WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Plans to put a controversial natural gas pipeline through our area to New Jersey moved one step closer Wednesday night.
It was a chance for both sides to express their concerns about the project which includes parts of Luzerne, Monroe, Carbon and Northampton Counties.
Environmental impact of the PennEast Pipeline project took center stage tonight as the PA Department of Environmental Protection held a public hearing. PennEast Pipeline Company needs the PA DEP to approve its permit applications in order to move forward with Phase 1 of the project.
Wednesday’s virtual public hearing centered on erosion and sediment control and water obstruction and encroachments, a major concern for environmentalists and many residents in the pipeline’s projected path.
“We are asking that the DEP deny the applications for PennEast’s Phase 1 project due to the irreparable harm it will cause the state’s waterways and environment,” Kelsey Krepps of Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign said.
The project involves building one new pipeline to move natural gas through Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Phase 1 is the construction of about 68 miles of pipeline from Dallas Township in Luzerne County to Bethlehem Township in Northampton County.
The hearing brought up some common concerns, including the pipeline’s potential threat to drinking water sources, waterways, ecosystems and protected lands. Lucy Freck of Carbon County lives very close to where the pipeline will cross from the Bethlehem Water Authority into Beltzville.
“I fear they will clear cut and trench this area. It is an area that will suffer multiple environmental impacts and it is highly susceptible to landslides,” Freck said.
David Butterworth called in to support the pipeline. He said he’s a business agent for Pipeliners Local 78, and represents more than 300 workers in Pennsylvania.
“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the PennEast project in 2018 finding the project is in the public interest and could be constructed with minimal impact to the environment,” Butterworth said.
“It pains me that PA could possibly approve damage to our parks, greenspaces, neighborhoods, waterways and climate to allow gas profiteering speculators to build an unnecessary pipeline,” Dakey said.
According to their project website, PennEast expects to have Phase 1 line operational this year, pending approval of permit applications.