PennEast Pipeline Opposition
Pat Sziber

On the morning of Friday, July 17, a drilling rig was discovered on the Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain by a WCAS member who had been birding there. The boring was being done along the JCP&L powerline right-of-way near an obscure access point on Pleasant Valley Road near Valley Road. The operation was part of PennEast’s proposed pipeline construction project to carry liquified natural gas 110 miles from fracking operations in Pennsylvania to Hopewell Township near the Pole Farm.

By early Friday evening, news of the drilling operation, along with a photo, had been broadcast widely on the internet. More photos were taken on Saturday, including several that showed a greyish slurry around the bore holes. The wheels of protest were quickly set in motion. Opposition from residents, citizen groups and government entities has been robust. WCAS has gone on record as strongly opposing the route through the Sourlands, Baldpate Mountain and the vicinity of the Pole Farm.

On July 21, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes notified PennEast that the County "...hereby rescinds and terminates the survey permission form, dated December 24, 2014, regarding the PennEast pipeline project. PennEast is directed to immediately CEASE AND DESIST all activities on County property. Please have your company(s) contractor(s) immediately remove all equipment and personnel from the County's property, after returning the property to the condition it enjoyed prior to any work being conducted." Mercer County, one of four owners of the Ted Stiles Preserve, manages the property and had taken a position opposing the pipeline on county preserved lands in October 2014.

Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS), one of the four owners, has also opposed the pipeline. In a July 22 article in an industry online newsletter, a PennEast spokeswoman stated, with respect to the drilling, "PennEast is conducting critical survey work, including geotechnical borings, but only with applicable permits and permission. And the fact is we do have permission." FoHVOS wrote to PennEast on July 23: "The fact is that PennEast did not request, nor did they receive permission from Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space.... Be advised that we would not have given our permission for survey access to the preserve had we been asked."

On July 27, Hopewell Township passed a resolution endorsing the County Executive’s action and stating that "...Hopewell Township objects to granting any survey access at the Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain..." and to "...PennEast Pipeline Company LLC on any and all Township-owned lands."

The 400-ft. wide study corridor shown on a map of Baldpate Mountain provided by PennEast would likely inflict serious and irreparable harm to forest habitat at the preserve. The owners did the right thing by denying access for surveys.

WCAS continues to strongly oppose the PennEast Pipeline through the Sourlands, Baldpate Mountain and in the vicinity of the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm.

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Last revision: Saturday, September 5, 2015