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Destructive Pipeline Through Our Open Space

Date : Thu, 26 Jan 2012 11:55:29 -0500

/For Immediate Release/
January 25, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

**

*Destructive Pipeline Through Our Open Space* Bergen County could approve a destructive gas pipeline expansion project through the last remaining wilderness area in the county, the Ramapo Reservation.The project by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company would cut across the Reservation, closing off public access, clear cutting our forests, and impacting the critical resources of the park.The destruction would move forward based on a $700,000 compensation package, but this land is irreplaceable and is held in the public trust.Allowing this diversion for an unnecessary gas pipeline violates the public trust.No independent alternatives analysis was done and no mitigation parcels have yet to be identified.The consequences of this project will be long-termed and irreversible and Bergen County must reject this project on our public lands.

"The Ramapo Reservation is unique and irreplaceable.This Park contains the most environmentally sensitive areas in Bergen County and we must not lose these lands to unnecessary, polluting fossil fuel projects.This is like putting a pipeline through our Yellowstone or our Yosemite," *said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club*. The compensation package would include funding for replacement lands and for monitoring and restoration programs.Lands would be replaced at a 2:1 ratio, not 4:1 as is being proposed for New Jersey State land diversions.A minimum of $50,000 would go towards the purchase of land with the remaining $650,000 going to address the tremendous impacts of the project including critical species monitoring, tree replacement, invasive species control and hiking trail mitigation.These activities would be done by County staff and volunteers, not the company. The Ramapo Reservation is Bergen County's largest park area and contains some of the most environmentally sensitive resources in the region.According to the Highlands Council, 78% of the pipeline expansion site contains important environmental resources including steep slopes, wetlands, and the high quality Bear Swamp Brook.The County's Natural Resource Inventory already lists the existing gas pipeline ROW as a constraint to the Park's scenic resources and this expansion project will widen and worsen impacts on park resources.There will be more invasive species, loss of forest cover, decreased water quality from erosion on steep slopes, and loss of critical habitat for rare, threatened and endangered species. Expanding the ROW will exaggerate the pipeline's impact on the Reservation and exacerbating these impacts should not be allowed through further diversions. Bear Swamp must not be used as an access road.Widening and grading this road would have serious impacts on the Ramapo River, increase edge effects along the roadway, and create more habitat for invasive species.We are especially concerned as the road crosses through a Natural Heritage Priority site. No independent alternative analysis was prepared by the County or on the County's behalf.Instead Bergen officials depended on the information and assumptions of the gas company in looking at how to avoid impacts to our public lands.The "no build" and major route alternatives such as running the pipeline along Route 202 or 287 through the park were not seriously considered and dismissed.The County and state needs to conduct an independent analysis that does not depend on the company's assumptions to determine if this line is even needed and if the proposed location on our public lands is the only or even best route. The County claims this natural gas project is preferable to continued oil and coal use, yet this pipeline will be bringing in gas produced through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.Studies by Cornell University have found gas produced by fracking has a larger greenhouse gas footprint than coal and oil over a 20 year time horizon, contributable in part to methane leaks from pipelines.This expansion project will increase that greenhouse gas footprint by carrying more climate change pollution produced through fracking in Pennsylvania to eastern markets.

  This project puts a bullseye on New Jersey's open space and must not be allowed to divert more of our public land.This pipeline will cut through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Appalachian Trail, High Point State Park, Stokes State Forest, Ringwood State Park, the Ramapo River Reservation, and Long Pond Ironworks State Park. About 50% of the project will be located on public lands, preserved using Green Acres funding.Under current state regulations, it's cheaper to put the pipeline on public property rather than private land and TGP is taking advantage of that and trying to push this plan through before there are any changes in Green Acres practices that would make leasing that land more restrictive or expensive. The project has received no state or federal approvals.The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has completed a draft environmental assessment of the project that has been criticized by the NJDEP and EPA and has not yet determined a need for the project.Natural gas demand continues to decrease in New Jersey and New York as supply rises.The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that, between 1999 and 2009, total natural gas consumption for all sectors decreased by 13.3% in New Jersey and 10.4% in New York. On Monday, Chesapeake Energy Corp., one of the company's TGP has contracted the capacity of this pipeline with announced it would be decreasing domestic energy production due to a glut of natural gas on the market resulting in low prices making some drilling operations unprofitable.

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2012-01-26 08:55:29

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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