Some folks are wondering why we at the South Jersey Chapter of Surfrider Foundation concern ourselves with this seemingly innocuous issue. The Pinelands National Reserve protects approximately 17 trillion gallons of water. The Pinelands Act and the Comprehensive Management Plan afford needed protections to this area-over a million acres and a UNESCO biosphere which encompasses several watersheds important to NJ’s coastal waters, beaches, and drinking water, particularly in the Southern half of the state. If we allow the rules to be broken in the instance of the South Jersey Gas pipeline, regardless of how “worthy” (which remains debatable) it may seem to some, we run the risk of a cascading domino effect of eroding protections which garnered bi-partisan support since the inception of this prescient regulatory act and which will impact negatively on our ocean, beaches, drinking water and future security.
We are witnessing, up close and personal, what seems to be the governor’s office meddling in an independent regulatory body. We are seeing politicians throwing their weight behind this pipeline and what appears to be an unusually close relationship between those who should be protecting this resource and those that would profit from an easy, cheap route for their pipeline. And we are seeing more pipelines, built at the taxpayer’s expense, which are the last thing a coast that is both sinking and experiencing rising tides needs. One wonders, especially with certain easing of restrictions, that these pipelines foretell future growth for this fragile area.
For more info on the South Jersey Gas Pipeline, please visit here. For the new, and equally outrageous (because of recently FOIA’d emails, which point to a cosy relationship between Pinelands Commission Staff and New Jersey Gas) New Jersey Natural Gas pipeline, please visit here. Good reading on the craziness of the entire project can also be found here.