The South Jersey Chapter has joined a large coalition of groups fighting a gas pipeline through the Pinelands of NJ. The Pinelands is a unique ecosystem that is protected by federal law through the Pinelands National Reserve. There are also four state parks that protect additional Pineland areas as well. In total it is one of the largest undeveloped areas of land on the eastern seaboard from Boston to Washington, D.C., atop the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer with 17 trillion gallons of clean water.
South Jersey Gas wants to bury a 24-inch pipeline through the Pinelands where development is not allowed in order to feed the BL England power plant with natural gas. The company could avoid disturbing the Pinelands altogether but this is the shortest and cheapest route. The power plant uses a once-through cooling system that is violating the Clean Water Act and killing marine life in Great Egg Harbor Bay and is the subject of a lawsuit. Allowing the pipeline would degrade water quality in the Maurice River, and the Great Egg Harbor Bay watersheds as well as set a precedent for development in the Pinelands where is has not been allowed for 40 years. The Chapter also fears this pipeline would be allowed to connect to offshore LNG facilities in the future.
The Pinelands Commission has authority over development here and their staff is recommending approval of the pipeline, even though it violates Pinelands Commission rules. The NJ BPU has authority over such applications from utilities, but local municipalities still hold some decision making power over zoning in their towns. The South Jersey Chapter is asking them to vote no on approving the pipeline.