Taking a cue from their overlords in Mercer County (where state capital Trenton is located), the Hopewell Township Board of Health voted 5-0 this week to bar PennEast, the gas pipeline consortium, from surveying for a pipeline that would bring fracked natural gas from the nearby Marcellus shale region of eastern Pennsylvania to New Jersey and New York. (Mercer County executives had granted such permission, then did an about-face and rescinded the approval last week, under pressure from anti-fossil-fuel consumer groups).
The following comes from the media site Centraljersey.com:
If built, the 105-mile pipeline would run from Luzerne County in Pennsylvania, near Wilkes-Barre, and end at a junction with an existing pipeline in southeastern Hopewell Township. Patty Cronheim with the organization Hopewell Township Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline (HTCAPP) spoke at the July 13 Board of Health meeting. She said she is looking to invite physicians and other health experts to speak at the July 28 inquiry.
We ll probably have some lung experts present, we ll talk about asthma, she said. She added that she would ultimately like to see the township board of health adopt a resolution saying it deems the pipeline an unreasonable risk to the health and well being of Hopewell Township residents. Ms. Cronheim said she encourages members of the public, health experts, local medical doctors, emergency responders and even children suffering from asthma to attend the July 28 Board of Health session on the pipeline.
The esteemed panel decided to also hear from invited experts as well as the public and as noted solicited input from asthma patients, I assume including children to be brought in as demonstration subjects by willing parents. The brazen a priori parading of asthma patients as though the respiratory condition had been determined to be somehow linked to...what exactly? Natural gas? NG pipelines, or the construction thereof? Fracking? Their phony concern about health effects fails to distract from their real concern: NIMBY, no pipeline in our backyards. And I ll bet no invitations to experts well-versed in the study of the health effects of fracking, natural gas or pipelines were extended; no, better to listen to kids with asthma giving their opinions.
The simple-minded decision to bar pipeline construction through Hopewell (or Mercer or anywhere for that matter) represents the essence of both anti-science anti-technology precaution, and a head-in-the-sand hope that by standing firm against pipelines in my neighborhood, the fight against fossil fuels and for sustainable energy will be somehow advanced. Listen, people of Hopewell: that natural gas is going to get from PA to NY and NJ somehow. The energy demands of this key corridor are growing rapidly, and if the gas (or coal, would that be better? or oil) doesn t travel beneath your village, farms and schools, it will travel over your highways and local streets. The hold back the tides position here reeks of hypocrisy and ignorance, as the good Hopewellians will surely not abstain from using the fuels they so hate, only they will make some other town accept the pipeline or the gas trucks roaming their byways.