Wednesday, February 21, 2018

PennEast fights back against landowners blocking pipeline


From Michael Sol Warren's report for NJ.com:
"It's very simple: If you oppose a project like this, one way to stop it is to deny survey access," said Mike Spille, a West Amwell resident whose property abuts the proposed pipeline route. Spille is the founder of West Amwell Citizens Against The Pipeline.
Enter eminent domain.
PennEast is filing eminent domain lawsuits against the unwilling owners, claiming that receiving federal approval gives them the right to access and survey the land. PennEast sent final offers to landowners on Jan. 20, just a day after getting federal approval, and set a Feb. 5 deadline.
"Unfortunately, organized and unaccountable opposition groups have their own political agenda and use landowners' withholding survey access to advance that agenda -- to the detriment of the landowners," said Patricia Kornick, a spokeswoman for PennEast, in a statement. "While PennEast views legal proceedings as emotional, burdensome and costly for all involved, it exercised that last-resort option Feb. 6."
Resistance in the Garden State
According to PennEast, 75 percent of landowners along the proposed route have agreed to provide access for survey crews. But that number incluces New Jersey with Pennsylvania, and the difference in attitude toward the pipeline is staggeringly different in the two states.
According a list compiled by Spille, 50 eminent domain cases have been filed by PennEast in Pennsylvania, which has two-thirds of the proposed route. In New Jersey, which has the final third of the pipeline route, PennEast has filed 147 cases. Those New Jersey claims are spread across six municipalities: Alexandria Township, Delaware Township, Holland Township, Kingwood Township, West Amwell and Hopewell Township.
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