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Residents voice concerns over pipeline to Carbon commissioners

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    Albertine Anthony shows pictures of her property at a meeting in 2015. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO

Published November 17. 2018 07:45AM

Albertine Anthony has called a farmhouse in Towamensing Township home for 93 years.

She is the third generation of her family residing on the preserved land.

Within the property is a spring, which supplies Anthony’s property with water for drinking, septic and everyday use using a gravity system.

But that spring is on the chopping block based on the UGI PennEast pipeline route, members of Save Carbon County say.

“They want to go right through my spring,” Anthony said. “They just don’t care. If they go through there, they are going to spoil it.

“My grandfather was there. My father was there and now I am there 93 years,” she said. “It’s a sad story.”

Anthony’s story is one of many being told as the group fights the pipeline, which is proposed to traverse Carbon County as it snakes through various state parks, water sources and private residences between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

On Thursday, Linda Christman, president of Save Carbon County, and property owners who will be affected by the natural gas pipeline project, again brought their plea to the Carbon County Commissioners as a way to try to stop the pipeline from ruining their lands. The commissioners are registered as interveners on behalf of the county residents.

Christman said that PennEast does not communicate with the landowners and does not treat them with respect when they do.

“Some landowners have been on an emotional roller coaster,” she said. “They have been on the route then off the route and then on the route again, all without even a courtesy notice from PennEast.”

The company has recently changed the proposed route in the pipeline again, but Christman said, no landowner was notified of the change, and an updated route map has not been published recently.

The commissioners took Christman’s words to heart and said they would look into finding out who they could speak with about the residents’ situations.

“There are a lot pros and a lot of cons on this pipeline, and I guess the inevitable is going to happen that it’s going to go through at some point in time; but I think the right thing is to deal with people face to face and communicate with them and try to minimize and mitigate impacts on their properties,” Commissioner William O’Gurek said. It’s incumbent upon us to make an effort to try and contact these people and try to encourage them to sit down with property owners who are affected.”

He said the board will report on their findings in the next few weeks.

Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard agreed with O’Gurek’s thoughts, adding that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things, and it seems based on Christman’s testimony that this is the wrong way.

In January, the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission granted PennEast a certificate of public convenience and necessity, enabling the construction and operation of its proposed pipeline, which is set from Luzerne County to Mercer County, New Jersey.

Less than a month later, PennEast filed 44 eminent domain lawsuits in federal court, 11 of which were for properties in Carbon County.

But PennEast’s progress has been slowed in part due to objections in New Jersey.

On Feb. 1, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection sent the company a letter rejecting its freshwater wetlands permit and federal water quality certification application, and the state also refused an offer from PennEast to purchase land needed for the pipeline’s construction.

Construction for the pipeline is slated to begin in 2019.

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