Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tennessee Gas Pipeline Project: Why Is It Allowed in Preserved Parkland?


Ramapo Valley Reservation   (photo/Jan Barry)

Tennessee Gas Co. wants to build a pipeline that will tear through land that is reserved. The gas line project proposed to be built from Asylum, PA to Mahwah, NJ has a feeling of inevitability. This is one of  those things where the powers-that-be, I think, will have their way no matter what the general public has to say. One thing I have taken away from studying environmental issues is that the general public--especially the less wealthy--and environment play second fiddle to money and corporations. There’s hope, of course, that the people will stand up and say, no this isn’t happening. But, how many people will come to do that?

There obviously are serious concerns with the mega-million project, including damage to the pristine land--tearing through the Ramapo Reservation--and also the problems that come with fracking for natural gas for the pipeline. I wonder what is the point of reserving land if you’re going to destroy it anyway. Reservations are turning into layaways for companies. The same way department stores used to let customers put products on reserve to buy them at a later date, is what going on here. People and other businesses can’t build on this land. How strange that a gas-related project gets precedent over everything else.

The reason I say this feels like an inevitable project is because Tennessee Gas claims they are at capacity with their current gas line. This means they have little choice if they want to expand their business; and when it comes to business or the public’s concern, I think history has made it clear that business wins out more often than not. Much like how toxic sludge was left behind in poor neighborhoods, forests and riverbanks, people need to remember that businesses are businesses first and care what other people say second.

What I dislike the most about this project is that it would go through the Ramapo Reservation. It’s called a reservation for a reason. We’re supposed to reserve and cherish the beautiful land that we are quickly gutting for selfish and irresponsible reasons. I understand where the public outcry is coming from. If this were my backyard or hometown, I would feel the same way. 

Ford Motor Co. already ruined an unknown but very high number of lives, tainted several areas of watershed lands and stayed completely negligent about it for decades. Why are we going to allow another vehicle/gas related company come in and possibly further the damage even more? 

To appreciate just how nice that land is, you have to go up there and take a walk through the woods and check out the river. Then, you need to imagine what this land would look like all dug up. Then you need to also remember how the potential hazards could always be there.

What I would propose is some ingenuity in finding other ways. Anytime people can resort to not tearing apart land is a solution I can back. Much like the Ramapough who were very persistent--along with a team of activists and friends, they got the ball rolling in reporting what was going on with paint sludge. Those people got their story out and it lead to other towns' pollution being cleaned up. So now the public needs to stand up and say no to this pipeline project, before it’s too late.

Thomas Babcock hones his writing and critical thinking skills at Ramapo College. 

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