(WYOMISSING, Pa.) – Several local governing bodies have another opportunity to provide input into the PennEast Pipeline Project by participating in a transparent, thorough and collaborative process regarding the proposed diversion of portions of open space parcels under the New Jersey Green Acres program.
Under the program, not only does existing open space revert to open space after pipeline construction, the diversion process can result in significantly more open space than exists today.
PennEast sent letters May 5 to three municipalities, two non-profit groups, and Mercer and Hunterdon counties inviting them to participate in a collaborative discussion. The diversion process is initiated by the property owner, including governing bodies and private entities.
PennEast proposes to cross approximately 15 Green Acres encumbered parcels, most of which already have existing overhead electric transmission lines along which the pipeline will be installed. By doing so, PennEast will collocate approximately 80 percent of the route within these parcels with existing overhead electric transmission lines. Collocating greatly reduces the need for tree clearing relative to other undisturbed lands, and minimizes community impacts. Once the Pipeline is installed approximately four feet underground, the land will be restored with native vegetation and outdoor recreational and farming activities can resume. A 30-foot to 50-foot permanent right of way will be maintained, though there will be no restrictions for walking, running or otherwise accessing the right of way.
“We look forward to working with the local government entities on this diversion process,” said Peter Terranova, chair, PennEast board of managers. “Together, we can identify new opportunities to acquire more open space for these communities while ensuring that open space remains an important part of New Jersey’s future. We can lower energy costs for New Jersey families, support cleaner air with clean-burning American energy, create thousands of jobs, and be a collaborative partner in securing more open space than exists today for local communities. That’s a win-win for New Jersey.”
The Green Acres diversion process is governed by New Jersey regulations that require participation by the County, municipal bodies and private parties that have ownership stakes in the parcels. PennEast anticipates a thorough dialogue, eventually resulting in a formal public hearing process, to determine ways to further limit environmental impacts and incorporate local priorities for new open space acquisition as a result of the diversion process. It is important for counties and municipalities to participate in the Green Acres diversion process so that they will have a voice in the setting of these mitigation values, which can generate significant additional funding opportunities for local open space goals and objectives. Without such participation from counties and municipalities, their opportunity to influence the specifics of such mitigation will be more limited.
“While the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can allow approved pipeline projects to move forward without a completed Green Acres diversion process, PennEast is fully committed to finding common ground and working with local stakeholders to make this Project a success for everyone involved,” said Terranova.
“Although some opposed to the Project have alleged that PennEast is routing through preserved lands to reduce costs, the reality is that all parcel owners are compensated at the highest and best use value of the property,” adds Terranova.
The Green Acres process sets a 4:1 acre compensation standard for replacement land, or a 10:1 ratio for land value compensation, so it is actually more expensive for PennEast to cross a Green Acres property.
For additional information on the Green Acres process, see the fact sheet available at www.PennEastPipeline.com. For additional information on the PennEast Pipeline Project, visit the website or call 844-347-7119.