersey is quickly becoming the “Crossroads of Natural Gas”, as pipeline companies rush to provide the means to transport the natural gas obtained through fracking in the Marcellus Shale beds of Pennsylvania. How many more will go through the Sourlands, threatening the very existence of this fragile ecosystem? We are told by the pipeline companies that this gas will provide cheaper and safer energy to NJ residents. This is not true! We do not know where this gas is going — its final destination could be other states and other countries.

More pipelines = more drilling = more pipelines = more drilling…

5. Saying NO to natural gas pipelines = saying NO to fracking and shale gas development.

The Sourland Conservancy will continue to provide information about the proposed PennEast pipeline to its email subscribers. Please encourage any Sourland residents who wish to stay informed to sign up for our e-newsletters on our website: www.sourland.org.

Helpful Resources

NJ Sierra Club, www.newjerseysierraclub.org; Delaware Riverkeeper Network, www.delawareriverkeeper.org; Berks Gas Truth, www.gastruth.org; Pipeline Safety Coalition, www.pscoalition.org; Gas Drilling Coalition, www.gdacoalition.org; and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, www.ferc.gov

Also PennEast LLC, www.penneastpipeline.com; and www.facebook.com/stopthepenneastpipeline

Pipeline Meetings

The most effective voices against the pipeline will be those of residents. Check your municipality’s website for upcoming meeting dates and other action alerts.

Monday, September 29, 7 p.m.: Delaware Township, Sergeantsville Fire Company.

Wednesday, October 1, 7 p.m.: Holland Township, Whispering Pines Banquet Hall.

Katmann is executive director of the Sourland Conservancy, 83 Princeton Avenue, Hopewell.

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