Mayor Anzano wants draft
By John Tredrea, Special Writer
Asked by the environmental advocacy group, Food & Water Watch, and borough residents to write a resolution expressing opposition to the proposed PennEast pipeline, Hopewell Borough Council decided Monday night to ask those who want the resolution to submit a draft of one to council for its future consideration.
“Hopewell Township, Pennington, Mercer County and others have already passed resolutions against the pipeline,” Hopewell Borough Mayor Paul Anzano said.
“Our thinking is that if those who want Hopewell Borough to pass a resolution against the line, submission of a draft resolution to us would enable those who want the resolution to propose exactly what they want it to say,” the mayor explained.
According to a website, “Food & Water Watch is a Washington, D.C.-based non-governmental organization and consumer rights group, which focuses on corporate and government accountability relating to food, water, and fishing.”
The group has branch offices in many states, including New Jersey, with a branch in New Brunswick. A representative of Food & Water Watch was not at Monday night’s council meeting.
However, Mayor Anzano said Tuesday he would contact the organization about the idea of submitting a draft resolution opposing the pipeline to the council.
In its mission statement on its website, Food & Water Watch says it “champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.”
At the council meeting, Mayor Anzano said, “I would like to see those who oppose the pipeline give me an alternative rather than just saying ‘no.’¦”
Noting that crude oil is carried on CSX trains that pass through the borough, as well as Pennington and Hopewell Township, Ewing and other area towns, the mayor said that borough residents — who live near the tracks and are concerned about safety — have said they view construction of the pipeline as a possible “trade-off” that could reduce the amount of combustible oil rolling the rails through town.
To that notion, Councilman David Mackie, a geologist by trade, skeptically said: “I doubt there would be a direct relationship” between the pipeline and the oil on rails. “The pipeline would carry natural gas. It’s petroleum on the trains,” he said.
The PennEast line would carry natural gas from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, to a connection with an existing pipeline in Hopewell Township. The 36-inch pipeline would be 105 miles long, with the gas it carries produced by the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.
On that issue Monday night, Mr. Mackie alluded to the use of natural gas versus other forms of fuel.
“With all the environmental issues associated with fracking, there are far more serious ones with coal mining,” he said. “And there are environmental benefits to using natural gas in our homes instead of petroleum. My principal concern with the proposed pipeline is putting it through areas of open space.”
Like others on council, Mr. Mackie said the pipeline, if built, should be co-located with existing pipelines as much as possible.
PennEast said several weeks ago that its currently proposed pipeline route involves co-locating 54 percent of the pipeline with existing lines. Before the route of the proposed line was revised, only 4 percent of the line was co-located, PennEast noted.
In the end and after all is said and done, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will decide if the pipeline is built or not.