The hatchet job at the Pinelands Commission has commenced in full force. Christie  sacked two anti-pipeline Commissioners and nominated two “yes men” for the pipeline  following the Cumberland Freeholders’ ejection of their anti-pipeline Commissioner. Since the Pinelands Commissioners voted to uphold the Pinelands Comprehensive Management plan and NOT issue a “memorandum of agreement” which would have been in clear violation of the plan, we have witnessed a flurry of political retribution and ire. State Senator Van Drew immediately tossed his hat into the pipeline fray, by slamming the Commission’s decision. His stance has since precipitated an entire domino effect in these often forgotten sections of South Jersey.

The Cumberland Freeholders subsequently voted to oust long term Pinelands Commissioner, Leslie Ficcaglia. There really is no mystery why she was “replaced” nor was there a mystery when Christie, following the Freeholders’ lead, axed two more Commissioners who had voted to uphold the law of the CMP (Comprehensive Management Plan). And please let’s not forget that prior to axing these two competent Commissioners, Christie had “voided” the minutes, effectively killing a much needed raise for the severely underfunded staff at the Commission. Ah yea, paybacks are a bitch! And just a quick note here-while, 5% might seem like a lot, if you saw for how long these folks, who work to protect our public natural resources, have NOT had a raise, you’d be astonished and appalled.

The assault on our coastal watersheds continues unabated, led in part by South Jersey elected officials like Van Drew. He appeared in Millville recently at a public hearing about a “Green Acres” give back that would enable a private interest to develop the land.  There’s a lot that isn’t right with that land swap deal, and folks at Citizens United for the protection of the Maurice Watershed can totally expand on this. Despite the amount of work on the plates of the folks at CU, they do respond quickly to emails! Anyway, like the Pinelands Pipe, Van Drew was once again on the wrong side of “we the people” and on the right side of “we the big industry” at this public hearing.

It seems that North Jersey has nothing on South Jersey when it comes to dirty politics, pay to play, at the sacrifice of the people’s resources. It just seems so insane, at a time when sea levels are rising, our land is sinking, that we are battling a pipeline where it doesn’t belong in order to power a coastal power plant, vulnerable to flooding, when renewables are right at our doorstep. One has to wonder why Christie, Van Drew, and the rest of the South Jersey gang, are pushing for the continued operation of a water polluting, vulnerable power plant. Clearly, this battle is far from over.