By Cleve Bryan

By Cleve Bryan

TRENTON, NJ (CBS) – Opposition to construction of a new natural gas pipeline that would run through parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania is taking the fight to court and Washington D.C.

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Just a few hours before taking PennEast to Somerset County Superior Court for a trespassing lawsuit, a coalition of environmentalists and private landowners rallied at New Jersey’s Statehouse armed with 9,000 signatures on a petition to halt PennEast.

“We don’t need or want PennEast, it’s time to stop PennEast,” said Kingswood Township committeeman Richard Dodds, who stood with several other mayors of towns that would be affected by the pipeline.

A coalition consisting of 13 organizations and 6 mayors will hand deliver the petition to stop the PennEast Pipeline on Wednesday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington D.C.

The PennEast Pipeline, funded mainly by regional energy companies looking for better access to natural gas, would run 119 miles from Luzerne County, PA to Mercer County, NJ.

“It meets an increased demand for natural gas by consumers,” says PennEast spokesperson Patricia Kornick.

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Opponents say construction of the 36-inch pipeline would destroy wetlands and release contaminates into private wells as well as public water supplies.
There is also the issue of eminent domain.

Homeowners like Jacqueline Evans from Stockton, NJ says the pipeline would run right through the middle of her little farm.

“It doesn’t seem like something that should happen in America. That somebody could just come through and take it from me,” says Evans.
To add insult to injury Evans says surveyors hired by PennEast have trespassed on her property.

She in one of 7 private land owners, as well as two environmental groups, that filed a trespassing lawsuit against PennEast.

Tuesday afternoon at judge in Somerset County heard oral arguments in the lawsuit and scheduled additional arguments on June 16th.

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Kornick maintains that PennEast has not violated trespassing laws saying, “There seems to be some confusion among the general public, in opposition potentially, about what is a public right of way versus private right of ways.”