Tuesday, April 23, 2013
New Jersey Pipeline: Approved, but not Welcomed
By Bill Pivetz
The issue about the natural gas pipeline that would tear through the New Jersey Highlands has been up for debate for a couple of years. The pipeline will stretch 40 miles from Milford, PA across the Delaware River into northern NJ. One of the areas the pipeline is planned to cut through is the critically sensitive body of water, the Monksville Reservoir, which provides clean drinking water to millions of New Jersey families.
This pipeline has been met with a lot of protest from environmental groups and residents of the neighborhoods that would be affected. Some of the protest groups include the New Jersey Highlands Coalition, Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch and Franciscan Response to Fracking. According to Don Webb of the West Milford Messenger, members of these groups “gathered together at the end of East Shore Road along Greenwood Lake Turnpike for the peaceful ‘Stop The Tennessee Gas Pipeline’” held on January 19.
He spoke with members of the groups, along with West Milford Mayor Bettina Bieri. She said, “West Milford officials have expressed concerns about this project all along, but federal approvals to proceed were already granted before it was brought to our attention.” She continued by urging any stakeholders to withhold any further approvals for the pipeline expansion.
An article published on NJ.com by Ben Horowitz on Feb. 16 provided an update about the pipeline. “The state’s Highlands Council gave its blessing tonight to construction of a gas pipeline stretching 7.6 miles from West Milford to Mahwah” by an 11-2 vote. This was a shift for the council who voted 8-5 last month in favor of delaying the project. “Bergen County Surrogate Michael Dressler, who had led the move to table the project last month, voted in favor of the pipeline tonight, even though he said he ‘hated it.’”
There will now be two pipelines running through northern New Jersey. The article states that this pipeline would run adjacent to an existing one and would be part of the 40-mile expansion between Pennsylvania and Mahwah. The Tennessee Gas company, the company backing this pipeline expansion, would permanently remove 16 acres of forest to build this pipeline. “Its plan would permanently preserve 157.6 acres, including 50 acres of forest —10 more than required,” Horowitz wrote.
There has been some animosity between residents of the affected areas and those opposing the pipeline and the Tennessee Company and the town governments. With previous disasters with pipelines, their concern comes with reason. There have been four pipeline accidents already in 2013. The most recent occurred in Oklahoma on April 4. There was an explosion and fire at a gas compressor station. According to the report, there were no injuries.
It’s because of accidents like these that residents and environmental groups are opposing the pipeline. The fact that they are knocking down acres of forest for the construction is bad enough, but if a pipe bursts and gas spreads into the wells and drinking water, there could be a bigger problem.
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