Bucks County Herald

Wild & Scenic River committee warns of pipeline effects

TERRY MCCLOUGHAN

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club, was a panelist at the Lower Delaware Wild & Scenic River Management Committee meeting in Kingwood, N.J.

"You all know about PennEast. Well, we are under attack by Penn East. It conflicts with Wild & Scenic Rivers. It will create an ugly scar."

Chair Richard Dodds had opened the meeting with a brief overview of Wild & Scenic's purpose. "We're a partnership between municipalities and river organizations spanning from the Delaware River Water Gap to Trenton. We work with the National Park Service."

"Unlike other meetings about the pipeline, where property owners attend and say, ‘It’s coming through my land,’ this meeting is more about the impacts of how it would affect our landscapes and the activities of the Delaware River."

Tittel said, "It’s like taking your best suit or dress and using a razor blade on it. Well, it's just a cut. But this cut will cause significant damage."

He described the condition of the river before regulations were in place. "Years ago, you couldn't go in the Delaware River or fish in it for shad. The river belongs to us, not PennEast.”

He said that environmental groups aim to slow it down and choke off the project. “The Sierra Club has a dirty dozen pipeline targets list. PennEast is on it. PennEast is a direct threat.”

Tittle continued, "As a group there's lots you can do. Protests and rallies are okay, but it’s ripping apart the permits and creating political pressure. That's how you win. ... We need to save this valley for the future generations."

Tittel and the New Jersey Sierra Club helped pass resolutions against PennEast Pipeline in every town along the proposed route.

Panelist Faith Zerbe, a biologist with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network said, "I'm focusing on pre-assessment of this pipeline. Zerbe, who developed Pipeline Watch to help watchdog the gas industry, gave a detailed report with a slide presentation of some effects and irreversable damage the construction of the pipeline would bring.

"Each mile of pipeline brings 12 to 14 acres of land development,” she said.

“Forests don't have a voice. PennEast wants a 100-foot right-of-way. For a 30 inch pipe? We want to minimize that span.

Keep crunching it down. PennEast suggests a temporary adjacent work space. They do many forest cuts and it impacts the nearby lands."

Zerbe pointed out that 60,000 to 150,000 acres of Pennsylvania forest could be lost to new pipeline construction with sedimentation and erosion issues. There are economic costs of the pipeline and they will affect Delaware River recreation.

Other factors are loss of property value, with reduced market values of homes by 40 percent.

A citizen asked if the pipeline is completed would there be an increase in fracking? The answer was a resounding yes from the panelists: "It's being built to take marcellas shale gas to market."

Contact senators and representatives in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Dodds advised.

The next Wild & Scenic Management Committee meeting is scheduled for Sept. 28.

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