Environmentalists stage protest in Trenton over proposed natural gas pipeline

 Environmental activists opposed to a pipeline project rally outside the New Jersey Statehouse (photo by Phil Gregory)

Environmental activists opposed to a pipeline project rally outside the New Jersey Statehouse (photo by Phil Gregory)

A few dozen environmental activists rallied in front of New Jersey’s Statehouse in Trenton to protest plans for a natural gas pipeline through the a portion of the Pinelands.

The proposed 21-mile pipeline is part of a South Jersey Gas project to convert the B.L. England generating plant from coal and oil to natural gas.

Dave Pringle with New Jersey Clean Water Action said a vote by the Pinelands Commission to approve the project would violate its comprehensive management plan to protect the heavily forested area that’s an important natural resource.

“It’s 17 trillion gallons of pristine fresh water. It is an internationally recognized environmentally significant location. There are species that live there that don’t live anywhere else in the world. On many levels, environmentally, economically, it is absolutely essential to what makes New Jersey special.”

Jacklyn Rhoads with the Pinelands Preservation Alliance said the pipeline would have statewide implications.

“This impacts not only just the ecological treasures that we have here and the direct people that drink from that source, but it also can have an impact regionally. If we draw down this source of water and we contaminate it, we now have to tap into other people’s resources.”

Environment New Jersey director Doug O’Malley claims the Christie administration is pressuring the Pinelands Commission to approve the project.

“This is a battle about the independence of commissions in this state. This is a battle on the importance of not only planning, but on whether our representatives can remain independent from Governor Chris Christie.”

New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel hopes the Pinelands Commission rejects the project, but said opponents won’t give up if it’s approved.

“We’re going to keep fighting. Whether we’re going to keep fighting politically with the legislature to do something to overturn it or we’re going to go back to court. We have no problems to go back to court. We them once in court, we’ll do it again.”

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