Two of the seven Pinelands Commission members who voted in January to block a proposed natural gas pipeline through New Jersey’s largest National Reserve have not had their terms renewed by Gov. Chris Christie.
If approved by the New Jersey Senate, Dennis Roohr, the Republican mayor of New Hanover Township, and Robert Barr, the president of the Ocean City Community Association, will replace D’Arcy Green and Robert Jackson.
Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, Jeff Tittel, said the governor is trying to stack the 15-member panel with those sympathetic to the pipeline.
“What the governor is doing, I think is shameful,” said Tittel. “The Pinelands has been the most effective growth management model in the country, it has worked for 40 years, and now we see the governor playing politics with it.”
A representative of the governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Tittel is concerned not only that the 22-mile pipeline would cut through the preservation area, but also increase reliance on nonrenewable energy sources.
“The bigger issue is that the pipeline would be bringing fracking gas from Pennsylvania, causing more pollution — potentially in Pennsylvania from all the fracking — and then send that gas to build a power plant in Cape May, which would be the largest producer of greenhouse gases along the Jersey Shore,” he said.
South Jersey Gas, the company involved in developing the proposed pipeline, declined to comment on the nominations, but has argued that the project will not disturb the Pinelands and will provide necessary backup power for South Jersey.