Former N.J. governors oppose plan for natural gas pipeline in Pinelands

Four former New Jersey governors are urging officials to turn down plans for a natural-gas pipeline that would run through the Pinelands.

In a letter to the Pinelands Commission, Christie Whitman, Jim Florio, Tom Kean and Brendan Byrne say the project would compromise the integrity of one of New Jersey’s most precious resources and encourage future development.

Jacklyn Rhoads, assistant executive director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, said that letter will make a big difference.

“We’re hoping that it sends a clear message that this project is not good for the Pinelands, that it’s going to set a poor precedent in the future,” she said Wednesday.

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While environmentalists say the project would have a negative impact on water and air quality, supporters say it would create jobs and help meet energy needs in South Jersey.

And officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection said last week the pipeline would drastically reduce air pollution in the region by enabling an old coal-burning power plant to use cleaner natural gas.

The Pinelands Commission is expected to vote on the 22-mile pipeline plan next month.

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