Thursday, May 21, 2015

To no one’s surprise, the Pinelands pipeline is back in play

The much debated and twice-rejected South Jersey Gas proposal to build a natural gas pipeline through the Pinelands is back in the news.

As before, South Jersey Gas is seeking to construct the pipeline so that the coal-dependent B.L.England power plant can convert to natural-gas fueled turbines that will generate cleaner energy and avoid an environmental regulation shutdown.

“This project is being built primarily to benefit the Pinelands,” says South Jersey Gas's VP Bob Fatzinger with a straight face. (See the video).

Liar, liar pants on fire is basically the response from the Sierra Club's Jeff Tittel and Pinelands Alliance's Jaclyn Rhoads.

There is no surprise that the proposal is being revived. The company and its political backers, including Governor Chris Christie, his Department of Environmental Protection, and local state Senator Jeff Van Drew, who has close ties to local utility workers, all pushed mightily to get Bob Barr appointed as a new member on the Pinelands Commission so he could provide the crucial 'yes' vote to break a 7-7 deadlock.

The only plot twist so far this round is that Barr proclaims that he will not play a rubber stamp role. Perhaps for that reason, pipeline advocates now are taking the position that a vote of the commission is not necessary. The Pinelands plan, they contend, already allows for approval since the pipeline will run along existing roadways, will not impact forests, and won't require the filling of wetlands.

In the video above, NJTV News’ Brenda Flanagan introduces the latest sequel in this multi-season, eco-drama. Feel free to supply your own fuel in the comment box below.

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