MILFORD TOWNSHIP, Pa. – On Tuesday morning, two local youth blocked the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Northeast Upgrade construction by locking themselves through a Delaware State forest gate in Milford Township for the second consecutive day. Allison Petryk of Vernon, NJ and Alex Lotorto of Milford, PA plan to remain at the gate at the end of Schocopee Road throughout the work day again to prevent access by pipeline tree clearing crews.
Tree clearing began last Friday within twenty four hours of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Notice to Proceed.
Yesterday, residents from throughout the impacted area of Pennsylvania and New Jersey rallied at George Feighners home across the river from Milford in Montague, NJ. Mr. Feighner, who visited the Milford blockade after the rally at his home, is 86-years old and had his property eminent dominated by FERC’s decision as he remains in legal appeals. Tree clearing up to his home commenced on Friday morning.
The new Loop 323 is meant to add more volume to the Tennessee Pipeline system to service Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling using the controversial “fracking” method and, most likely, new gas-fired power plants or gas exports. Loop 323 will stretch from Milford to Vernon as additional pipeline loops continue to be constructed elsewhere along the line. The Tennessee Pipeline is the main west to east transmission line in northern Pennsylvania.
The final decision to stop the clear cutting and open a new review lies with the voting members of the Delaware River Basin Commission. For three years, Delaware Riverkeeper Network and other environmentalists have urged the DRBC to review and permit pipeline projects. Recently, the members agreed to issue a docket to review pipeline construction that occurred in 2011 for the Tennessee and Columbia Pipelines, but not for the current construction. Voting members who can stop this project include Democrat President Obama who, in his State of the Union Address, stated that his “administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.” Additionally, Governors Andrew Cuomo, Jack Markell, Tom Corbett, and Chris Christie vote on the commission.
In order to force President Obama to make good on his promise, the reinforced PVC pipe lockbox adjoining Lotorto and Petryk is wrapped in red ribbon, which the police would inevitably cut to remove the blockaders and arrest them. Additionally, all FERC commissioners have been either appointed or re-appointed by President Obama.
The site is located toward the end of Schocopee Road in Milford where drivers can follow Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.’s orange survey flags. The state forest site offers public parking within the shoulder and a legal place to stand at a distance, but in view of the blockade.
“I was born and raised in Vernon, NJ, where the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Loop 324 has already impacted my community and where Loop 323 will end when it’s finished,” said Petryk. “After graduating from Ramapo College with a degree in environmental studies I became an outdoor environmental educator at the Pocono Environmental Education Center. During this time I fell in love with Pike County and the bountiful hiking and the beautiful vistas. The Tennessee Pipeline is a major artery for the monster that is the Marcellus Shale industry that will cut across the Delaware River valley with disrespect to the people here and valuable ecology we are meant to steward. The pipeline will give enormous incentive for use of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, proposed natural gas power plants like the one in Newark, compressor stations and all related natural gas infrastructure. I encourage our decision makers to abandon the dead end of fossil fuels and seek to innovate our way toward a clean energy future,” said Petryk.
“Milford is my home town, where I grew up, where I work, where I fish, where I hunt and the place that I remain. We are not a resource colony of Washington, DC, or Harrisburg. I took this action to blockade the construction of the Tennessee Pipeline Loop 323 upgrade today to stop the rapid industrialization of Pike County by natural gas infrastructure.” said Lotorto.
“Most of all, my trade as a landscaper has been to keep and make this place beautiful. Marcellus Shale drilling to our west has hit home with its pipelines here after two years of our local leaders’ and neighbors’ dissent and appeals. The Upper Delaware River region thrives on tourism, recreation, real estate, agriculture and the scenic value of our land. My mother, who recently passed, sold many homes and properties along the roads this right of way will cross as a realtor. She helped hundreds of families fall in love with our area and move here, which paid to clothe and feed me as a child. The short term boost to our bars and hotels as the workers come in from around the country will never replace the long term losses to our rural heritage industries as this pipeline scars our land. I stand in solidarity with every working family now impacted by the massive, trillion dollar Marcellus Shale gas industry. I hope our nation realizes these are the tragedies we support when we elect dirty energy politicians like Barack Obama,” said Lotorto.
Cross posted from Stop the Tennessee Pipeline.