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Pinelands or Pipelands?

by Emmy Frank - Staff Writer

Another controversial pipeline approved

Tue, Feb 28th 2017 09:15 pm
Photo taken from Ed Joyce on Twitter

On Friday, Feb. 24, New Jersey environmental regulators approved a plan to run a natural gas pipeline through the Pinelands Forest Preserve. The New Jersey Pinelands Commission voted nine in favor and five against the pipeline, with one abstention.
Photo taken from Ed Joyce on Twitter On Friday, Feb. 24, New Jersey environmental regulators approved a plan to run a natural gas pipeline through the Pinelands Forest Preserve. The New Jersey Pinelands Commission voted nine in favor and five against the pipeline, with one abstention.

On Friday, Feb. 24, New Jersey environmental regulators approved a plan to run a natural gas pipeline through the Pinelands Forest Preserve. The New Jersey Pinelands Commission voted nine in favor and five against the pipeline, with one abstention.

According to the NBC article, "Controversial Pinelands Forest Preserve Pipeline Approved by New Jersey Regulators", the meeting was met with angry protesters. Armed with signs, drums and tambourines, they shouted "No! No! No!" for nearly 10 minutes when the commission was about to vote. They also repeatedly sang choruses of "This Land is Your Land." When the plan was finally approved, the crowd was outraged. Chants of "Shame on You!" and "See you in Court!" were met with chants from pipeline supporters, yelling "USA! USA!"

This isn't the first time a pipeline was pitched for the Pinelands; a proposal was defeated in 2014 after environmental groups sued. However, since then Governor Chris Christie has replaced several Pinelands commissioners with supporters of the pipeline. 

According to the article, environmentalists argue that the pipeline will harm the Pinelands. They said it will damage the forest's habitat while increasing runoff and erosion. This is of particular concern because the Pinelands have an aquifer that holds about 17 trillion gallons of water.

South Jersey Gas argues that the new pipeline will provide another way to transport natural gas to thousands of people in Atlantic and Cape May counties. Currently, only one pipeline takes gas to nearly 29,000 homes and businesses. Should the pipeline ever fail, the new one would be an alternative. The pipeline would also be a way to create thousands of new jobs while providing a cleaner fuel source to the power plant. 

Although Republicans have a reputation for supporting energy over environment, two former state Republican governors have opposed the pipeline. For many, this is proof of how controversial this pipeline really is.

Carleton Montgomery, executive director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, called the Pinelands vote "a symptom of what's going on nationally" regarding pipeline projects. 

There certainly seems to be a trend growing that puts energy needs over environmental concerns. The decision comes just weeks after the heavily contested construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline was approved to continue. 

President Donald Trump has made it clear that his focus is first and foremost jobs, the economy and energy independence. Although these are admirable goals, it often overshadows environmental hazards that could leave lasting impacts. 

It is easy to think of today's needs over future issues, but pipelines like these hold the risk of severely damaging our resources. Our generation must continue to be conscious of these risks and demand a difference. Otherwise, we will grow to witness alarming changes and suffer the consequences of our actions. 

 

mfran8@brockport.edu

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