Locals attend hearing on natural gas pipeline

Source: The Times-Tribune

TUNKHANNOCK — Most of the 100 people attending a hearing Monday spoke in support of the 197-mile-long Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline project, pointing to the economic benefits it would bring to Pennsylvania through energy efficiency.

The hearing, held at Tunkhannock Area Middle School, offered residents a chance to offer their opinion on the proposed pipeline, which will run through Wyoming, Susquehanna, Clinton, Columbia, Lancaster, Lebanon, Luzerne, Lycoming, Northumberland and Schuylkill counties. Attendees had three minutes to speak, but could not pose questions to the four panelists from the state Department of Environmental Protection, all members of the department’s Waterways and Wetlands program, which is reviewing the two permit applications.

Veto Barziloski Sr., president of Bennie’s Nursery, a landscaping firm located in Tunkhannock, supported the project. Williams installed 1 mile of pipeline on his property and Barziloski said he’s had a good relationship with the company, whose employees he said have always acted professionally to make certain they remain within the DEP’s guidelines.

Bill Kelley Sr., owner of Taylor Rental of Tunkhannock, was also in favor of the pipeline project. Over the years, Kelley said, he’s seen his business grow, with 35 people now on his payroll. Natural gas was a big factor that contributed to that growth and he believes further development will provide a boon to the state’s economy as a whole.

Others at Monday’s hearing aired concerns about the proposed pipeline.

Diane Ward of Wysox spoke out against the project, on the grounds that it does not include any horizontal directional drilling. Instead, she said, the plan calls for a coffer dam to be constructed in the Susquehanna River at Eaton Twp. There will also be 12 water crossings by conventional bore, as well as two by flume.

“These appalling facts speak for themselves,” Ward said. Should the DEP permit the crossing techniques as currently planned, “this belies our state’s commitment to the Chesapeake Bay cleanup.”

Kelly Finan of Hop Bottom spoke against the proposal, saying that fracking, the process of withdrawing natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, has had adverse health effects in areas where extensive drilling occurs, including Bradford, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties.

The DEP will continue to take written statements from the public through June 26. Anyone wishing to contact the DEP or obtain further information on the project may do so at its website at www.dep.pa.gov.