Mayor Comitta’s testimony on gas pipeline crossing

From West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta:

This evening [August 14] the PA Department of Environmental Protection held hearings at WCU’s Sykes Theater on the Williams Transco Company’s proposal to replace natural gas pipelines which cross the Brandywine. State Senators Dinniman and Rafferty were instrumental in organizing this public hearing.

Attached please find a copy of my testimony at the hearing this evening. The DEP must decide whether to issue permits to Transo to replace the pipeline utilizing a cheaper method that most environmentalists find to be more environmentally damaging than a second safer, but more more costly method. This is an issue that affects the Borough’s drinking water, and has environmental implications for our region.

For more details on the methods, please contact Senator Dinniman’s office.

Hopefully the DEP will decide to do what is in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the people they serve.

Prepared text:

August 14, 2012

To: Department of Environmental Protection
RE: Transco Pipeline replacement over the Brandywine River

As a Mayor of the Borough of West Chester, I speak on behalf of our citizens. The issue at hand is of concern to us for two reasons. First, because West Chester’s drinking water comes from the Ingram’s Mill Water Treatment Plant along the East Branch of the Brandywine River, and we want to ensure our people have access to healthy water. Second, because we care about doing the right thing to protect our environment and the environment of our neighbors in the region and beyond. We understand the concept that “we all live downstream”.

At a town meeting in 2006, a diverse group of people of the Borough of West Chester unanimously voted environmental issues as the number one concern for the future of our community. The articulation of this priority has driven Borough policy for the last 6 years. West Chester’s Borough Council has passed ordinances requiring developers to build green. Borough Council passed an ordinance to purchase 100% of its electricity through wind power. The implementation of this police costs money. I can assure you that the government of West Chester is frugal. But I can also assure you that we have our priorities straight! We are not willing to compromise the health of our citizens to save a buck.

I respect the right of a business to promote a plan that protects their bottom line.
If required to use a more expensive method, I’m sure they will pass on any extra costs to their customers. I can tell you the people of West Chester would pay the premium for the environmentally healthy option. I suspect we are not unlike most people who want to choose the best for their children and grandchildren.

It is the responsibility of elected officials and governmental agencies to uphold their pledge to protect the health safety and welfare of the people they serve. Our “bottom line” must be to require businesses to use methods that protect the people.

The Department of Environmental Protection’s mission (taken from the DEP website) is to protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment. We will work as partners with individuals, organizations, governments and businesses to prevent pollution and restore our natural resources.

I urge the DEP to require this applicant and any applicant for that matter, to choose a method that best protects the health and safety of our citizens – that protects the Brandywine River and the drinking water supplied to our town and region. The Department of Environmental Protection exists to do just that – protect the environment – thereby protecting the people you serve.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this critical community environmental issue.