The room was tense as Commissioners provided comment. Sorry that this run-down of events is so brief-more brief than something that has occupied us for months and months deserves-but I’ll expand later, or at least provide a link that will explain everything far better than I. The vote was a tie, which means no deal as eight votes were needed to approve the MOA.
The following Commissioners voted NOT to approve the MOA: Chairman Mark Lohbauer, Candace Ashmun, a gubernatorial appointee, Joseph DeBello, the Federal Representative, Leslie Ficcaglia of Cumberland County, Robert Jackson, a gubernatorial appointee, Richard Prickett, a gubernatorial appointee, and D’Arcy Rohan Green, a gubernatorial appointee.
Suffice to say that the following Commissioners voted to approve the MOA: Alan Avery of Ocean County, William Brown of Cape May County, Sean Earlen of Burlington County, Paul Galletta of Atlantic County, Edward McGlinchey of Camden County, Francis Witt of Gloucester County and Gary Quinn, a gubernatorial appointee. The County Commissioners are appointed by their counties. This was a total of seven votes in favor of an MOA. Not enough to approve the MOA!
So much thanks goes to the many individuals-wonderful folks from all over our state-and the following organizations that were involved in this very, very rare occurrence– the first ever MOA to NOT win approval. The groups that helped protect our Pinelands and who encouraged the Commissioners to hold fast to the Pinelands Commission Comprehensive Management Plan are the following: Pinelands Preservation Alliance, NJ Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, Food and Water Watch, NJ 350.org, Water Watch International, Environment NJ, NJ PEER, New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Rancocas Conservancy, Clean Ocean Action (yes, Cindy Zipf came down and issued a statement!), Pipeline Walkers (and another pipeline group I’m totally blanking on), Protecting Our Waters, Delaware Riverkeeper, Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association, a rag group of folks affectionately known as “Don’t Gas the Pinelands,” and I really, really hope I’m not forgetting anyone!!! Sorry if I am!! and of course much thanks go to the exec board and members at our South Jersey Chapter of Surfrider Foundation for joining this group of Pinelands Protectors and completely activating themselves. It is a complete honor to be a part of this, and I keep it present tense on purpose. While we have scored a wonderful victory today, we know that we must keep abreast of any future developments concerning this pipeline. South Jersey Gas is not going to go quietly into that good night.