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Appalachian Trail Under Threat on 75th Anniversary

Date : Thu, 16 Aug 2012 10:34:22 -0400

For Immediate Release
August 14, 2012 Contact: Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Appalachian Trail Under Threat on 75^th Anniversary Today marks the 75^th anniversary of the Appalachian Trail, one the United States' most treasured parks.Each year thousands of hikers from across the world make the life changing trek from Georgia to Maine through some of the most beautiful areas along the East Coast.New Jersey is home to over 70 miles of the trail, but also the biggest threats to the trail as two proposed dirty fossil fuel projects threaten to destroy the Appalachian Trail's scenic vistas in our state.The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company's (TGP) Northeast Upgrade project and PSE&G's Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line would both create a scar across the Appalachian Trail to carry fossil fuels from Pennsylvania to New York City and east coast markets.As we mark the anniversary of the Appalachian Trail we must fight to stop inappropriate projects from industrializing one of our most important scenic trails.

"As we celebrate the 75^th anniversary of the Appalachian Trail and how important the trail has been we have to understand the trail is under threat from fossil fuels.Whether it is a power line that will mar the scenic vista and create more air pollution that will impact hikers and limit our view or a gas line that will not only put a scar through the trail but will encourage more fracking.The Appalachian Trail is a national treasure and belongs to all of us, not greedy power companies and polluters," said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club."Killing these two projects would be a great way to celebrate the 75^th anniversary." The Appalachian Trail was designed by Benton MacKaye and the first section that was completed was between Bear Mountain and Arden, New York, crossing through Greenwood Lake.Then the next sections came into New Jersey.The purpose was to connect people to the wilderness and outdoors and that is being threatened by these projects.The Susquehanna-Roseland line and TGP pipeline will be crossing some of earliest and most heavily used sections of the trail.The Appalachian Trail is not only a great place to hike but an important symbol that we have great outdoor places and the longest hiking trail in the United States.

"We need to celebrate the importance of the Appalachian Trail by fighting to protect it from these projects.This is our own little piece of wilderness in the heart of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country," said Jeff Tittel. The Susquehanna-Roseland line would cross the Appalachian Trail in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.The project proposes to replace the exisiting 80 foot transmission line with towers close to 200 ft tall and increase the number of wires to allow more coal-fired energy to be imported from Pennsylvania.This takes away from the wilderness and outdoor experience of the trail.Increasing the export capacity will allow coal plants in Pennsylvania to run closer to capacity, producing more smog that could impact the Appalachian Trail. The National Park Service has done an injustice to the Appalachian Trail by fast-tracking approvals for the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line.

"We have plenty of places with power lines in New Jersey, we do not need them through the Appalachian Trail.The Susquehanna-Roseland line is the biggest intrusion across the park on its 75th anniversary as we have seen other proposed power lines that would have crossed the trail cancelled, such as MAPP," said Jeff Tittel. The TGP natural gas pipeline will cross the Appalachian Trail and High Point State Park along with several other public parks and the Monksville Reservoir.About fifty percent of the project is located on public lands.This project will have significant impacts on the Appalachian Trail, proven by TGP's dismal track record on mitigation in the region.The right-of-way of their last project, the 300 Line, completed in November 2011 remains de-vegetated in most portions.The pipeline is being proposed to carry gas supplies from the Marcellus Shale produced through fracking, a drilling technique that contaminates drinking water supplies with over 700 chemicals, many of them toxic. If they start drilling in the Delaware River Basin and New York you may be able to see fracking drill rigs from the trail.

"This is a scar across the Appalachian Trail that destroys the scenic beauty and wilderness quality of the trail.You cannot mitigate for this kind of destruction," said Tittel.

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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