Testimony to the National Park Service Lafayette, New Jersey

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Environment New Jersey

Environment New Jersey fully supports the initial decision by the National Park Service to recommend the no build option of the Susquehanna Roseland powerline through the heart of the Delaware Water Gap.

The Delaware Water Gap is a natural treasure for New Jersey residents. It is no accident that it’s the ninth most visited place in the National Park Service system, with over 5 million visitors annually. It’s New Jersey’s Grand Canyon.

The Gap, benefitting from the initial generosity of the industrialist Charles Worthington, has faced numerous threats since then. Nearly 50 years ago, there was another ill-timed proposal by state utilities to flood Sunfish Pond. That project was stopped by the actions of Casey Kays and the hundreds of residents who joined him to protect the Gap by hiking to Sunfish Pond.

The movement to save the Gap from the ill-fated Tock Island Dam project is a legendary case of citizen organizing to stop a massive federal intrusion.

We have come too far to allow the Gap to be stamped with a massive industrial project which will change and scar it forever.

The findings of the draft EIS are exhaustive and they should be finalized: The best option for the Gap is not to build a massive new powerline through it. This incursion can’t be mitigated by additional land purchases as PSEG is attempting to do.

Our members come to the Gap not to see power-lines and so presumably do the 5 million visitors annually. The tourism economy that these visitors produce is substantial and clearly running a massive powerline through the heart of the Gap will impact visitor numbers and visitor’s experiences.

The National Park Service has a responsibility to reject this powerline not so because of the immediate ecological and aesthetic impacts on the Gap. It has a responsibility to reject this powerline because of the type of energy it will transmit.

With all apologies to Gertrude Stein, a coal line is a coal line is a coal line. The Park Service has a responsibility to take into consideration the impacts of global warming to the Park over the course of this century. We can anticipate if we continue as business as usual that we will see the climate of the Delaware Water Gap – as well as all of New Jersey – shift to average temperatures that we more accustomed to seeing in Southern states. Greater average temperatures will also increase air pollution across the state, as well in the Gap. The Smokies Mountains suffer from smog pollution, let’s not add the Gap to the list to the places in New Jersey that suffer from smog.

There are other options beyond building a massive new powerline to deal with our energy crunch. The long-term projections on energy use assume annual increases that can be decreased by aggressive mobilization of energy efficiency standard and programs, which should be the first option we should adopt, as opposed to rate-basing a massive expansion in dirty energy infrastructure.

If you ever camped in Worthington State Park, or spent time at any of the old Boy Scout camps that dot the Gap, you know that a massive industrial project does not belong in the Delaware Water Gap.

The initial decision of the no build option made by the National Park Service is the right call to protect the Delaware Water Gap from a massive new coal power line that’s proposed to run through the Gap.