FBI Investigating Death Threats Against PennEast Pipeline Employees
The FBI is investigating letters that were sent to the PennEast pipeline company threatening to kill people connected to the proposed $1.2 billion project, officials said Thursday. The company that is proposing the bistate natural gas pipeline traversing two New Jersey counties has received letters with threats credible enough that representatives have called the authorities to investigate, according to Patricia Kornick, company spokeswoman. Kornick said threats were contained in a handful of letters that escalated and PennEast contacted the FBI in April. The company also hired a private security firm to “ensure the safety and security of our employees,” she said. But Gary Salata, a Ewing resident and a vocal PennEast opponent, said he received a call on Tuesday from an FBI agent working out of the agency’s Allentown, Pa., office asking about letters threatening to kill people. The agent, Tom Neeson, asked Salata if he knew anything about letters threatening to kill people from PennEast. Salata said that Neeson told him he was not being accused of sending the letters, but he wanted to know if Salata knew that they existed. “I’m not some whack-a-doo,” Salata said. “I’ve got a clean record and I told him I don’t know anything.” FBI spokesman J.J. Klave said the agency does not comment on what or whether it is investigating. After his conversation, Salata contacted Sam Koplinka-Loehr, of the Clean Air Council in Philadelphia, to ask if he had heard of anyone else getting calls from the FBI. Koplinka-Loehr said he sent out an internal email to supporters asking if anyone got one, but as of Thursday morning, no one had replied that they received an FBI call. PennEast, a consortium of natural gas providers that includes all four major gas companies in New Jersey, proposes a 110-mile, 36-inch natural gas pipeline extending from the Marcellus Shale region of Northeastern Pennsylvania to Hopewell Township. The project is opposed by all New Jersey municipalities it’s slated to traverse. Mercer County last week banned the project from surveying on its public land, an action mimicked by Hopewell Township earlier this week. On Wednesday, the Hopewell Township Board of Health unanimously passed a resolution against the proposal, saying it posed a threat to the health of Hopewell residents, Mayor Harvey Lester said.