It’s 1:07 AM and I can’t sleep.
This has become the norm for the past two months so I’m used to it by now. Eventually the body will shut itself down even if the mind doesn’t follow suit. A few hours later, I’ll wake up, roll out of bed in a fog, groan and try to recall if I actually went ten rounds with Tyson while I was sleeping. Because my body sure feels like it. Part of it may be the fact that I’m 43 and not the young buck I used to be. The other part, well, I have you to blame.
The threat (and I use the term intentionally) of your PennEast pipeline is slowly and effectively ripping through the heart of everyone in my family. The uncertainty of our future is the only topic of conversation in our home right now.
Quick aside – this is where I should probably tell you that your proposed natural gas pipeline is due to cut directly through our backyard. And by backyard, I mean in front of the kids playground. Go ahead and look it up, 1 Bellis Lane, Kingwood, NJ. Got it? Good, because you’ll need that as reference for the remainder of this letter.
My daughter has asked me numerous times how someone can waltz right in, seize our land (not to mention destroy her swing set) without us having any means to fight it. I have tried like hell to frame a response that she could comprehend but I’m failing miserably. Any advice on what I can tell her? I tried your statement of “we don’t go through backyards” but for some reason, it didn’t resonate. She suggested we call the police, which broke my heart, but I told her they were actually too busy tracking down another one of your surveying companies who was trespassing.
As each day passes, my parenting skills are eroding. I’m half hearing what the kids are saying and I have no ability to shield them from my emotions. And while they are young and involved in young kid things, they feel it. They get it. They want mom and dad’s attention and admittedly, they aren’t getting it right now.
I am an avid gardener and garden writer and you’ve killed all of my spirit on that front. I can’t bear to set foot outside and dream of what we are potentially in for the next few years. Gardening is all about patience, future planning and the joys of watching it all unfold. It is why I purchased my large park-like lot ten years ago.
You’ve forever destroyed that vision.
In some ways, I want to commend you for allowing my kids to be exposed to one of life’s most important tenets – Greed always wins. Because that is what it is and you know it. It didn’t take long for us to get up to speed …
Actually, one more aside before I proceed.
Quick aside #2 – we were first notified of the July re-route in late August. We were provided with a whole 23 days to come to grips with what was going on, educate ourselves on all things gas pipelines and provide our input to FERC.
Seems fair, three weeks to deal with a life changing event.
I’m not looking to argue renewable energy vs fossil fuels, not only because I’m no expert, but because if I do I know I’ll immediately be labeled as “one of those environmental crazies”. Silly and crazy people who care about the environment, what a bunch of nut jobs, eh? They can take their valid concerns and shove it, right?
While we are on that topic, I’ve read that your PR person likes to refer to the naysayers as a “minor contingent” that does not fairly represent the majority who are clearly in favor of your pipeline. Now I have only been at this for two months or so now (have I mentioned that already?), but I think it is safe to say that the majority are not “in favor”, but uneducated as to the details of the project.
Just in my township alone, I’ve had to make people aware that NONE of the gas will be used by anyone along the route. That PennEast, as a private company, can claim eminent domain and grab a nice chunk of your property (and it does not equal #retirement by the way). And that you can dig a nice swath through our preserved lands we have funded as tax payers.
I then like to inform them that many of us, my township included, live in what has been labeled as an “arsenic hotspot” which of course terrifies us all when it comes to our personal wells. When they learn that this is no amateur analysis, but the analysis of one Dr. Tullis Onstott, Princeton University, they are drawn in. And you know why they listen, because we ALL have personal wells we rely on for our drinking water.
Fortunately for you, your application to FERC already covered this. You’ve indicated that there will be “no construction within 150 feet of any wells”.
Hold on … I literally had to pause before typing that last sentence. I could not stop laughing. That is a good one.
I know someone who can refute that statement in 2 seconds …
Our well is less than 25 feet from your designated “construction zone” and close to 75 feet from the pipeline center. Not to mention the construction zone is 2 feet off of our deck.
Once word spread about this complete well misjudgment (my guess is that your consultants were out of Red Bull and having already missed two deadlines, really had to rush this in) at least a dozen other landowners were quickly identified as being in the same predicament.
Throw in the fact that you intend to use Class 2 pipe rather than the Class 4 pipe your partners lobbied for and I’ve really pulled the uninformed in. Clearly the lives of country folk ain’t as important. They love that one.
So me thinks if you were to be upfront and honest and you know, actually attempted to talk to all of the citizens along the pipeline route, your suggested “vocal minority” would be much larger. But I guess I can’t blame you because working as a clandestine operation has clearly worked in the past and your buddies at FERC let it all pass through without a hint of oversight. I’d probably put in a minimal amount of effort as well.
I just realized that the emotions I’ve felt while writing this letter mirror the emotions we’ve all felt since we’ve heard of your little pipeline project.
We’re tired from owning the burden, as lay people, to show why we not only don’t want your pipeline, but the facts behind why we do not need it.
We’re angry from the realization of how this all works. Call me naïve, but I thought my government had my back. I thought they would actually hold you to a standard that all other companies are held to.
We’re scared to look into the future to see where this all ends. We know the values of our homes will reduce dramatically (and I read your horrific assessment in the application so spare me the retort). “Hey want to buy my house, oh don’t worry about the “kill zone” label.”
We’re concerned because we know we’ll need to test our wells weekly. Drinking water will never feel safe.
Rinse and repeat.
Thank you in advance for taking the time out to read this letter.
I look forward to your rebuttal.