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Take Action: No Pipeline Through the Pinelands!

August 7, 2013

Pine Barrens wetlands. Photo: Keith Meyers, New York Times.

A fracked gas pipeline that would cut through the heart of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, a pristine and beloved million-plus acres of forest wilderness, wetlands, streams and lakes, is being fast-tracked by those with power and privilege. The 22-mile, 24″ pipeline is not necessary. And the Pinelands National Reserve is set aside, with a Pinelands Commission which has the power to enforce their own protective rules… or to waive them.

But so far, despite the breadth and depth of love for the Pine Barrens and despite 75 residents’ passionate testimony at the July 26th meeting that the impacts are unacceptable and that the gas is not even needed for the power plant, the pipeline is being presented “as if” it’s a “done deal.” It is not. People power can make all the difference!

What you can do: 1. Call. 2. Write. 3. Show Up!

1. Call Governor Christie at 609-292-6000 on August 26th and 27th, in advance of the Pinelands Commission’s August 28th meeting, where the wrong decision could be made.

Tell him you want him to make sure there is no pipeline through the Pinelands, because it would

A. Violate the PInelands Commission’s own rules, put in place to protect the Pine Barrens;

B. Degrade a pristine wilderness which is a national treasure;

Barred owl chicks. Barred owls, an endangered species, are present in the Pine Barrens. Photo: Wikimedia.

B. Put residents as well as wildlife, including endangered plants and animals, at risk of pipeline explosions; and

C. Cause inevitable drilling mud spills, air pollution and acute disruption as well as long-term harms.

D. It is completely unnecessary! If the BL England plant is repowered at all, it should use renewables.

E. The big 24″ pipeline could be used to carry fracked gas for export, which we oppose. LNG exports would cause more climate change (think Hurricane Sandy!) and would quickly raise the price of natural gas at home, hurting ordinary people both in the short term and in the long term.

Tell him also that the PInelands Commission must allow the wildlife restoration ecologist who can explain the damage done by pipelines to speak for more than five minutes (their current limit). The pipeline advocate  was allowed to make his case (however badly) for two full hours. Protect democracy and press for public access!

2. Sign on to the Change.org petition, “Pinelands Commission: Deny the Proposed SJ Gas / BL England Pipeline through the Pine Barrens,” right now!  At press time, 251 have signed, with a goal of 500. Please help us double that number today. Your message will go straight to the Pinelands Commission.

This is what a natural gas pipeline explosion looks like. This Texas explosion happened in 2010. One worker was killed and seven were injured. A massive fireball went up, stunning airplane pilots who felt the heat a mile away. Photo: AP, from The Daily Mail.

3. Show up! The next meeting of the full Pinelands Commission is this Friday, August 9th at 9:30 AM. The controversial pipeline is conspicuously not on the agenda, but there is time for public comment and it is essential that the Pinelands Commission understand that the opposition will grow bigger and stronger until we stop this pipeline, which will not benefit the Pinelands and which could ultimately be used to carry fracked gas for export.

What: Full Pinelands Commission Meeting

When: Friday, August 9th 2013 9:30 AM

Where: Pinelands Commission Office, 15 Springfield Road, New Lisbon, New Jersey 08064

The Pine Barrens includes many streams. From Pine Barrens Fact Sheet (HoganPhoto)

Even more important is the following meeting, on August 30th, 2013, when a subcommittee meets which has the power to “waive” the rules now in place to protect the Pine Barrens in order to ram this fracked gas pipeline through.

What: Pinelands Commission Plan Review Committee Meeting

When: August 28th, 2013 9:30 AM

Where: Pinelands Commission Office, 15 Springfield Road, New Lisbon, New Jersey 08064

Money, power and privilege are quickly uniting in an attempt to make it appear “as if” this pipeline is a done deal. And the Executive Director of the Pinelands Commission, Nancy Wittenberg, has spoken on NBC News saying that “we have to waive that standard,” appearing to indicate that the Pinelands Commission has already inappropriately made a behind-doors decision to violate their own rules, unless her comment was taken out of context by NBC.

Make your voice heard.

The Facts: Pine Barrens vs. Pipeline

  • The proposed pipeline violates the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP), which only permits such infrastructure in the Forest Management Area if it is “intended to primarily serve the needs of the Pinelands.” N.J.A.C. 7:50-5.23. There is no exception for pipes run along or under roads.
  • This kind of infrastructure will bring a variety of environmental harms and pressure for more development along its route. The Pinelands Commission is charged to defend the Pinelands CMP, yet it has discussed waiving the restrictions with the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and South Jersey Gas by entering into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). The MOA regulations are for public entities, which South Jersey Gas is not. Meanwhile, the Commission is refusing to allow more than 5 minutes of expert testimony on pipeline impacts on wildlife.
  • The Pine Barrens are beautiful. Catch a glimpse on this Cinematic View of the Proposed Pipeline Route.
  • The Pine Barrens in their protected state are also economically valuable. New York Times: “From Beaches to Pine Barrens, a Study Puts Values on New Jersey’s Natural Assets.” 

More below from a Fact Sheet written by the Pinelands Action Coalition — South Jersey residents organizing to stop the pipeline. Below the facts: contact information below in case you want to offer support and get involved.

High Pressure Gas Pipeline through the New Jersey Pinelands

FACT SHEET

  1. South Jersey Gas is fast-tracking permits to lay a 22-mile, high pressure, 24 inch diameter gas pipeline, from Millville to BL England electric generating site at Beesley’s Point, Upper Township. This defunct plant wants to switch from coal to gas source electricity.
  2. Fifteen miles of the proposed pipeline would, if allowed, cut through the heart of the Pinelands, putting its unique, irreplaceable eco-system, and 17- trillion-gallon pure water aquifer at grave risk.
  3. This gas-pipeline project is in violation of the Pinelands Commission’s, Comprehensive Management Plan, regardless of whether it is laid on roadsides or middle of roads.
  4. Forest fires are part of the natural cycle of the Pinelands. With 8 segments of pipe running through the Pinelands, a gas leak would be extremely destructive to the eco-systems as well as the Firefighters. Fire-maps of the area indicate that significant parts of the pipeline route run through high or medium to high risk fire areas.
  5. NJ Pinelands is the first National Reserve designated in the USA. In 1988 it became a UNESCO Biosphere.
  6. The Pinelands has 92 Threatened or Endangered plant, and 43 Threatened or Endangered animal species.
  7. According to NJ Sierra Club (NJSC), there is no need for a gas plant in Beesley’s Point. Energy use in NJ is dropping, and the BL England site “would make a great facility to use offshore wind generation.” The Pinelands pipeline is an industry solution, beneficial to corporate interests and not this UNESCO Reserve. The Pinelands Commission and public at large need to take the opportunity to decommission a coal burner as a time for all of us to look at real alternatives that are not as environmentally invasive and destructive.
  8. NJ Sierra Club fears that the project’s end goal is the exportation of natural gas, perpetuating fracking of the USA, particularly the Marcellus and Utica shale areas of Pa and adjoining states. This is not a path to US energy self-sufficiency and domestic autonomy, but a profit path for industry, and one that will likely drive higher domestic gas prices.
  9. The federal EPA lists carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and lists CO2 the major contributor to climate change.  A conversion of the BL England plant from coal to gas will produce millions of tons of greenhouse gases over its lifetime.
  10. According to the Energy Information Agency (EIA), “…ultrafine particles may be emitted in high particle number from natural gas power plants; some evidence does exist that certain types of ultrafine particles have an independent role in human health impacts, and are perhaps more of a health concern than larger size particles.” Further health studies are recommended (Report August 12, 2012).
  1. Deadline for final determination by BL England to re-power to gas is December 31, 2013
  2. The Pinelands Commission has the ability to withhold permission for the gas pipeline. Ultimately Governor Christopher Christie holds the fate of the Pine Barrens in his hands.

We, citizens and organizations of South Jersey -Pinelands Action Coalition – oppose a pipeline through our Pinelands area.  For further information:

Contact: Georgina Shanley  -Citizens United for Renewable Energy (CURE): email shanleyg2001@yahoo.com                       or call (609) 442 2407.

Ron Hutchison – South Jersey 350.org: email rhutchis@yahoo.com or call (609) 865 4654.  

The Pinelands Preservation Alliance also has a fact sheet! To be shared on future posts.            

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