By Cleve Bryan
UPPER TWP, NJ (CBS) – Opponents of a natural gas pipeline to convert the BL England Electric Generation Facility are rallying support before a meeting of the NJ Pinelands Commission.
The proposed pipeline would travel south of Millville for 22 miles to Upper Township in Cape May County.
So far, South Jersey Gas has approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NJ Dept of Environmental Protection and NJ Board of Public Utilities.
The final hurdle for the $90 million 24-inch gas transmission pipeline is approval by the NJ Pinelands Commission.
The Pinelands Preservation Alliance is helping lead opposition to the pipeline, which they say serves no direct service to people in the Pinelands.
“It’s bad for the Pinelands because it doesn’t meet the rules,” says Theresa Lettman, from the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.
Lettman says construction of the pipeline poses to disturb the natural habitat, even though it is supposed to be built along roadways and other cleared right-of-ways.
She says construction of a pipeline through the Pinelands Forest Management Area for private industry could allow for pressure to build future infrastructure.
“If we let the first one in, there’s going to be more applications, and so where do you draw the line? We want the Commission to do what they have been put in place to do, [which] is to protect, preserve and enhance the Pinelands,” says Lettman.
South Jersey Gas president Jeff DuBois counters criticism about the environmental impact, saying only 12 trees would be cut down along the entire 22 mile stretch.
“There is not deforestation of the Pinelands,” says DuBois.
He points to the big picture environmental impact that Governor Christie’s office has gone on record to praise, which is the conversion from coal to natural gas energy.
“Overall, there should be a benefit because of the fact that natural gas is a much more clean burning fuel than the coal,” says DuBois.
The Pinelands Commission plans to meet next on August 28th at 9:30 a.m.