Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cutting Through the New Jersey Highlands

By Michael-Thomas Marciante

The National Park Service is in an uproar over the State of New Jersey’s approval of the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line to be built this summer. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities gave Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) approval for a $750 million electric transmision line project to begin construction in Montvale and cut through state and federal forest and parklands. Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club exclaimed open resentment over New Jersey’s decision to allow construction in the New Jersey Highlands.

On April 20, Brian T. Murray (one of New Jersey’s renowned environmental journalists) of the Star Ledger covered the Board of Public Utilities’ decision. The large gray, possible cancer causing 500 kilo watt towers will run through 146 miles including the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. In February of this year, the National Park Service held a hearing over the soon to be decided issues, saying they do not want this project to be approved.

"This is the height of arrogance. ... PSE&G is trying to use this as leverage by saying that construction has begun and money has been spent," said the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club.

The American Transmission Company has a mission statement on their website stating how the transmission lines effect the environment: “State and federal laws regulate all aspects of sitting and building transmission lines. When planning to build a transmission line, state law requires the company constructing the line to develop a plan that details information about environmentally sensitive resources on the proposed route and steps to be taken to avoid or minimize adverse impacts on those resources. “

However, a company is not always observant of the effects that their construction can cause to the environment. While the existence of transmission towers may not drastically effect the environment, the construction might. Imagine workers by the hundreds, electricians, construction steel workers, and laborers; these are all people working, eating, possibly smoking all on federally protected land.

In response to open resentment over their coming summer project, PSE&G stated that the construction will bring better utilities and prevent blackouts for the northern New Jersey area.

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