For months during public meetings, PennEast company representatives said it was going to take about 2,000 construction workers to build its proposed $1.2 billion natural gas pipeline from No
rtheastern Pennsylvania to Mercer County.
But on Monday, PennEast — a consortium of major East Coast natural gas providers – released a study backed by Drexel University’s business school saying the construction of the bi-state pipeline would “support” 12,160 jobs.
The difference comes from the definition of “support.”
The project would employ 2,500 temporary construction workers to actually build the pipeline, a task expected to take about seven months, said to Patricia Kornick, PennEast spokeswoman.
The remainder of the 9,960 jobs cited in the Drexel study are ancillary positions created by the $1.6 billion in economic activity generated by the construction, Kornick said.
“The other jobs be across other supporting industries,” Kornick said. “There would be consulting and architectural, food services and other sectors.”
For instance, if the operator of a taco truck pulled up to a construction area to feed hungry workers at lunchtime, that operator would be counted as one of the 12,160 jobs “supported” by the a pipeline, under the formula employed by the Drexel study.
“That would fall under the food services category,” Kornick said.
The study also estimated that the pipeline would generate 98 permanent jobs, but that also relied upon the same ancillary formula estimates. Kornick said 21 permanent jobs would be directly dedicated to upkeep of the pipeline.
“If the person who wrote that study was Pinocchio, his nose would reach from here to San Diego,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the state chapter of the Sierra Club. “They cherry picked and didn’t include negative economic factor that would come with the project.”
He called the entire study offered by the Drexel University LeBow College of Business “hot air.” The study was commissioned by PennEast.
The 12,160 jobs cited in the study comes from an economic model used by Drexel to estimate the numbers of jobs supported by a project based on the amount of money invested.
“Drexel’s analysis illustrates the substantial economic benefit of the PennEast Pipeline,” Peter Terranova, chairman of the PennEast Pipeline board of managers said Monday while touting the study. “As a large infrastructural improvement project, it will support thousands of jobs and generate more than a billion and a half dollars of economic activity in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.”
Tittel said the study failed to examine the cost of lowered property values, damages to tourism and agriculture in the area. For instance, he said, some crops won’t grow near pipelines and homes near them tend to be less marketable.
“The Delaware Valley is a major tourist attraction and this will hurt the natural beauty of the area,” Tittel said. “They’re not taking into account the impact to farmland and to agriculture, that it reduces people’s property values. There are safety concerns. They totally ignored all that.”
The project has generated local criticism and has drawn the ire of the Hopewell Township Committee, which recently passed a resolution against the proposal.
State Senator Shirley Turner, (D-Mercer, Hunterdon) recently introduced a resolution against its construction and U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Colman (D-Mercer) also has expressed her opposition.
The PennEast proposal is in its early stages of federal approval and is is being reviewed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The commission is holding public meetings throughout the six-county area where the pipeline is proposed.
A meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 25 at the West Trenton Ballroom, 40 W. Upper Ferry Road, in Ewing.