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Chester County Press

Why I’m running for Congress

10/29/2014 08:15PM ● By Lev

By Tom Houghton

As a London Grove Township Supervisor for seven years and a State House member for two, I always worked hard to represent my constituents on the important issues we faced as a community. As an elected official and public servant, I was always amazed at how I simply never saw our Congressman (Rep. Joe Pitts).

 A decade ago, PennDOT, the Federal Highway Administration and Rep. Pitts attempted to disrupt our community, endanger our property values and destroy our agriculture zone by building two unwanted and unnecessary four-lane elevated bypasses through our community. I stood up and fought for us, serving for a year and a half as our township’s representative on PennDOT’s Route 41 Executive Committee. Together, our community was able to stop that bypass, even though many said it was impossible. 

Throughout that process, I did not see Rep. Pitts once. He refused to face us, his constituents, and only sent a staffer to these monthly meetings.

Right now, Lancaster County, a major portion of this congressional district, is facing a similar, but even bigger issue, and it is an issue that we will face in Chester County in the near future. Gas pipeline company Williams Partners, a major contributor to Rep. Pitts, is attempting to build a massive (42”) high pressure (2000 psi) natural gas pipeline right through the heart of the county – up against schools, residential housing, and through preserved farmland! This pipeline will have a 2,200-foot blast zone. The compressor stations built along the pipeline will have a half-mile blast zone. The only way a leak can be spotted  is if a fly-over is done and they spot dead vegetation. The company wants to ship our plentiful natural gas overseas—this will raise our prices here at home while selling the gas overseas for three to five times the cost. That's a win-win for them, but a big loss to us.

Not only will this pipeline endanger health and safety and hurt property values, it is also an example of the worst kind of big government over-reach. Landowners who do not want to sell their land to Williams will have it taken by the federal government’s authority of eminent domain. The government taking private land for the benefit of a private company is the height of hypocrisy for my so-called ‘anti-big government’ opponent - the same opponent who collects over $90,000 in yearly taxpayer-funded pension payments from his 24 years serving in the State House, on top of his $174,000 Congressional salary that he has collected for the last 18 years. 

Rep. Pitts has not attended one of the many community anti-pipeline meetings. Not one. When asked on numerous occasions to take a position on the proposed pipeline, he has said, “I will not choose a side.” 

I am proud to say that I have taken a strong position against this pipeline and have been there, fighting side-by-side with residents of Lancaster County because they do not want this pipeline.

With 8,200 gas wells currently drilled in Pennsylvania, and the goal of 100,000 total wells still to come, this will not be the first pipeline the industry plans to crisscross through our community as they look to continue to ship this gas overseas – taking our jobs along for the ride.

Lancaster County is front line in the natural gas pipeline battle in the southeast. Chester County also stands between the Marcellus Shale and the Maryland ports where the gas will be exported—and we are next. I am fighting this battle for our whole community and the entire region.

This fight is not about partisanship or politics, it is about people and protecting our community.  Throughout my years in public service, I do not believe anyone, even my detractors, can deny that I am in this for the right reasons. Win or lose on Nov. 4, I will continue to be proud of that reputation as I continue to raise my family in this community that I love.

Ultimately, I am running for Congress because we need a representative that is actually involved in our community—someone who will fight for the things we all hope for, like a better economy, jobs and revitalization of our downtown centers while we continue to preserve our open spaces and farmland – all things that make this part of our country so great.

I ask for your vote on Tuesday, Nov. 4.


Tom Houghton

London Grove Township

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