By Amanda Daley
A 7-mile gas pipeline has been approved by the New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council. After hours of debating, the Highlands regional council voted 11-2 last month to recommend state support for the controversial project, according to Tom Johnson of NJ Spotlight. The pipeline route would run through state parklands and reservoir lands to Mahwah.
The Christie administration feels that this project, which would expand an existing gas pipeline network, will allow us to take advantage of cheaper natural gasses, Johnson added. Many residents in New Jersey are worried that this may jeopardize our water supply. Carl Richko, a Highlands Council member from West Milford, said this decision “will come back to haunt us.”
Eleven members of the council assured residents that the project would be closely monitored and if any problems were to occur they would be corrected immediately. Jim Rilee, chairman on the Highlands Council, said that necessary precautions will be taken to ensure the safety of the region’s natural resources.
Many New Jersey residents spoke against the pipeline plan at the Highlands Council hearing. Jeff Tittel, of the NJ Sierra Club, said that this isn’t an upgrade, but a new pipeline and that it would cause erosion. Julia Somers, of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition, said that it is going to leave a “massive scar across the region” and that this is “not what the Highlands were preserved for.”
Another speaker argued that this pipeline is not exempted from the Highlands Act regulations because it is not a public utility, but rather owned by a private company.
The next step is a review of the plan by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has not yet approved it. If they say no, then the pipeline expansion will not happen.
For more information: