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Destructive Pipeline Approved By Highlands Council

Date : Thu, 16 Feb 2012 20:08:25 -0500

/For Immediate Release/
February 16, 2012 Contact: Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

*Destructive Pipeline Approved By Highlands Council * Today the Highlands Council took the side of dirty fossil fuel energy over the drinking water for the people of New Jersey.The Council approved the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) Northeast Upgrade project, which will cut across some of the most sensitive portions of the Highlands Preservation area, including underneath the Monksville Reservoir and through critical watershed lands.The project did not have enough votes to pass at the Council's January meeting and we believe Christie's appointments, Council staff, and TGP representatives strong armed other Council members into approving this project.This project violates the very purpose of the Highlands Act, protecting New Jersey's drinking water, and the Council's actions today mark a sad day for the region.

"The Council just sold out the Highlands region.They took the side of a polluting fossil fuel project that destroys our water supplies, scenic vistas, and core forests.The Council could not stand up to special interests now and protect the Highlands from such a damaging project.When will they do so in the future?Instead of doing their jobs, the Council is looking out for the fossil fuel industry over New Jersey's water supply," *said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club*.

"With today's vote Governor Christie said to the Highlands: Frack You.Almost all of the Governor's appointments voted for the project.The Council took the side of TGP over the drinking water of New Jersey," *Tittel continued*. Exemption number 11 in the Highlands Act is for the upgrade and maintenance of utility projects.This gas pipeline project is a major _expansion_ of infrastructure NOT routine maintenance.The new pipeline loop will be larger than the existing pipeline.This is like having a two lane highway and putting in a parallel four lane highway. Last week, Council staff and representatives from TGP gave Council members a private bus tour of the right of way.The public and press were excluded from the outing.When a Planning Board conducts a site inspection they are required to notify the public under the Municipal Land Use Law even if a quorum of Board members is not attending.We believe the Highlands Coucnil should be held to the same standard and the agenda of the tour should have been published and public invited.We believe the purpose of the tour was to strong-arm Council members into voting for the project by giving the applicant inappropriate access to Councilmembers. The Northeast Upgrade Project would install 18 miles of new pipeline in Sussex, Passaic, and Bergen counties and upgrade existing compressor and meter stations in Sussex and Bergen counties. The Northeast Upgrade Project will cut under the Monksville Reservoir and cross a significant amount of public land including Long Pond Ironworks and Ringwood State Parks and the Ramapo County Reservation.

"This is a scar across the Highlands that destroys our woodlands and jeopardizes our water supplies.You cannot mitigate for this kind of destruction.This project will impact some of the most sensitive land in the state that is simply irreplaceable.The use of mitigation money to exempt a project is nothing more than an open legal bribe," *said Tittel*.

Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2012-02-16 17:08:25

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