By David Madden

By David Madden

PEMBERTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — A natural gas company’s plans to put a 22-mile pipeline through the New Jersey Pinelands have been dealt a setback, as the Pinelands Commission votes down the proposal.

The plan by South Jersey Gas was to hook the line to a Cape May County power plant that is currently burning coal, to provide backup service to customers along the South Jersey shore.

The commission fell one vote short of the eight needed to proceed with the project, which pitted business and labor unions against environmentalists (see related story).

“(Today’s decision) showed the Pinelands Commission reasserting itself,” says Carleton Montgomery, who heads the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, “making clear that the commission is going to take as its fundamental mission and objective to preserve Pinelands resources.”

Under the proposal, South Jersey Gas would have paid $8 million to a Pinelands fund for an exemption from a ban on new transmission lines in the 1.1-million-acre reserve.

So what happens next? Montgomery says the utility could submit another plan that meets guidelines for development within the Pinelands.

A spokesperson for South Jersey Industries, parent company of the utility, expressed disappointment in the vote and says they are exploring their options.

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