Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Highlands Pipeline: Fight for the Forests

By Ben Reuter

Judy Sullivan, the president of the Ramapough Conservancy, recently gave a presentation to our class about the pipeline that is being upgraded in North Jersey. The pipeline is a natural gas pipeline that is an extension line for Tennessee Gas, which is a subsidiary of El Paso Pipeline Partners, a major pipeline company that has laid hundreds of miles of pipelines across the North east.

Much of the natural gas that is being pumped through these pipes is gas that has been drilled through the uses of hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ that is taking place in Pennsylvania. Fracking is an enormously destructive way of drilling, but the new surge of gas presented by this awful drilling technique means there must be an expansion in the infrastructure designed to distribute the gas. The pushes in upgrading pipeline have caused major environmental devastation to the forested areas and watershed areas all along the New Jersey Highland Area. 
The pipeline that runs West to East across the northern part of New Jersey is already in place and has been for a number of years, but the new construction that is currently in the works is a whole new pipeline that is being laid down. A much larger diameter pipe is being laid alongside the old pipe along the same clear cutting that runs through the forests in North Jersey like a highway. Even though the new pipe is being set along the same path as the old pipe, there is still major amounts of new clear cutting of trees and vegetation that has to happen. Due to the addition of pipe, they need to have room for large construction vehicles to maneuver and travel along the pipelines in order to lay them down.
The destructive clear cutting and construction that is taking place with this new pipeline project is causing wildlife problems as well as pollution problems, Sullivan said. The use of so many large construction vehicles are a concern due to the amount of pollution from the exhaust and any gas or oil leaks from the vehicles right in the heart of some of the most pristine and preserved forests in New Jersey.

Along with pollution during the project, a part of the pipeline is to be laid on the bottom of the Monksville Reservoir, which is a major source for drinking water to millions of people in New Jersey. The pipeline does not have any fail safes in case of a pipe break or rupture. This means that if this pipe, full of unrefined natural gas, breaks near the banks or under the Monksville Reservoir then millions of people in New Jersey will have poisoned drinking water.
The pipeline cuts through the Monksville Reservoir and continues its path through the Ringwood State Park, which is a local heaven for nature enthusiasts. The pipes then continue through the Ramapo Reservation in Mahwah, which is another beautiful forested area that is becoming tainted by the construction of the new pipeline.

The local people in these North Jersey communities are outraged that oil and gas companies can plow through their forests and drinking water holes in order to give the companies a bigger shot at distribution centers. The gas companies have been advertising the positive effects of their actions by explaining the ‘good’ the new gas will do for the American public. However, the environmental damages that their actions have caused are going unnoticed or are pushed aside. 

More and more people are being brought to attention of this fight for the forests and are pushing the cause for no more pipelines in this area. If you live in North Jersey or if you have any love for the natural beauty of North America’s forests, then spread the word against new pipelines through our region for the sake of our own healthy drinking water, as well as the preservation of this beautiful landscape.

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