Hundreds of opponents of the proposed PennEast pipeline gathered at Veteran's Park in Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania, Saturday morning for “March Across The River: Stop PennEast” - a peaceful protest of the proposed PennEast pipeline.
The March began with a Lenni Lenape "Prayer to the River,” then proceeded over the bridge across the Delaware river to a rally in the Municipal Park in Milford, New Jersey. The one mile March and Rally featured several speakers including Hopewell Township resident and Rider University Professor, Michael J. Brogan; Holland Township resident, Susan Dodd Meacham; Bucks County representative, Kaia Elinich of Concerned Citizens Against the Pipeline; Berks Gas Truth founder, Karen Feridun; Delaware Riverkeeper, Maya van Rossum; and NJ Sierra Club Director and Lambertville resident, Jeff Tittel.
Caroline Katmann, Executive Director of the Sourland Conservancy, one of the organizers of the event said, “This March and Rally shows the strength and unity of our opposition to the proposed PennEast pipeline. We come from all walks of life throughout the affected regions (and beyond) in PA and NJ but are united in our conviction that this pipeline project is bad for our environment, bad for our economy and bad for our health and safety. We want to send a message to FERC, PennEast and its affiliates, and our local and state officials: we will continue our smart and strong opposition until PennEast’s application is denied.
In the Sourland region in West Amwell and Hopewell Townships, PennEast’s proposed route would affect approximately 200 acres of forest, 150 acres of agricultural land and over a dozen acres of wetland. Much of this route includes preserved land which was purchased, in part, with taxpayer funds.
Nancy Wilson of Holland Township, one of the rally organizers, said that if the pipeline is approved, PennEast will have the power to take land by eminent domain. This is one of the reasons why residents in communities along the pipeline route are so opposed to it.
Doug O'Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, said that because 70 percent of landowners along the pipeline route have refused PennEast permission to survey and test drill as it prepares its final proposal for approval to build the pipeline, the Department of Environmental Protection can't consider the application because it has insufficient data.
"Today's turnout shows not just a handful of citizens are opposed to the pipeline," O'Malley said. "People are uniting against this issue, and it's working. I really think we will defeat it."
He said that Mercer County has forbidden PennEast from surveying open space and preserved land owned by that county, because PennEast was caught surveying and drilling on Baldpate Mountain without a permit.
"We have pledged to protect the river," Feridun said. "We'll show them that people from both sides of the river are united. My organization beat UGI -- one of the Pennsylvania companies that is part of the PennEast consortium --over another pipeline in Pennsylvania. We'll do it again."
Laurie Cleveland is a Hopewell Township resident and Executive Assistant for the Sourland Conservancy. The Sourland Conservancy's mission is to protect the ecological integrity, historic resources and special character of the Sourland Mountain region through education and advocacy.
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