April 21, 2011 —
The dispute over the proposed gas pipeline among the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, the County of Pike and the National Park Service may soon be resolved.
The difficulties arose when the company, which was seeking to widen the 300 Line Project right-of-way from 50 feet to 125 feet in order to lay a second 30-inch pipe next to its existing 24-inch pipe, was turned down by the National Park Service, which manages the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area (DWGNRA). The line would run from Bradford County, where gas production is intensifying, through Wayne and Pike counties to New Jersey.
The proposed extension, called the Northeast Upgrade Project (NEUP), would provide 636,000 dekatherms per day of increased capacity to the interconnect in New Jersey, serving the growing markets in the Northeast, including New York City, according to company representatives.
Following objections raised by DWGNRA, the company altered its plan and proposed to create a six-mile loop around Milford Borough, thus avoiding the park.
“We have a problem with that since it will cause extensive ground movement and erosion problems in the area,” said Rich Caridi, chairman of the Pike County Commissioners. “There will have to be many stream and wetland crossings, which will add to the disturbance. We want to preserve our landowners from that kind of thing.”
There is also a fear that, if it is blocked, the company will begin an eminent domain procedure, which can have local adverse repercussions.
Caridi said that the company already entered the property of a local resident and cut down over 100 of his trees without the owner’s knowledge or permission. “This kind of thing is causing a lot of bad relations,” he said.
Trying to resolve the matter, Caridi called a meeting of principal stakeholders, along with a representative of Congressman Tom Marino’s office.
The result is that Congress will be asked to alter the provision that prohibits the pipeline cutting through the park.
“That got the agreement of all parties,” Caridi said. “So we’ll have to wait for Congress to answer.”
The existence of the pipeline dispute came up at the meeting of the commissioners on April 13 where the commissioners voted to hire a new district engineer for the county’s conservation district at a salary of $65,000.
“This may seem like an unusually high salary, but we couldn’t get one response to an ad stating that the salary was $60,000,” Caridi said. “Since the county has so many earth-related projects that cut through the county—like the proposed PPL line, and other right-of-way requests—it is imperative that we have someone in the engineer position who is competent and efficient.”