Enviros Sue BPU and Pinelands Commission to Halt Harmful Pipeline

If Governor Christie gets his way, New Jersey will have to change its slogan from the “Garden State” to the “Pipeline State.” A plethora of natural gas pipelines and ancillary equipment are planned to exploit fracked Pennsylvania natural gas for profitable enterprises domestically and overseas.

The latest attempt to slow down this homage to the fossil fuel industry is a lawsuit, filed today by the New Jersey Sierra Club and Environment New Jersey against last week’s BPU decision to approve the Southern Reliability Link (SRL) pipeline. The line would pose health and safety dangers to the Pinelands and residents in Burlington, Mercer, and Ocean Counties.

In 1979, Governor Brendan Byrne spearheaded the creation of the Pinelands Commission to protect the 1.1 million acres of pristine and environmentally-sensitive land in the most densely populated state. Under Governor Chris Christie, that commission has become an arm of the dirty fuel industry.

In January, 2014, the Commission voted not to approve a proposed high-pressure natural gas pipeline through the Pinelands – against the wishes of the governor and his donors. Not willing to take “no” for an answer, the governor stacked the commission with pro-pipeline people. But rather than risk another vote, his hand-picked Commissioner, Nancy Wittenberg, unilaterally decided that a vote to approve this pipeline was not necessary, and in collusion with Christie’s Board of Public Utilities. she gave the go-ahead.

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Tittel & O’Malley

During a telephone press conference today, New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel talked about the lawsuit saying that this project would cause irreparable damage to the Pinelands water supply. The BPU’s approval, he contended, violates the Pinelands Cct by taking away jurisdiction from local towns. Tittel stated, “We are doing the job that the Pinelands Commission is supposed to do because they have worked with the BPU to sell out the environment to South Jersey Gas.” Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey, said “This lawsuit is about justice for the Pinelands. … [It] is a sneak attack on the integrity of the Commission itself.”

One of Christie’s allies in destroying the environment is the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Last year, the board appointed a pro-pipeline commissioner without any public input or consultation with the Democratic minority.At a meeting last night, the Freeholders reversed an earlier policy of opposing this pipeline, to granting tacit approval by not joining in the appeals to these decisions. Even though the pipeline would create fewer than ten jobs, the Freeholders (who have benefited from the largesse of Karl Rove, Sheldon Adelson, and the Koch Brothers) decided to put the safety of county residents second to their fealty to their donors.

To support the pipeline, a compression station will be built adjacent to the New Jersey Turnpike in Chesterfield Township. This central location of highly-explosive high-pressure natural gas will be unmanned during evening hours, leaving area residents open to dangers from malfunctioning equipment or domestic terrorism.

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Mayor Jill Popko

Jill Popko, mayor of Bordentown said, “I am disappointed in the decision by the BPU to allow the SRL/NJNG pipeline to move forward. I ask all residents of the State of New Jersey to contact the NJDEP and the BPU expressing their opposition to the SRL pipeline and the Transco compression station. These projects are unnecessary and ill-advised, causing lower property values, environmental degradation, and health risks. It is imperative that our local, county, state and national representatives start working together on a clean energy infrastructure plan that can create jobs and save lives.”

Don’t expect any help from the area congressman, Tom MacArthur. In response to a complaint from a constituent, instead of supporting alternate renewable energy, MacArthur stated he would allow energy infrastructure on protected Federal lands, making the problem worse in my opinion.

At best, the Sierra Club/ENJ lawsuit will slow down the inevitable destruction of our environment, the health problems created by leaks, and the long-term effects of carbon fuel emissions. But this suit is a start. A better solution would be to replace these dirty energy elected officials with pro-environment representatives who answer to the people and not the fuel industries.

Comments (18)

  1. Agnes Marsala

    I couldn’t agree more! Against the wishes of the majority of our citizenry, we are being force-fed a diet of nothing but gas, gas, gas, by a governer that knows a thing or two about overeating and the gas that may accompany it!
    While we’ll be stuck with dangerous, outmoded technology for decades, Christy and his cronies will be rewarded with a huge influx of PAC $$ from the dinosaurs of dirty energy!

    Reply
    1. bijipop

      Burlington County freeholders are neck deep in the muck.

      Reply
  2. Naor Chazan

    Absolutely disgusting abuse of political power. As someone who built his dream home 1 mile from the site of this proposed compression station, I’ll have to know that my young kids will have to breath the toxic fumes this infrastructure will produce, whether at home or at school. I hope all involved meet the fate they deserve.

    Reply
  3. Rita Romeu

    I am deeply disappointed with the BPU and the Burlington County Freeholders. They have refused to listen to the public and the local township committees.
    It’s time they respond to the citizens who will be affected by the long term effects of these projects.

    Reply
  4. Catherine Bowers

    The 21st century has not been impressive at all. Politicians have held us back. The danger to both people and economy is very obvious when it comes to gas pipelines. So obvious that it leaves people to wonder why our so called leader, Christy, and his “gang” are still rallying with the gas industry; to hurt the people of their communities, or are they not as educated as we thought, or most likely are they just keeping a path clear for well funded PACs? It is time for them to join the 21st century and show they are intelligent and can be a use to the future and environment. It is time the Christy gang fight for safety, clear air and a true economy, instead of showing weakness as part of the “buy me” game.

    Reply
  5. Jeff Spector

    it is amazing that the BPU, which is supposed to have the public in mind and actually determine a need for the infrastructure just abuses their power to protect their pay checks and rubber stamps any application. I hope they are driving down rt 528 the day the 720 PSI gives way. Their blood will be on their own hands.

    Reply
  6. Doris

    It is shocking that the BPU circumvents their own rule: “…residencies should not be closer than 100 feet to the pipeline…” But there are more than 140 homes closer, some as close as 28 feet. Businesses are also in this proximity.
    But worse is that the proposed compressor station is close to homes and they all have private wells.
    It is known that these facilities pollute air and soil and pose health risks to residents living close by. Why is it that the lives and livelihood of citizens are “waived” away? Does Governor Christie think that we will elect a president who does not care about its citizens?

    Reply
  7. Dana Yedwan

    Disguising display of corrupt NJ politics in the interest of profit. This transmission pipeline is typically not allowed within 100 ft of buildings used for human occupancy. At the request of NJNG, in spite of widespread public opposition the BPU has waived their own rule that was previously adopted to protect public safety. Even more disturbing is the BPUs reluctance to render a decision that the so-called Southern Reliability link is for public necessity. Shame on the BPU for failing to protect the people of NJ against big business for profit.

    Reply
  8. Jean Kovath

    We oppose the SRL and the Chesterfield compressor station loudly and clearly. We have spent the last year contacting our elected officials with our many valid reasons for not wanting the pipeline in our neighborhoods. So far the only people successful in moving the pipeline away from their streets are those in power. Meander this pipeline through the streets of the governor and the Burlco freeholders, see how that works. The BPU did not even keep this pipeline over 100 feet from homes, a pipeline like this with a 550 foot blast radius. Not out public servants but rather private industries rubber stamp.

    Reply
  9. Scott Neuman

    I’m running for the 4th CD NJ seat in 2016. As these pipelines will also run through the 4th CD, I’m standing with you to stop these pipelines. I know Frederick J. LaVergne, running against Tom MacArthur in the 3rd, also feels the same way.

    Reply
    1. Suzanne Martin

      I will help anyone who runs against McArthur.

      Reply
  10. Suzanne Martin

    Residents along these pipelines are being railroaded by unethical politicians who just do not care about the health and safety of New Jersey residents. We no longer have property rights because gas companies can draw a line on a map and decide to put a pipeline very close to our homes. Compressor stations can be built to spew carcinogens into the air, add noise and put residents in harms way and our municipalities cannot even stop them.
    Thank you Sierra Club for watching out for our environment and us.

    Reply
  11. Belinda Blazic

    I hope everyone makes it out to cast their vote every single election. That is the only way to effect change.

    Reply
  12. Beth

    This is a blatant abuse of power and I’m wondering why this isn’t national news at this point… would be interesting to see David Muir covering this on World News. There is definitely a conflict of interest when Tom MacArthur owns tons of stocks and bonds in energy companies expanding at the expense of our health. Check our Antero Resources and Tom MacArthur.

    Reply
  13. Lorrie Thier

    This is just the tip of the iceberg on the fraudulent, misrepresentation of the constituents they are supposed to be protecting and representing. The only interest they have is in lining their own pockets and fluffing up their personal investment portfolios. MacArthur has no interest in fighting this pipeline that the people he represents do not want and will not benefit from at all! The newly elected Burlington County Freeholders are basically rolling out a red carpet to these for profit gas companies while the people who voted them in are begging them to change their position and fight with them against the SRL and the Garden State Expansion projects. The BPU is bypassing their own safety guidelines by allowing this 721 PSI pipeline to pass many businesses and residences under their suggested 100ft from occupied buildings. Our communities will be destroyed by these decisions and public safety across the state is in jeopardy. We will continue to fight against these two linked projects and will remember the actions of those in office who chose to not represent those who voted them in come November.

    Reply
  14. Chintan

    Residents along these pipelines are being railroaded by unethical politicians who just do not care about the health and safety of New Jersey residents. We no longer have property rights because gas companies can draw a line on a map and decide to put a pipeline very close to our homes. Compressor stations can be built to spew carcinogens into the air, add noise and put residents in harms way and our municipalities cannot even stop them.

    Reply
  15. deciminyan (Post author)

    CORRECTION:

    There was some erroneous information in this post. I got my pipelines mixed up, there are so many of them! The following information was provided by Lena Smith of Food & Water Watch:

    The lawsuit that was filed was regarding the South Jersey Gas pipeline, which has historically been referred to as the Pinelands Pipeline.

    The article states that the lawsuit was against “last week’s BPU decision to approve the Southern Reliability Link (SRL) pipeline.” and that it goes through Burlington, Mercer and Ocean Counties.

    The Southern Reliability Link is the New Jersey Natural Gas pipeline that goes through Burlington, Monmouth, and Ocean. There was a recent BPU decision on this pipeline, but the lawsuit that Sierra Club and NJ Environment filed was against the South Jersey Gas pipeline.

    Reply
  16. Renee Farar

    For the past year the community has opposed the pipeline and compressor station. Take a drive around Chesterfield and you will see our decision posted on our front lawns. We have sent letters, talked at committee meetings, and posted about our opposition on social media. If you have not gotten the message yet you need to open your eyes and ears. This will not benefit our community in any way. STOP THE PIPELINE!

    Reply

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