Tag Archive: Pinelands Commission

News Roundup and Open Thread for Monday, August 17, 2015

A tunnel powwow: The Record’s Mike Kelly reports, “Gov. Christie, Sen. Booker, and U. S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will meet in Newark tomorrow to discuss how to fix the growing problems with the rail tunnel under the Hudson River.” Don’t expect a lot, but it’s a beginning.    

Julian Bond, civil rights leader and campaigner against the Vietnam war, passed away Saturday. In 2010 he came to Trenton to speak on behalf of marriage equality, saying, “My gay brothers and sisters came South and marched alongside me in the struggle for my civil rights. I came North today to support the struggle for their civil rights.”

Two snakes in the Pinelands: The decision of Christie appointee Pinelands Commission Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg that the Pinelands Commissioners no longer need to approve the gas pipeline, only the state Board of Public Utilities, sparks outrage and a potential legal battle. (See below the fold what Jeff Tittel has to say.)

Out on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, the presidential race can feel rather personal. The town’s been intimately dependent on both Donald Trump and Gov. Christie, not to mention Trump’s cabinet choice, Carl Icahn, owner of Tropicana.

Seaside Heights Casino Pier gets OK to rebuild, and will move the iconic Sky Ride 160 feet away.

Christie sinks to 11th. With the second national post-Fox debate poll, Christie and John Kasich are at 3.8% in Real Clear Politics average of the four most recent polls. Like the Fox show, the CNN Sept. 16, debate  will be divided into two parts. One grouping will feature the top 10 candidates according to public polling.

A Voice in the Wilderness

The New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve is 1.1 million acres of undisturbed land in this nation’s most densely populated state and is habitat to thousands of species of plants and animals. Since 1978, it has been administered by the Pinelands Commission, a group of 15 commissioners, seven appointed by the governor, one by each of the seven counties in which the reserve exists, and one by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Given our Governor’s disdain for the environment, it’s no surprise that one of the controversies surrounding the Pinelands is the proposal to run natural gas pipelines through the area, a big risk to the water table and critters that will be impacted. Christie has systematically placed pro-pipeline commissioners on the board, aided and abetted by GOP-controlled counties in the area.

I attended my first commission meeting on Friday, and there was only one person who bothered to speak against the pipeline, Lena Smith of Food and Water Watch. Her statement and a brief interview, along with some other thoughts, are below the fold.

Pinelands: An Interview with Carleton Montgomery

New Jersey is often viewed through the lens of the opening titles of The Sopranos – a congested urban state with belching smokestacks and ugly oil tanks. But there’s another aspect to the Garden State, a one million acre area of South Jersey that has been designated as an environmentally protected area. Not surprisingly, the Governor is trying to change this.  Also not surprisingly, several Democrats are complicit in his actions.

As the Governor is working to stack the Pinelands Commission, which is supposed to be an independent oversight agency, environmental activists, and four former governors are fighting to keep a pipeline out of one of the most pristine and sensitive areas of the state. Today, I spoke with Carleton Montgomery, the Executive Director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance about this assault.

You can download an audio podcast of this interview here, or find us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Pinelands Commission news meant for us to miss.

While everyone was paying attention to Governor Christie’s budget address, Senate President Steve Sweeney was making sure that Christie’s nominee for the Pinelands Commission got approved. In the absence of Senator Lesniak, who had on two previous occasions opposed the nomination, Sweeney subbed in Senator Van Drew to supply the needed vote. Environmentalists are rightfully concerned that this stacking of the Board is being done to push through approval for a proposed pipeline. Interesting read on  the continuing role Sweeney plays in facilitating Christie’s agenda.