FAR HILLS, N.J. (Aug. 19, 2015) — Landowners whose properties lie in the path of the proposed PennEast pipeline received letters yesterday that read, ”Notice of Intent to Enter Land to Survey.”
“What would you think if you received this?” said Michele Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation, which also received the letter from PennEast because it owns preserved land that falls on the route of the proposed pipeline. “We have heard from landowners who were confused and intimidated by this letter. Contrary to the letter, PennEast has no legal authority to enter or survey land without permission.”
“This is yet another instance of PennEast using scare tactics to mislead landowners into believing that surveyors have carte blanche to enter their properties. Let’s be crystal clear, they do not,” said Patty Cronheim of Hopewell Township Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline. “Landowners have had to proactively notify PennEast to stay off their land. When will they get the message that we don’t need their pipeline and we don’t want it?”
PennEast and its agents have no legal right to access private property unless and until they would be granted the right of eminent domain under a certificate of authority from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). “A decision on whether or not that would happen is likely several years away, so landowners should not feel pressured or rushed by PennEast to make a hasty decision, said Byers.”
Byers also said that recent delays encountered by other proposed pipelines, such as the Constitution line planned to bring Marcellus gas from Pennsylvania to New York, suggest that PennEast’s inability to access land on the proposed route may complicate their process and cause delays that could influence the outcome of the project.
“Landowners should take their time to understand their options, know their rights, and not be pressured by PennEast,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director – Energy, Climate and Natural Resources, New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “It is clear that a strong majority of landowners and residents do not want or need this pipeline and their opposition is having an impact.”