There were a lot of angry, concerned people who gathered at the meeting of the Pike County Commissioners on June 6. At issue was the recent approval by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) to allow the Tennessee Pipeline Company (TPC) to construct a 6.5-mile loop around Milford in order to avoid the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area (DWGNRA), a nearly 70,000-acre expanse along the Delaware River that is operated by the National Park Service (NPS).
Coming under a singularly vitriolic attack was John Donahue, the superintendent of the park, who allegedly has opposed TPC laying an additional 36-inch pipe by using an existing right-of-way through the park that now carries a 24-inch pipe. Because of this opposition, it has been claimed that TPC has decided to avoid the problem by bypassing it with the 6.5-mile loop and seeking approval from FERC to do so.
However, Donahue says this is not accurate. “There was never a Tennessee Pipeline Company proposal to use the existing pipeline right-of-way to lay another pipe,” Donahue said. “FERC and the company both state that it is not feasible to do that. No one in the National Park Service can permit it. My superiors cannot permit it. The Department of the Interior cannot permit it. No one is allowed to issue a permit to lay a new gas or oil pipeline except Congress. They know that. I don’t know why people insist on misdirecting the public.”
“John Donahue is not a friend of Pike County,” said Rich Caridi, the chairman of the commissioners.
“We should do what we can to have him removed from his position,” said commissioner Matthew Osterberg.
Families, businesses and municipalities that are located around the loop area attended the meeting to bemoan the project and to explore any actions they could take at this late date to stop it. The project is expected to move ahead on June 27.
We haven’t much time,” said, Caridi, who is leading the charge against the pipeline loop.
“Once FERC approves a project, only official interveners can attempt to get a new hearing,” said Bernie Kozykowski, a local architect who has been active in support of the commissioners.
Also attending was a representative of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, as well as municipal representatives from Milford Township, Westfall Township and Shohola Township and a phalanx of residents whose properties will be affected by the project.
“The Delaware Riverkeeper is one of those interveners who is able to appeal to FERC,” Kozykowski said. It was announced that the Riverkeeper will circulate a petition to open a new hearing. Other petitions are expected to be circulated.
“Donahue says that the park, which is part of the National Park Service system, is to serve the people of the nation and not a particular company,” said commissioner Karl Wagner.
“Aren’t we, the people of Pike County, part of the American people?” Caridi said.
Caridi and the commissioners urged those attending the meeting to write to a list of elected representatives and other key officials.
“Senator Casey, Senator Toomey and Representative Marino have not taken a position on this,” Caridi said.
It was announced at the meeting that state senator Lisa Baker and state representatives Mike Peifer and Rosemary Brown support the commissioners.