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A Pipeline Runs Through It

Date : Fri, 2 Jul 2010 13:11:31 -0400

For Immediate Release

July 2, 2010 Contact: Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

A Pipeline Runs Through It

In an eleventh-hour meeting the State House Commission tabled until next week a decision on the Tennessee Gas pipeline. For people who do not know what the State House Commission does, it gives away public lands for development without listening to the public, usually for pennies on the dollar.

This pipeline proposal will cut a 23-mile trench from one side of the Highlands to the other through dozens of state parks and one of the region’s most environmentally-sensitive areas, including the watersheds of North Jersey’s largest water supply reservoirs. The Peqquanock, Monksville and Wanaque reservoirs are where 2 million people get their drinking water. This is only the first half of the project. It was stopped at Monksville because the company needs permission to go through a reservoir. The project will continue to cut through more public lands and environmentally-sensitive areas.

What is most outrageous is that the state will give Tennessee Gas a 24-year lease for the pipeline under the Rooney-Ogden bill to get around requirements of public hearings and notice. For this $2 billion project, the State of New Jersey will get $45,000, not per year, for the entire 24-year lease. That’s right, not per year, for the entire lease. At a time when New Jersey has a fiscal emergency and there is not enough money to keep parks open, the state is giving this away basically for free.

“This is a dirty deed, done dirt cheap. Not only does this pipeline cause environmental destruction, but they used a loophole to avoid public process and are giving our land away. This is a violation of the public trust,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

The land is assessed at open space value, not at developed pipeline value. By giving away public lands so cheaply, it encourages corporations to try to develop public lands because it is cheaper than buying private lands. This is now the second giveaway of public lands by the Christie Administration. The first was Holly Farm in Millville.

The Sierra Club’s foremost 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.

This is the only 50,000 acre hardwood forested area that is intact in the state of New Jersey. This region is home to hundreds of different threatened, endangered and rare species. The pipeline will cut through several parks throughout the state including Hamburg Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge, Long Pond Ironworks State Park, Ringwood Manor State Park and many others.

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 Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company has agreed to buy land for mitigation. The problem is that this will replace only 20 acres of parklands. This 23-mile scar through the Highlands impacts thousands of acres. These replacement lands do not include areas impacted by road construction or heavy equipment damage.

“This is like taking a box-cutter to a line of 100 parked cars and only fixing one of them,” Tittel said.

In addition, the replacement lands are in the Highlands Preservation Area and have limited or no development potential. You can’t mitigate for what you destroy by taking lands that are already undeveloped and cannot be developed. This is a 116-acre forest preservation area where you can only build one house. 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 Sierra Club is also concerned that the gas in the pipeline would come from drilling in the Marcellus Shale, 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. This is only one of possibly seven pipelines cutting through New Jersey for Marcellus shale

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.

The decision is on hold thanks to Assemblyman Cryan who agreed with the Sierra Club’s concerns about the sale and mitigation. Senator Kyrillos who tried to vote but couldn’t because he never listed to the hearing, got this to be listed in the next 10 days. He tried to vote yes without even being present at the public hearing. Senator Kyrillos is a close friend and ally of former Assemblyman Coredemus who is a lobbyist and attorney on this project.

Christine Guhl Program Assistant New Jersey Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618 Tel: (609) 656-7612 Fax: (609) 656-7618 christine.guhl_at_sierraclub.org

Received on 2010-07-02 10:11:31

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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