Digging a Hole

Friday, July 16, 2010

What the Frack?

Oh, werd?
I can't seem to escape natural gas pipelines. Several summers ago, my compatriots and I began to notice gaping holes in our former Northeastern woods haunts. My friend Sarah's summer encampment at the New York Ren Faire was, literally, blown up to make way for piping. Eric's hideaway at Ten Mile River scout camp now has a gash cleared through it. Clean Ocean Action has wallpapered Asbury Park with stickers fighting a proposed LNG barge off the Jersey coast.
I suppose I knew that, somehow, the pipeline would have to cut through Jersey eventually. I was shocked, though, to read today that a company got a 24 year lease to blast its way through 23 miles of the protected NJ Highlands for $180,000.


For serious? I can't even find a house for that little in this state.
For those of us who are not natural gas companies, here is a sampling of what $180,000 can get!

Charmer in Hackensack!

A scenic one bedroom condo!

In their defense, the Statehouse Commission noted that the $180,000 was much larger than the original deal of exchanging the destruction of some of our last remaining forests for $45,750.

For a comparison, $34,000 buys you this historic fixer-upper in Newark.

Perhaps they would throw in the house on the right for the remaining $11,750...

Of course, the gas company isn't *buying* the land; they are just leasing it. Borrowing it really. We can totally have it back in 24 years!

Maybe we could use it for like a Rails to Trails type thing.... Gas to Pass! Pipes to... um... Well, we have 24 years to figure out a slogan....

Now, as a New Jersey resident, I have come to terms with environmental disasters. We all have asthma. Unless I get hit by a car on the Turnpike, I will probably die of cancer. As public health threats go, this pipeline is surely not the biggest. Sure, the Highlands contain HALF of the state's drinking water, but the effects on human health from this project pale in comparison to the toxic waste sites, industrial projects, and diesel pollution killing our urban residents.
Still, knowing that the scars of upstate New York are coming to a state forest near me has impacted me on a more emotional level than my near constant exposure to bad air. I need to know that somewhere remains unspoiled.
As our lobbyist put it, "How do you restore 150-year-old trees that will be taken down?"