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NPS takes no stand on PPL route; three public hearings planned for Water Gap powerline

December 7, 2011

The position of the National Park Service on the proposed Roseland power line has been misinterpreted in the press, according to Bob Karotko, former deputy superintendent of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area (DWGNRA), who retired on December 3.

The remark came after the release of the DWGNRA’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) on the proposed line.
“The draft environmental statement cites impacts on geology, wetlands, vegetation, wildlife and habitat, Karotko said. “It calls the existing 230-kilovolt line through the park the environmentally preferred alternative, but that doesn’t mean the National Park Service (NPS) formally opposes the project.”

The report is a prelude to a final decision on a preferred route for the power line the NPS is expected to issue next fall. In August 2010, NPS said it would consider six potential configurations for the route.

The Allentown-based PPL Electric Utilities and the New Jersey Newark-based Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) are proposing the line to stabilize electric service in the Northeast and prevent power outages.

Environmental and consumer groups oppose the project, questioning the need for the line and warning about potential environmental dangers.

“We were expecting this,” PPL spokesman Paul Wirth said.
PPL’s $510 million segment of the line would originate at its nuclear plant near Berwick, PA and run 101 miles through parts of Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties before crossing the Delaware River near Bushkill and connecting with the Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) $570 million, 55-mile segment in Roseland, NJ. Along the route, it would cross through DWGNRA and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PPUC) and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) granted approval in 2010 for the route running through DWGNRA.

“We continue to believe the route that was approved by the PPUC was valid,” Wirth said.

The line is scheduled to open in 2015. “We have not yet set a construction timetable,” he said.
The NPS will conduct a 60-day comment period on the environmental review, including public hearings.

Three public hearings are scheduled for: January 24 at Fernwood Hotel and Resort in Bushkill, time to be announced; January 25 at Stroudmoor Country Inn, near Stroudsburg beginning at 1 p.m.; January 28 at Farmstead Golf and Country Club, Lafayette, NJ, time to be announced.