Pinelands Preservation Alliance Files Appeals with NJ Superior Court
SOUTHAMPTON, NJ (May 2, 2016) — The Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) announced today that it is appealing the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ approval of the Southern Reliability Link (SRL), a 30-mile pipeline proposed by New Jersey Natural Gas that would cut through the protected Pinelands Natural Reserve.
PPA is also appealing the failure of the Pinelands Commission to review the project and meet its statutory obligation to apply Pinelands protection rules to all developments. Both appeals are filed with the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. PPA’s mission is to educate the public and serve as a watch-dog over government to ensure the Pinelands’ natural and historic resources are preserved.
“The BPU violated the Pinelands Protection Act and Comprehensive Management Plan in approving this pipeline, while purporting to waive all local government reviews that would normally take place under Pinelands and municipal land use laws,” said Carleton Montgomery, executive director, Pinelands Preservation Alliance. “At the same time, the Pinelands Commission simply declined to review and vote on the project. The Pinelands cannot survive if the key agency charged with protecting it simply fails to review the largest developments we have seen in many years.”
“The BPU and Pinelands Commission failed to implement the protections in place to preserve the Pinelands, so now we must ask the court to ensure utilities, like other developers, comply with the Pinelands laws,” Montgomery stated.
BPU ruled that the $178 million pipeline was reasonably necessary even though New Jersey Natural Gas concedes that its existing system is more than sufficient to serve all existing and anticipated demand in its service area.
“There is ample evidence that NJNG’s justification for this pipeline — that it would come in handy if some kind of never-before seen, catastrophic failure hits its existing sources of supply — is simply not credible. The company declined to conduct any reasoned analysis of such catastrophic failure scenarios, much less examine the most cost effective, least harmful means of addressing those scenarios,” said Montgomery. “An expert analysis concluded that this pipeline is not needed for reliability, but can only be explained by the fact that under New Jersey’s utility laws ratepayers will be forced to pay NJNG for the pipeline’s construction and maintenance, plus profit.”
Towns along the pipeline’s route are also challenging the pipeline because it will run very close to many homes and businesses, presenting safety as well as environmental risks.
In its appeal against the BPU, PPA also states that the BPU’s refusal to grant intervener status to PPA violated due process principles that ensure government agencies act with full knowledge of the facts at issue.
About The Pinelands Preservation Alliance
The Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) was established as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in 1989 by environmental leaders and Pinelands residents, with the goal of preserving and protecting the more than 1 million acres of the New Jersey Pinelands. PPA remains the only private organization dedicated solely to environmental protection throughout the Pinelands.