Approval expected for gas pipeline through N.J. protected region

Environmentalists want the Highlands Council to reject a proposed gas pipeline through northwest New Jersey.

They’re not objecting to the pipeline itself — yet. They’re focused on construction of the “Northeast Upgrade Project,” which is backed by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company.

That pipeline needs an exemption to go through protected land in the Highlands.

Erica Van Auken of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition says the Tennessee company failed in the past to prevent erosion and sedimentation that can contaminate drinking water.

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The next loop of the pipeline would travel under the Monksville reservoir.

“It’s not that this company is messing with a small portion in a small state, but it really will have impacts that will be felt around the state,” says Van Auken.

The Highlands Council is expected to follow the recommendations of its staff and approve the exemption from the Highlands Act, which protects the nearly million-acre, seven-county region.

The pipeline would carry gas from the Marcellus Shale to major cities. Environmentalists object to having New Jersey accept potential environmental impacts for the gas to be carried to other states.

The pipeline plan would also need to win final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission before construction can proceed.

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