Trenton, NJ: Sierra NJ reports 4.23.2019 – The DEP’s Historic Preservation Office has identified nine properties in the PennEast Pipeline path that may be eligible for historic preservation. A study prepared for PennEast said just three of the sites might qualify for the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. The HPO said in a letter to FERC that another six sites in Hunterdon and Mercer counties should also be further surveyed for consideration.

“PennEast is trying to run around historic preservation requirements and NJ will not let them. PennEast tried to get off easy by claiming only three properties in its path might be eligible for historic preservation. Now the HPO has stepped in to say that potentially nine sites in PennEast’s path should be saved. Preserving our history is important, and it could also disrupt PennEast’s plans and cause more delays. That can only benefit public opposition to the project,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “PennEast wants to run roughshod over everything it its path, including historic sites. The pipeline must be stopped.”

The HPO agreed with the original PennEast report on the potential historic significance of three sites. They are the Belvidere-Delaware Railroad Historic District that runs from Warren to Mercer County, the Hoagland Farmstead in West Amwell, and a mid-19th century Gothic Revival house in Kingwood. The six additional sites cited by the HPO all contain buildings dating back to the early and mid-19th century, most with historic ties to Hunterdon County agriculture.

“These historic sites are part of our legacy and should not be recklessly destroyed by an unnecessary and dangerous pipeline. Many of the sites are particularly important to Hunterdon County’s history. We need to know more about each of the properties to determine their historic significance. NJ is trying to make sure that happens while PennEast wants to just ram its project through as quickly as possible,” said Tittel.

The HPO recommendations mark another setback for PennEast. In March, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit granted the State of New Jersey their motion for a stay on the PennEast pipeline. That means PennEast cannot start the construction of the pipeline until the court case is over. 

“The Court of Appeals decision delays the PennEast pipeline until court case is decided. That could take a year, or even 2-3 years. When it comes to pipelines or other natural gas projects, the more we can delay, the better the chances of stopping the project. Market conditions can change, and permits can be denied,” said Tittel. “PennEast can still go forward with surveys and apply for DEP permits. However the stay means PennEast cannot get final approval for the pipeline.”

The PennEast Pipeline is 110-mile pipeline that will bring natural gas from the Marcellus Region of Pennsylvania through Hunterdon and Mercer Counties in New Jersey.  The pipeline would threaten the entire Valley including 91 acres of wetlands and over 44 miles of forest, 88 waterways, and over 1,600 acres total. It would cross over important waterways including the Delaware River and Delaware & Raritan Canal. Besides missing their state and federal permits, PennEast still does not have approval from the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). 

 “The PennEast Pipeline threatens open space, farmland, and drinking water as well as historic sites and must be stopped. Public opposition to the project is paying off with every delay, however the court case can still be lost. That is why we need a moratorium on all fossil-fuel projects in the state. The Murphy Administration can also stop the pipeline in its tracks by rejecting its 401 Water Quality Certificate,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This project would cut through an incredible amount of environmentally sensitive areas and historic properties. The more it can be delayed, the better chance we have to stop it altogether.”

(See Historic Preservation Office letter to FERC attached)Attachments area