Last night, the lame-duck GOP-controlled Burlington County Board of Freeholders voted to make a large swath of land across the state a potential environmental ticking time bomb.
New Jersey Natural Gas wants to build a high-pressure pipeline across Burlington, Monmouth, and Ocean Counties. The company has never made a compelling case as to why this pipeline is necessary, and environmentalists have been fighting it, along with its companion compression station adjacent to the N.J. Turnpike in Chesterfield, for years.
The Republican Party has controlled the Freeholder Board for forty years and has consistently prioritized corporate greed over environmental concerns. Several years ago, it appointed, without proper vetting, Sean Earlen to become the county’s representative to the Pinelands Commission. (Earlen is now chair of the commission and is on tap to become the county Republican chair).
Now, the Freeholders have voted along party lines (3-2) to allow NJNG to temporarily close two county roads in order to proceed with the pipeline construction. What makes this more egregious is that two of the three Republicans (including one who was never elected to the Board) lost their seats in last month’s election. And by the way, two of the three pro-pipeline Republicans have a financial stake in the pipeline proceeding.
While the Democratic minority asked for a delay in the vote last night, they were overruled by the Republicans.
It’s no surprise that Republicans place their own self-interest above those of the voters. Of course, this is not the end of the story, as environmental groups are pursuing litigation to end the pipeline and maintain the beauty and safety of the local area.
Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, who always has a way with words, implored the Board last night, “This is now a lame duck body. Don’t turn from lame ducks into vultures.”