Pinelands Commission Waits to Rescind Permission for South Jersey Gas Pipeline

By PAT JOHNSON | Apr 24, 2019

New Lisbon — The Pinelands Commission has withdrawn a resolution that would have invalidated its approval of the proposed South Jersey Gas natural gas pipeline. During the April 11 commission meeting, Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg said the resolution would have to be taken up at a future date due to a letter the commission had received that morning.

Resolution PC4-19 (2019) would have invalidated Resolution PC4-17-03. That resolution  would have allowed the South Jersey Gas Co.to install approximately 15 miles of an approximately 22-mile natural gas pipeline within the Pinelands.

The resolution was considered for invalidation because the pipeline was to re-power the BL England coal-fired plant at Beesley’s Point with natural gas. On March 6, the owners of BL England told the commission that they were no longer going to re-power the plant using natural gas.

“Based on new information that RCCM would not re-open BLE using natural gas, the factual basis for the Commission’s approval, as detailed in the February 17, 2017 Executive Director’s Recommendation Report, substantially changed such that the approval could no longer be justified and no response was received from South Jersey Gas … as the project can no longer be demonstrated to be consistent with the CMP, Pinelands Resolution PC4-17-03 approving the project is not valid.”

According to a statement from the commission, “New Jersey Pinelands Commission voted to delay action on a resolution pertaining to South Jersey Gas’ natural gas pipeline application today. Commission members decided to delay action on the resolution to provide the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General with sufficient time to analyze information contained in a letter South Jersey Gas sent to the Commission early this morning.”

The commission also went into executive session to discuss possible litigation during the April 11 meeting.

In a press release, Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said his organization was upset that the commission decided to table the matter but was glad the BL England plant has been closed permanantly.

“The purpose of this pipeline was to build a natural gas plant in Cape May; now that purpose is hot air. The SJG pipeline would not only destroy the Pinelands, but also impact critical drinking water for millions of people. The plant would have emitted an estimated 900,000 metric tons of C02 emission per year in New Jersey (and) would have undermined Gov. Murphy’s 100 percent renewable goals,” said Tittel. “It’s important for the commission to Protect the Pinelands and the people of New Jersey and rescind (its) approval for the South Jersey Gas pipeline. This is an important step forward towards protecting a U.N. biosphere reserve while stopping fracking and its climate impacts.”

The next Pinelands Commission meeting is May 10 at 9:30 a.m. at its headquarters, 15C Springfield Rd. in New Lisbon. As of press time, the agenda was not yet available on the website. All PC meetings are streamed live on the website nj.gov/pinelands/home/meetings/index.shtml.

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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