Plan to put gas pipeline in Pinelands spurs ire

dogg57

Piney
Jan 22, 2007
2,911
372
1,063
Southern NJ
southjerseyphotos.com
Plans to build a natural gas pipeline from Millville to Upper Township are moving forward, even as critics and supporters continue to debate the value of the project.
Approval by the Pinelands Commission would be the last major hurdle for the project, which has already received the go-ahead from the state Board of Public Utilities, the Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/breaking/plans-for-gas-pipeline-through-pinelands-move-forward-despite-continued/article_276acd86-97d5-56d1-a7c2-77d25a637e8a.html
 

Boyd

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Jul 31, 2004
6,922
1,212
1,093
Ben's Branch, Stephen Creek
Just received this from the PPA

October 26, 2013
Pinelands Preservation Alliance
Next Steps to Oppose the Pipeline

Thank you if you were able to Take Action this week and let the Pinelands Commission know they need to deny the South Jersey Gas Pipeline project!

We know the phone was ringing off the hook at the Commission's offices and 27 people were able to attend Wednesday's meeting and speak out against this project. We also know that many letters and emails have been sent to the Commission.

What Happens Next?

It is likely that in the next few weeks an MOA for this project will be posted on the Commission's website (www.state.nj.us/pinelands). This is the draft agreement that would essentially waive the regulations that prohibit this project.

A public hearing will be held. This is your last chance to tell the Commissioners they should say NO to the pipeline. After the public hearing you are no longer allowed to talk about this project at a Commission meeting or submit comments for the record. Note: Commissioners are not required to attend the public hearing.

The full Pinelands Commission must vote to approve or deny the MOA for this project.
Your Best Chance to Speak to all the Commissioners:

Your best (and maybe last) chance to speak to all the Commissioners is their monthly meeting on November 8th. The meeting starts at 9:30 am and is held at their office on 15 Springfield Road, Pemberton NJ. Call PPA at 609-859-8860 before attending a meeting in case they change the dates or times.

Other Things You Can Do

Email and Write Nancy Wittenberg, Executive Director and Mark Lohbauer, Chairman of the Pinelands Commission. Tell them you oppose the South Jersey Gas Pipeline and that you expect them to protect the Pinelands, not waive the regulations that protect them.

Email: info@njpines.state.nj.us (Include name & mailing address in your email)
Address: Pinelands Commission, PO Box 359, New Lisbon NJ 08064
 
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Ben Ruset

Administrator
Site Administrator
Oct 12, 2004
7,325
1,121
1,093
41
Asbury Park, NJ
Just got this from Change.org. The Pinelands Commissioners comments are disturbing:

Hello Fellow Citizens!
We would like to give everyone a brief news update on Pinelands pipeline proposal. Several noteworthy events have occurred since we’ve last touched base with our change.org community.
1. The number of signatures continues to grow: we are just shy of 12,000 supporters! We’d like to welcome our newest supporters and a remind each of you to continue to spread the word. Progress would not be possible without each and every one of your signatures. We must remind the Pinelands Commission that we want our voices to be heard!
2. Kevin Heatley, restoration ecologist, provided a wonderful scientific presentation on Oct 16th. He highlighted many of the ecological impacts of a pipeline carrying fracked gas through the pinelands. For everyone who attended, we would like to extend a hug Thank You! For those of you who could not attend, we are in the process of creating a YouTube video of the presentation so that you can view the presentation, share it with your fellow citizens, encourage them to join this movement, and use this information to take action and contact your local officials.
3. On October 31st a 14 minute audio recording was released. The audio was recorded during a public portion of the September 13th monthly Pinelands Commission meeting. During this public portion of the meeting, most of the public had already left the building. While one commissioner clearly wanted to allow testimony from both environmentalists and developers, there was one commissioner who appeared to only want to allow testimony from the developers. The audio is quite disturbing for many reasons and it highlights why the public must continue to demand that our voices be heard. Below are just a few of the disturbing statements paraphrased from the recording:

“I do not care what the public thinks”

“We did not keep this a secret, it’s not my fault that the public missed it”
“for the majority of applications its irrelevant. You get a pre-app, but for a certain percentage of them (applications)...they are controversial”
“The real key on all sides is to be sure to keep saying that this is not a decision, this isn’t the end of the process, this is the beginning of the process. The outside world doesn’t understand that....we have to be upfront (some joke about treating the public like kindergarteners)...it’s not a done deal.” We get that it’s not a done deal, but what we conclude is that the Commission is still considering bending the rules outlined in the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan.
On a positive note, one commissioner states: “We should get testimony from an independent expert and also let the gas company to present testimony as well. However, he is immediately rebutted because “an independent impartial expert is impossible.” If the Commission is allowing a gas company to present, why can’t someone who is an environmental expert also be allowed to present to the Commission?
“We have no standard for what is an equivalent protection of pinelands.” If there is no standard, then the research needs to be completed, especially if the Commission is even going to consider the possibility of approving the pipeline.
If you would like to formulate your own opinion, feel free to listen to the audio here: http://vocaroo.com/i/s1Yzir0VtaA6. In addition, Bill Wolfe wrote a very revealing summary of the audio recording, which we highly recommend reading (http://www.wolfenotes.com/2013/10/pinelands-commission-caught-on-tape-a-glimpse-into-what-they-really-think/).
4. Lastly, Keep the Frack Out has released Part 2 of Episode 1. If you want to see what natural resources we are risking, I highly recommend watching this video. The cinematic video explores the natural landscape and protected Forest Areas of the proposed pipeline route (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjP2YfeCtSQ).
We’d like to leave you with one last thought and it comes directly from the Pinelands Reserve Comprehensive Management Plan: Forest Areas serve to provide a suitable ecological reserve for the maintenance of the Pinelands environment. These undisturbed, forested portions of the Protection Area support characteristic Pinelands plant and animal species and provide
suitable habitat for many threatened and endangered species. These largely undeveloped areas are an essential element of the Pinelands environment, contain high quality water resources and wetlands, and are very sensitive to random and uncontrolled development. Although the
overall type and level of development must be strictly limited, some parts of the Forest Areas are more suitable for development than others provided that such development is subject to strict environmental performance standards.

Thank you reading and continuing to share in our cause!
Sincerely,
Claire @ Keep The Frack Out

P.S. Please visit these websites for further information:
www.keepthefrackout.com
http://www.pinelandsalliance.org/
https://www.facebook.com/DontGasThePinelands

[/quote[
 

Ben Ruset

Administrator
Site Administrator
Oct 12, 2004
7,325
1,121
1,093
41
Asbury Park, NJ
Just got this from the PPA:

Thank you for all your support in opposing the gas pipeline proposed in New Jersey's Pinelands. It means so much to our staff, trustees and volunteers to see so many people taking action on behalf of the Pinelands!

There were many new and eloquent voices at November 8th Pinelands Commission meeting. 24 people spoke and let the Commission know that we expect them to defend the Pinelands by denying this project.

Your Next Chance to Speak to the Commission:
Sub-Committee Meeting, November 22nd
The meeting starts at 9:30 am and is held at their office on 15 Springfield Road, Pemberton NJ. You are allowed to share comments about the Pipeline issue during the General Public Comments part of the agenda.

Here is a link to the agenda for the meeting.

Here is a link for directions to the Commission's offices.

Please help us continue to pressure the Commission to make the right decision by attending this meeting. If you have a green Protect the Pinelands/Stop the Pipeline t-shirt please wear it. If you have already attended a meeting or taken action in some other way - Thank You!!


What Happens Next?
  • It is likely that in a few weeks an MOA will be posted on the Commission's website (www.state.nj.us/pinelands). An MOA is a draft agreement that would essentially waive the regulations that prohibit this project.
  • A public hearing will be held. This is your last chance to tell the Commissioners they should say NO to the pipeline. After the public hearing you are no longer allowed to talk about this project at a Commission meeting or submit comments for the record. Note: Commissioners are not required to attend the public hearing.
  • The full Pinelands Commission must vote to approve or deny the MOA for this project.

We will keep you informed. Thank you again!
 

jokerman

Explorer
May 29, 2003
336
11
18
Manasquan
I am just reading this for the first time now. It looks like the Pinelands Commission has obviously accepted bribes to allow this to happen. Why else would they be fighting for this development and going completely against what they were trusted to do. I mean come on, how much more obvious can it be? I have to write a letter to them and let him know that I'm onto their agenda. New Jersey citizens should ask for his resignation. Isn't there other parts of the govt that can intervene?
 

46er

Piney
Mar 24, 2004
8,464
1,915
1,093
Coastal NJ
I would not pop the corks on the champagne just yet. Stuff like this usually heads to the courts and who knows what they will decide. Could be a lot worse than something the commission could have negotiated. Time will tell. That's what happened to the PSE&G power line in the NW part of the state.
 

Boyd

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Jul 31, 2004
6,922
1,212
1,093
Ben's Branch, Stephen Creek
Could be a lot worse than something the commission could have negotiated.
I am opposed to the pipeline and hope they don't build it. However, IIRC the state paid $2 million for the new 5000 acre Lenape Farms WMA. At that price, the $8 million that was discussed in the pipeline deal might be able to preserve as much as 20,000 acres.

OTOH, it might just end up in the pockets of some wealthy political allies...
 

c1nj

Explorer
Nov 19, 2008
113
28
28
Or maybe buy the Holly Farm. The pipeline will still go in, they will just make it go through an area that is not in the "Pinelands" but should have been in the "Pinelands".
 

Ben Ruset

Administrator
Site Administrator
Oct 12, 2004
7,325
1,121
1,093
41
Asbury Park, NJ
Well, even if the PC purchases a bunch of land, they'll be able to sell development rights or rights of way through it with the idea that they'll just buy up some other land somewhere else.

It's stupid. You're not supposed to do what SJ Gas wanted to do. It should have never even got this far.
 
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Boyd

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Jul 31, 2004
6,922
1,212
1,093
Ben's Branch, Stephen Creek
I would not pop the corks on the champagne just yet.
Just received this today...
________________________________________________________________________
Public Hearing
South Jersey Gas Pipeline Project
Monday, December 9th at 5:00 pm
Galloway Township Municipal Building

Dear (Contact First Name),
I hope you can attend the public hearing on the South Jersey Gas Pipeline project. In all my years at the Pinelands Preservation Alliance I see this as one of the top five threats to the future of the Pinelands because it would set a precedent that can never be taken back.
If they waive their rules and approve this project then we know that $8 million is what it takes to have your way with the Pinelands Commission. $8 million is nowhere near enough to provide the same protection for the Pinelands as actually enforcing the rules would.
It is so very important that you attend this hearing. It will be packed with supporters of this project and we must be sure that your point of view is heard.
Public Hearing
Monday, December 9th at 5:00 pm
Galloway Township Municipal Building
300 E. Jimmie Leeds Road
Galloway, NJ 08205
The hearing is scheduled to go from 5:00 pm to 11:00 p.m. The earlier you can arrive, the better. You will have to sign up to speak. If people are still waiting to speak at the end of the hearing - the Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg has the authority to extend the public hearing portion to another day.
Talking Points
Your testimony must be relevant in order to be included in the record that will be provided to all the Commissioners before they vote. Here is a summary of some of the major points that I hope will help you.
1. This project violates the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan, plain and simple. How? Because the CMP prohibits using the Forest Management Area as a transit route for pipelines, unless it is "intended to primarily serve the needs of the Pinelands." N.J.A.C. 7:50-5.23. The Pinelands Commission staff stated that this project doesn't meet that standard - and it is obviously designed to serve people outside the Pinelands.
2. It is not the Commission's job to find a route for the Pipeline or help private companies realize their preferred business plans. The Commission's job is to protect the Pinelands.
3. If they waive their rules and approve this Pipeline project they will be unable to deny any future application for a pipeline in a protected area. And there will be more applications for more pipelines and other infrastructure projects.
4. In order to allow this project the Commission would have to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that would allow them to waive their rules.They can only enter into MOA's with "public agencies" for "public development" (like a municipal building). Since South Jersey Gas is a private company, they are proposing to enter into this MOA with the Board of Public Utilities (BPU).
5. But, the BPU is a regulatory agency who oversees regulated utilities like South Jersey Gas. They bear no financial responsibility for this project. How can the BPU, who regulates South Jersey Gas, enter into an agreement on their behalf? It is South Jersey Gas who will pay for the project, make money on the project, enter into work contracts for the project and assume liability for the project. This is an illegal use of the MOA function.
6. This MOA requires South Jersey Gas to pay $8 million in order to ensure an "equivalent level of protection" for Pinelands resources. $7,250,000 would go into the Pinelands Conservation Fund to buy land along the pipeline route. We question the need to do this since much of this region is in the Forest Management Area and has pretty stringent protections already, if they enforce them. $250,000 would go toward the creation of a Pinelands Education Center at the Commission's own headquarters and the remaining $500,000 would go toward the Commission's education and outreach programs. How is this an "equivalent level of protection?"
7. Pinelands Commissioners are rightly questioning the legality of this deal, because it would waive the rules for a private development, and the state Attorney General's office has refused to give an opinion endorsing its legality.
8. This project has been rushed through - and a project this big with such huge implications requires careful consideration by all involved. The Commissioners have raised numerous fundamental questions about the legality, the necessity and the environmental impacts of this deal - which have not been adequately answered.
Not to mention that the public hearing was posted on the Commission's website the day before Thanksgiving and published in the newspapers with the wrong street address for the Municipal Building until PPA staff pointed it out to them on December 3rd.
Tips for giving public comment
Write your comments down. It will help you stay focused and you can hand them in for the record afterward. If you have to leave before your turn to speak you can make sure your thoughts are at least submitted in writing.
Stay calm and refrain from insulting or degrading language, which will only discount the valid points you made. Don't ruin a great point by dropping f-bombs or other insulting language. Keep in mind that people are more likely to listen to others who present themselves as engaged, reasonable, and well-informed.
Follow the Public Hearing on Twitter/Facebook with live updates from PPA Staff
If you are at the hearing and want to give a live update use #NoSJGas so people can follow what is happening. You can do this on Facebook and Twitter.
PPA Staff will be giving live updates via Twitter and Facebook. Find us on Twitter @PinesAlliance or http://www.twitter.com/PinesAlliance or Facebook at www.facebook.com/Pinelands
More Information:
Looking for information? Here are some links to some great coverage of this issue.
Action News Story
Visit PPA's website and click on the link on our homepage.
Asbury Park Press Op Ed
Coverage of the Public Hearing Announcement
Visit the Commissions Website to get:
Thank you for all your hard work on behalf of the Pines!
Carleton
Carleton Montgomery
Executive Director