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Highlands Council Does it Again: Another Sell Out


Date : Thu, 17 Sep 2009 13:03:44 -0400

For Immediate Release

September 17, 2009

Contact: Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

 

Highlands Council Does it Again: Another Sell Out

 

The Highlands Council has done it again. They've agreed to sell out the Highlands for the interests of a utility company. This time, it is for a gas pipeline.

 

After the original determination by the Highlands Council staff that the Tennessee Gas Pipeline was inconsistent with the Highlands Plan, the Council yet again reversed themselves, as they did when they approved the determination for the PSE&G Susquehanna Roseland Transmission Line.

 

"The Highlands Council is more concerned about protecting the profits of utility companies than they are about protecting the Highlands," said NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel. "It's outrageous that within just a few months, the Highlands Council has sold out the Highlands yet again."

This pipeline proposal will cut a trench from one side of the Highlands to the other through some of the region's most important environmentally-sensitive areas, including the watersheds of North Jersey's largest water supply reservoirs.

 

This pipeline, which will span 23 miles through the Highlands, is inconsistent with the Highlands Plan because it is not an upgrade. This is a new pipeline to be dug in a trench parallel to an existing pipeline. It is also bigger and will carry significantly more gas.

 

Our major concern with this pipeline is that it will disturb and destroy more than 230 acres of critical lands in the Highlands, cutting through numerous Category One streams, exception resource value wetlands, critical forest habitats, habitats of threatened and endangered species, and conservation priority areas as designated by the Highlands. The pipeline will also destroy an additional 500 acres during construction to create roads to bring in the necessary equipment. Furthermore, the massive digging that will take place during this project result in a high amount of silt entering these critical waterways and reservoirs.

 

The Highlands Council has once again sold out because, instead of sticking to their original interpretation that this pipeline was inconsistent, they changed opinions based on a bogus mitigation plan. The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company has agreed to buy at least 23 acres of land to mitigate for cutting through the conservation priority areas and will be buying land that's already protected to make up for the disruption. Not only is this not mitigation and the land is already protected, the land itself is actually pretty cheap and will cost the utility company very little.

 

The Highlands Council, in their decision, failed to address environmental justice since this pipeline will be going through the upper Ringwood community, which has endured its share of pollution due to the Ford Super Fund Site. The Highlands Council also failed to address global warming impacts that will come along with an expanded pipeline and more consumption of fossil fuels. The impact on air quality in the communities adjacent to the pipeline, such as upper Ringwood, was not addressed by the Council.

 

We're also concerned that the gas in the pipeline could come from drilling in the Marsalis Shale, located in Pennsylvania and New York. Development of those gas fields will hurt the environment in the Poconos and the Catskills, polluting the Delaware River and affecting New Jersey's water supply.

 

More importantly, this much digging and drilling will have severe water quality impacts on Category One streams and at least seven major reservoirs. Those reservoirs provide drinking water for more than 2.5 million people. Silt contamination of the waterways and reservoirs is the leading cause of Cryptosporidium, a parasite that killed more than 100 people in Milwaukee.

 

This piecemeal approach of looking at proposals in the Highlands one at a time instead of assessing how they conform to the overall Highlands Act and Plan, as well as to the state's Energy Master Plan, completely sells out the Highlands Act.

 

"This haphazard and piecemeal approach continues the death by a thousand cuts, destroying the Highlands and undermining why we passed the Highlands Act in the first place," said Tittel. "What can we expect from a council that sold us out to PSE&G“ They have to sell us out to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company too; otherwise it would only prove how corrupt they were on the power line issue. But this time it looks like they've sold out for even less."

 

 

Kara Seymour, Program Assistant

NJ Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street

Trenton, NJ 08618

609.656.7612

(f) 609.656.7618

 <http://www.newjersey.sierraclub.org> www.newjersey.sierraclub.org

 
Received on 2009-09-17 10:03:44

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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