The South Jersey Chapter of Surfrider Foundation supports the Pinelands Commission’s mission to preserve and protect the Pinelands National Reserve. We stand in solidarity with many environmental groups, both within our state and outside of it, to oppose the Pinelands Commission’s MOA, “memorandum of agreement,” with South Jersey Gas. In exchange for the right to put in a pipeline to re-power the aging, Clean Water Act violating BL England power plant, as well as to provide “redundancy,” the Pinelands Commission would receive $8 million dollars. This MOA would allow 14 miles of a proposed 22 mile pipeline to cut through protected land.
The BL England power plant currently is in violation of the Clean Water Act. In fact, the NJ Sierra Club and Clean Ocean Action initiated a lawsuit because of this continued violation. This lawsuit could possibly even close the plant. The redundancy issue is another sticky point. This is a pipeline, after all, so if one fails, wouldn’t it stand to reason we could possibly have a failure at some future point with the new one? Even the BPU (Board of Public Utilities) at a public meeting couldn’t give a guarantee of safety for this pipeline.
SJG consulted with Pinelands Commission staff to pick “the best” of three possible routes. On it’s face, it seems like a conflict of interest when one considers that the Pinelands Commission was set up to protect the Pinelands, NOT to help private companies pick the “best” routes for their projects, especially when there is an option that would not involve the Pinelands. The forced recusal of Commissioner Ed Lloyd, recently noted by the New York Times and various other NJ media outlets and the intense back-room negotiations before this project was made public makes one wonder how pure this process has been from the start.
As DC Surfrider noted years ago, protecting our bays and coastal waters is “an upstream battle.” We are lucky to enjoy such a pristine watershed in this most densely populated little coastal state with 132 gorgeous miles of coastline. We intend to keep it that way! We strongly stand behind the mission and intent of Pinelands Commission rules and regulations. “No Way to the MOA!”