In August, Alice Orrichio said she received notice from PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC proposing a 30-inch pipeline near her property. Since then, she hasn’t heard anything from company representatives.
“A lot of people aren’t aware,” the Holland Township resident said. “They still don’t know about the pipeline coming in.”
Orrichio said that she and others concerned about the project have been knocking on doors to let residents know about the pipeline and a meeting with company representatives 7 p.m. Wednesday at Whispering Pines, 971 Route 519 in Holland Township.
The proposed $1 billion 100-mile pipeline would cross four counties in Pennsylvania, including Northampton County, before crossing under the Delaware River and through Hunterdon County before stopping in Hopewell in Mercer County.
Those who oppose the pipeline say it’s not a parochial issue, but a larger one that would affect an entire region.
Environmental advocates are critical of the pipeline project because it would cut a 100-foot wide right-of-way through more than 100 miles and at least 1,200 acres across the Delaware River watershed, including the river itself, wetlands, forests and public and private property.
Orrichio said the project could disturb ancient Native American burial grounds in the area as well as osprey nests and other historical sites.
During an informational meeting in Lambertville last month about the approval process, NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said there are eight pipelines being proposed in New Jersey, which has been relatively pipeline-free until recently. He said companies are able to pay less money to acquire rights of way on preserved land.
New Jersey had been second in the nation in solar energy production, but that ranking has tanked since the state has “become awash in natural gas,” he said.
Kate Millsaps, the Sierra Club’s conservation program coordinator, said at the Lambertville meeting that PennEast has not yet submitted its application to the Federal Energy Regulation Commission, which will ultimately decide the pipeline’s fate. She said she expects that would happen in November.
“We haven’t seen the route,” she said. “We don’t know what they are going to do.”
The pipeline company is hoping construction would begin by 2017, and it’s likely PennEast has a preferred route and two alternate routes, according to Millsaps.
Orrichio thinks her property could be near one of those alternative routes and that could be why pipeline company representatives have not followed up.
The gas that the pipeline would carry, which is produced through hydraulic fracturing or fracking, wouldn’t even be for New Jersey, but for New York or Europe, Tittel said. Fracking is the controversial process of breaking up shale to free trapped natural gas by pumping large amounts of water, sand and chemicals underground.
Maya van Rossum, with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, said fracking shouldn’t be part of the area’s future energy needs because sustainable energy options such as solar power are available today.
“We don’t need shale gas development,” she said. “The pipeline is designed to service shale gas development.”
Property owners have a right to deny surveyors access to their property and may send pipeline company representatives a form using certified mail, according to anti-pipeline organizers. The form is available on the group’s website.
Information about the proposal is available at facebook.com/stopthepenneastpipeline, penneastpipeline.com and ferc.gov.
Residents may also petition the Delaware River Basin Commission to exercise jurisdiction over the PennEast Pipeline Project. The petition is located at