Inside Your Town

Citizens voice concern over proposed Commonwealth Pipeline

ELVERSON, Pa. - Plans to run a large natural gas pipeline through southeastern Pennsylvania are causing quite a stir in Berks and Chester counties.

A community meeting was held Wednesday night at the Warwick Township building in Elverson to inform residents about the potential impacts the Commonwealth Pipeline would have if it were approved. Many people in the audience were opposed to the pipeline and voiced their concern.

"We protested Limerick Power Plant years ago and saw no benefit from construction but an eyesore.... this will be the same," said Lane Adams of Warwick Township.

Representatives from Pipeline Safety Coalition, Berks Gas Truth, Delaware Riverkeeper and local leaders discussed the negative impacts that would result from the pipeline in front of a packed room. "I have never seen a community meeting filled with so many concerned people," said Karen Feridun of Berks Gas Truth.

Holding up large pictures of damaged areas where pipelines were installed, Maya van Rossum of Delaware Riverkeeper discussed how large areas were "devastated with contaminated soil and clear cut forests." Stressing the need to work together Rossum added, "The public is at a disadvantage in this fight and that is why banding together is important."

The proposed Commonwealth Pipeline would carry natural gas from the Marcellus gas shale in Lycoming County than continue on through Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Berks, and Chester counties.

The 30-inch diameter pipe would snake its way through 120 miles of urban and woodland areas, including French Creek State Park in Chester and Berks counties.

"Three separate companies want to build the pipeline. It's a very big project for them... and from their press releases they indicate they have enough financial commitments to move forward," said Jim Wendelgass, manager of West Vincent Twp.

 A website formed by Inergy Midstream, L.P., UGI Energy Services, Inc. and Capitol Energy Ventures called, discusses their goal to work together to "market and develop a new interstate natural gas pipeline known as the Commonwealth Pipeline."  The companies say such growth is needed for the "high-growth demand markets across southeastern Pennsylvania and the greater Mid-Atlantic region."

Wendelgass said once residents receive letters from the power companies about possible easements on their land for the pipeline, they have a limited amount of time to intervene.  "Be aware of what your rights are.  Once the power companies file an application with the Federal Energy Regulation Commission, homeowners have 21 days to intervene," said Wendelgass, adding, "If you don't intervene within that time window, you lose certain rights."

Although meeting organizer Amy Griffiths said this is just the beginning of the long battle ahead, she stressed the importance of being proactive and the need to stay informed.

"We need to work together, not neighbor verses neighbor.  This is the beginning, but it's important to get an early start," she said.

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