Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Inane Comments Cost PennEast’s Critics Their Credibility

There is a lot of opposition to the PennEast company’s proposed natural gas pipeline through Pennsylvania and New Jersey, much of it irrational. For example, a Lehigh Valley Live article on the pipeline by John Sievers contained the following:

Residents both directly and indirectly affected by the route of PennEast's proposed 36-inch natural gas pipeline say they continue to be frustrated with the company's responses to their questions and concerns.

"I am appalled at what PennEast is attempting to do to our beautiful area in the name of greed and profit," Hunterdon County resident Elizabeth Balogh said. "The public resistance is growing every day. ... They have millions to spend on a project to take our land and destroy our resources so that they can export this gas. All we have is our homes, and for now, clean water."

The pipeline company held a series of invitation-only meetings last month with landowners along the proposed route.

I left these comments:

How can anyone take PennEast’s critics seriously after inane comments like Elizabeth Balogh’s?

“Greed and profit” are the motivation and reward for people to work and earn a living by producing and delivering an economic value that consumers want and need and are willing to buy; in PennEast’s case, the energy human lives and flourishing depend upon. If that’s bad, then so is the desire to live.

From the standpoint of human life and well-being as the standard of value, pipelines don’t destroy. They are a life-enhancing value, and they are everywhere. There are 2 Transco natgas pipelines within a mile of my house in Readington and a 3rd currently under construction. These pipelines, which cross the Delaware from Pennsylvania, coexist safely and innocuously with hundreds of surrounding homes, farms, and streams. And these pipelines are a small part of a vast network. There are currently 190,000 miles of liquid petroleum pipelines and 2.4 million miles of natural gas pipelines in America. Destructive? Give me a break. Where would we be without them? Clean water? You wouldn’t even have access to clean, safe water so conveniently available at the twist of a knob in your home without the pipelines that deliver the energy that run our water purification and delivery systems. Go down the list of modern conveniences and necessities you enjoy—from sanitary waste disposal to transportation to heating and cooling systems to plentiful food and great healthcare—and you will find that it all depends on pipeline-delivered energy. Thank you, greed and profit!

This is what PennEast is seeking to do for people. Profits earned in this manner are morally noble. The “greed” that motivates the pipeline producers is morally noble. Perhaps there are legitimate complaints about PennEast’s presentation and response to questions. Undoubtedly, there are legitimate concerns about the pipeline construction (I could name one; eminent domain). On the other hand, maybe nothing PennEast’s representatives say will satisfy opponents, who often seem more motivated by irrational bias against the pipeline and fossil fuels generally than balanced judgement.

I am certain of one thing. PennEast doesn’t deserve these kinds of smear tactics, especially from NIMBY hypocrites who enjoy the energy benefits of pipelines passing through thousands of other communities while trying to deny PennEast’s future consumers the benefits of this one pipeline. Inane comments like the above costs critics their credibility.


I will address a couple of replies to my comments in the next couple of posts.

Related Reading:

Are Pipelines a Threat to Water?

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